Chris Rael CRITICS CORNER Scroll down through years of critical praise from our revered music media!”
Chris Rael and his band Church of Betty celebrate three decades’ worth of brainy pop ambition in a variety of guises. Betty’s earliest iteration focused on India-flavored music featuring Rael’s electric guitar, Hindustani-trained voice, and sitar. Several albums in, he took on James Joyce’s short-story collection Dubliners in Araby, a multimedia “chamber musical.” More recently, Rael has immersed himself in the Ladino-language Sephardic music of Spain, Portugal, and Israel. Friday’s trip down memory lane combines members of his earliest and more recent ensembles. Expect a guest appearance by the very clever singer-songwriter Stew (Passing Strange, Notes of a Native Song) and come early for Life in a Blender, songwriter and shambolic vocalist Don Rauf’s long-lived rock-and-rococo refugees. Performance artist Penny Arcade will emcee the whole shebang with her signature rebellious wit." - Richard Gehr, Village Voice” - Richard Gehr

Village Voice

I attended an amazing edition of LaMama's Coffeehouse Chronicles yesterday, devoted to the memory of John Vaccaro, founder of the Playhouse of the Ridiculous... where the teenager who became Penny Arcade got her start in 1967. Penny organized yesterday’s tribute, and an amazing experience it was, packed to the rafters with old hippies, queers and freaks, and a few rubberneckers like me who came hoping some of their magic would rub off on us. Presenters included Ruby Lynn Reyner, who appeared in 40 Vaccaro productions and is the subject, with Robert Feinberg, of the 2008 HBO documentary Finishing Heaven, Lola Pashalinsky, who spoke about the "Great Upheaval" which occurred during the productions of Conquest of the Universe a.k.a When Queens Collide; Crystal Field of Theater for the New City (via pre-recorded video); playwright Ken Bernard, whose plays for the company included The Moke Eater, The Magic Show Dr. Mag-ico, The 60 Minute Queer Show and Fin du Cirque; Chris Rael of Church of Betty; and LaMama’s own Nicky Paraiso.” - Trav SD


ACKER AWARD RECIPIENTS 2016:   Music - Chris Rael, Samoa Moriki ” - Lucky Lawler

New York Waste

(An) effective means of transporting the audience into the world of Chokher Bali was the music. Deep Singh on the harmonium, Chris Rael on the sitar, and Bill Buchen on the dholak provided live scene-change music, which helped establish setting and tone with traditional instrumentation and melodies.” - Betsy Ladyzhets & Gabrielle Kloppers

Columbia Student News

Colorful music... after an impressive 17 years, Rael is first and foremost a singer-songwriter who has found a unique way of expressing his songs. If psychedelic rock is your taste, you will find a veritable banquet in Church of Betty.” - Dawoud Kringle


Swirled World makes the Best of 2015 Albums List for Mixed Bag, George Graham's eclectic smorgasbord on WVIA Radio” - George Graham

Mixed Bag, WVIA Radio

Swirled World clocks in at #5 in the Top 20 Albums of 2015 at Head Room, Barry Smolin's beautiful radio program on KPFK Radio in LA” - Barry Smolin

KPFK Radio

A drolly charismatic onstage delight, monomonikered Stew (of Passing Strange and the Negro Problem fame) is the sort of performer who makes other singer-songwriters sound painfully drab in comparison. He'll also be MCing tonight's lineup of smart, witty, and distinctive acts, including Chris Rael and his longtime Indian-influenced art-rock outfit Church of Betty along with Eszter Balint, the darkness-loving folk-punk singer notable for her unsettling performances as Louie C.K.'s Hungarian-speaking lover during last season's Louie. ” - Richard Gehr

Village Voice

Heaven Magazine, Amsterdam: "Rael is a crossover musician par excellence... wondrously beautiful sound fanning out in all directions... despite the emphatically Indian atmosphere, Swirled World sounds very poppy, thanks to good, catchy songs. ” - Jos Schuring

— Heaven Magazine, Amsterdam

CLEVER! Church of Betty: Swirled World The congregation in The Church of Betty consists of Chris  Rael/g-g-sit-voc, Brian Geltner/dr, Chris Cochrane/g, Claire de Brunner/bassoon, along with a parachurch group that includes a string section and guest vocalists with percussionists. Some of the songs have an acoustic guitar groove that is reminiscent of Led Zeppelin III, as Rael sings along on Ever Deeper, Endure and Muse. Some interesting world sound form a raga with sitar leading the way on Wake Up while straightahead boogie on the guitar gets cooking on Swirled World. Central Asian sounds come across as well on I Remember You as the band gallops to the finish line like the run of the bulls on Paella. Clever mix of sounds and countries.” - George W. Harris

Jazz Weekly