The Long version of the story....
The Better Halves are an Austin-based husband-wife duo who specialize in making listeners smile. With roots in country, bluegrass, folk, jazz, and classical music, their funny, touching duets use clever lyrics and real boy-girl banter (reminiscent of June Carter and Johnny Cash) to uplift and entertain audiences, who respond with laughter and knowing nods. Their rousing instrumentals, with influences from Chet Atkins to Bach, include a piece they play 4 hands on 1 guitar, which always brings down a shower of applause!
Jimmy Joe Natoli attended both the Berklee College of Music and Guitar Institute of Technology. He began playing guitar at age 12, when a knee injury left him unable to play soccer, which had been his passion. Luckily his dad had an old Harmony guitar in their Long Island home, and a friend shared the riff from Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” He was hooked and put a poster of Jimi Hendrix on the ceiling above his bed for waking inspiration. When he was 16, his uncle gave him a record of Los Indios Tabajaras, an amazing Brazilian guitar duo. His world was opened to a whole new realm of music, and he still thrives on exploring all genres and nationalities of music. He has toured and done studio work with bands that range from artsy alternative rock to country. His songwriting has received recognition from the Kerrville Newfolk Contest (Regional Ballad Tree Selected Performer 2006), the Songwriters Serenade (Finalist 2011 and 2012), and NPR’s Car Talk (who played his song, “Uncle Joe” in 2007.)
Chrissie spent her childhood writing poems. She put them to music when she picked up the guitar as a biology undergraduate student at Penn State. Years later, in acupuncture school, she met fellow musician, Alison Lumley. The two formed the duo Avenue Elle and Chrissie was looking for a gig at the farmers market where Jimmy Joe books music. It wasn’t long until Chrissie and Jimmy Joe began jamming together, playing music throughout central Texas, and eventually marrying with a musical wedding that really included their now recorded song, “Wedding Vows.” In the meantime, Chrissie and Alison have continued making music together, which earned them an appearance in the Kerrville Newfolk Competition and on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” both in 2012.
The Better Halves completed their first EP in early 2009 and began touring throughout the country later that year. Their first full-length, mostly upbeat, sometimes humorous debut album of 2011, Tête à Tête, received wonderful reviews, including nomination for “Best Vocal Duo” of 2011 for the Texas Music Awards, and placement on both the Folk DJ and FAR charts. Their second CD, All Over the Map, was released in January of 2015 and digs a little deeper, with more poignant songs and story songs, but still with an air of humor and fun characteristic of the duo.
After raising $8500 in a successful crowdsourcing campaign on Kickstarter, the duo released their third CD, a compilation of children's songs written over the years of Jimmy Joe's school bus career and Chrissie's time as a mother. This CD, called Playing in the Dirt, features a variety of songs, thoughtfully produced with fun instruments, ranging from steel pan to the saw. When they play children's shows, they call themselves Mr. Bus Driver Man Sir and Her.
They happily continue teaching songwriting classes to children and Alzheimer groups, performing classical music for wedding ceremonies, delighting children and parents with their kids tunes, playing Better Halves songs in venues from Texas to Alaska, and Maine to Mexico, and, above all, making their listeners smile!