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She combines traditional Irish, Celtic and folk ballads with Cajun, world-beat and progressive rock influences and her own creative songwriting.
A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Patterson began her professional career in her teens as a classical oboist and a Cajun bass player. She spent a year studying traditional Irish music and ethnomusicology at University College Cork in Ireland, where she began to experiment with musical fusion. She later finished her bachelor's degree in Music Therapy from Loyola University New Orleans.
Today her preferred instrument is the Irish bouzouki, a tear-shaped eight-string instrument of Greek origin that became popular in Irish music in the 1960s. She plays a 10-string version as well.
She was a founding member of the ensemble The Poor Clares, who debuted at the New Orleans Jazz Festival to rave reviews. The Poor Clares' albums include Change of Habit and Songs for Midwinter, distributed nationally on the Centaur label. Since then, Patterson has released four albums, on the Little Blue Men Records label, including two studio productions, the somewhat more traditionally-oriented but still musically eclectic Hybrid Vigor, the world-beat and progressive-rock-influenced Take Some Fire, and the 2005 live album, Caught in the Act. Her 2009 release, On Better Paths, is the most daring, crossing boundaries of form and genre even further. The recording received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Folk Album. She has also played on and produced other albums, most recently (2005) on the album Orin by the Breton progressive-folk group Tornaod. She has over 150 recordings to her credit.
She was a regular performer at O'Flaherty's Irish Pub in New Orleans's famed French Quarter, until Hurricane Katrina hit at the end of August 2005. O'Flaherty's has not reopened at its original site, and at last report will not reopen in the future, but Patterson has since begun playing regularly at other New Orleans venues, particularly Cafe Negril on Frenchmen Street, and Carrollton Station in the Riverbend on Willow Street. She has also toured in Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and Belgium, as well as much of the United States. She is especially a favorite of Celtic music fans in the Washington, D.C. area.
Patterson was mentioned in the novel Dragons Wild (both thanked as a test reader and mentioned briefly in the plot) by late sci-fi/fantasy author Robert Asprin. An entire chapter of the third book in the series, "Dragons Run" (by Jody Lynn Nye) takes place at a fictional concert of hers.
Patterson released the album 2 Deep by her bawdy alter ego, Bad Beth & Beyond, that she performs as in New Orleans' French Quarter. There she also uses the Irish bouzouki while performing risque originals and covers.
Film credits include the motion pictures Lucinda's Spell, The One-Eyed King (starring William Baldwin and Armand Assante), and most recently Mike Judge's Extract (on Mirimax), starring Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, and Ben Affleck.
Beth Patterson uses Infiniti oboe reeds and the Ebow.
Discography Hybrid Vigor (1999) Take Some Fire (2002) Caught in the Act (2005) On Better Paths (2009) Hippocampus (2012) Forward (2013) Momotaro! Live in Japan EP (2014)
Books Beth began writing fiction in 2012. She has contributed to twenty anthologies and published her first novel "The Wild Harmonic" in 2016.
- "Danny Doyle Benefit a success at Loyola". Ponchatoula Times. February 28, 2008. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
- "23-June-2013 interview with Patterson on Outsight Radio Hours". Archive.org. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
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