The Del McCoury Band, Punch Brothers, the Steep Canyon Rangers and … Betty and the Boy? Josh Harvey (vocals, mandolin, banjo, harmonica) is the first to admit surprise that Betty and the Boy are joining the first-ever Mountain Song at Sea, a “best of bluegrass” cruise from Miami to the Bahamas featuring 12 major bluegrass acts, in early February. “We don’t necessarily play bluegrass,” Harvey tells EW, laughing. But he says the band does use some traditional bluegrass instrumentation — fiddle, banjo, mandolin and upright bass. “A ton of bluegrass gods will be on that boat.”
Harvey is most excited to sail and wail alongside the Punch Brothers, the David Grisman Sextet and Steve Martin, who is touring with the Steep Canyon Rangers. The cruise, however, won’t be all fun-in-the-sun because EW 2011 Next Big Thing winners Betty and the Boy are there to compete in “Battle for the Boat” with five other bands from across the country (Sanctum Sully, Front Country, The Austin Steamers, Henhouse Prowlers, The Dustbowl Revival). The winner gets to play a 45-minute set for all aboard on Feb. 3. “I think we’ve already won,” Harvey says. “Going on a cruise with all that music? We’ve already won in my mind.”
Meanwhile on dry land, the local folk-bluegrass-minimalist-rock band is “focusing on recording some music.” Harvey says they are slowly working on new material for an upcoming album (release date TBD). Fans can expect more vocals from Harvey on the sophomore release and a change in tempo. “A lot of it will be faster,” he says. “We’ve evolved as musicians … We’re getting more comfortable with playing together.” Enjoy tunes from Good Luck, their first album released in 2012, and wish them bon voyage Jan. 24 at Sam Bond’s.
Betty and the Boy play with Matt McDonald 9 pm Thursday, Jan. 24, at Sam Bond’s; $3-$5.