Blood runs thicker than musical taste -Siblings record very different discs [The New Brunswick Reader, June 23, 2001]
Bob Mersereau [Fredericton, NB -Provincial]

The two faces pictured on the albums by Zwerg and Jessica Betts couldn't seem farther apart. Moncton's Zwerg, with his spiky green, blue and yellow hair offers up some advanced electronica, while Jessica's self-titled disc is gospel. The link? They're brother and sister. Zwerg, aka Jason Betts has been making keyboard-based programmed music for several years under a few different names, what he accurately describes as "psycho-delic." What I like about it is his cross-generation style; his keyboardistry is based in '80s synth-pop, his mood more in tune with modern techno-philosophers such as Badly Drawn Boy, the lyrics actally meaning something. What he avoids is programming and hi-tech simply for the sake of it, refusing to belong to any electronica genre just because it's cool. The song remains important, and the musical tools are simply what's available to your average one-man band these days.

How does a gospel singer come out of the same family? No surprise it's a musical one. Dad is one John Betts, whose career has included stints as the educator behind Moncton's school music program, and a city councillor. Jessica's strength is her voice, a soaring enjoyable gospel sound, very modern. She's a bit of a belter, not unlike many of the young women crowding the airwaves, except she's not guilty of oversinging the songs. She just sings them strongly. Her tunes have a pop side, a bit of rhythm and blues. And, as befits such a musical family, she's also writing her own, the praiseful power ballad 'Nailed Sorrow'. And who arranged it and played all the instruments? One Jason Betts.

Jason is currently recording his fourth CD, but it's his acting that's really catching fire. He just finished a role in the Daniel Baldwin movie 'Irish Eyes', that's being shot in Saint John, and this Sunday, he's moving to Montreal for his next job. He has a principal role in a new TV show called 'University' that's being shot there.

As for Jessica, she also had two cuts on a compilation CD 'In Jesus Name We Play' which was launched in Charlottetown during the ECMAs. And she'll perform a full-length concert on July 1, 6 p.m. at Camp Wildwood.

--Bob Mersereau is a Fredericton-based freelance writer. He can be reached a