What do you get when you add together two Indiana University professors, the director of marketing and communications for the IU School of Education, an eye doctor and an Ivy Tech professor? Don’t Call Me Betty, a Bloomington-based band whose repertoire covers more than four decades of rock ‘n’ roll tunes.
On May 1, the band will give a free, outdoor concert at the Prebys Amphitheater on the IU Bloomington campus.
Band members are IU School of Education director of marketing and communications Scott Witzke on guitar; IU Jacobs School of Music musicology professor Dan Melamed on bass; Jacobs School organ professor Chris Young on keyboards; Bloomington optometrist and IU alumnus Jody Brinegar on drums; and Ivy Tech professor Tim King, lead singer.
“The band has many connections to the IU community,” Witzke said. “But we also have a nice following outside of IU as well.”
The band got together in 2010 when Melamed, two students and his late wife, Betsy Sabga, started playing music together. When the students moved on to further their education, Melamed said he realized how much he loved being part of the band and wanted to turn it into something more permanent.
Melamed said he reached out to Witzke through a mutual friend and recruited Young to play keyboards. Witzke then reached out to King, who signed on as lead singer.
After Sabga lost her battle with cancer, Witzke recruited Brinegar as the band’s drummer.
And that name? Well, funny story, Melamed said. He and Sabga were vacationing in St. Joseph, Michigan, when they overheard a couple nearby arguing. Then, the woman stood up and angrily told the other person, “And don’t call me Betty.”
“Betsy and I looked at each other and said, ‘That’s the name of our band,’” Melamed said.
Before COVID-19, the band practiced weekly in a suite at Brinegar Eye Care in town. Now they rehearse remotely using a software called Jamulus.
To date, Don’t Call Me Betty has played nearly 70 shows and has a repertoire of nearly 300 songs. They focus on new wave music of the 1970s and ’80s – or, as Witzke describes it, “the music that was played on MTV back when they played music videos.” But recently, they’ve also started adding more songs from the ’90s and 2000s.
You might’ve seen them perform at several IU locations. In 2013, they played outside Memorial Stadium for Hoosiers Outrun Cancer. And in 2014, they performed for a wedding at Alumni Hall in the Indiana Memorial Union.
“Since Chris teaches organ, we were able to use the pipe organ,” Witzke said. “Chris played the intro to ‘Faith’ by George Michael from the balcony, and then the band kicked in.”
The bandmates share plenty of special memories of their nearly dozen years together.
“This is a special group,” Witzke said. “We’ve gotten really comfortable performing with each other, and we just have a blast. I think it shows when I look out and see the audience laughing, dancing and having a good time.”
Melamed said his bandmates know each other well musically, which helps them communicate and put ideas together quickly.
“That’s a great feeling to be a part of that, especially for me with four really good musicians,” Melamed said.
Want to see Don’t Call Me Betty in action? Plan to attend the free, outdoor concert from 6 to 8 p.m. May 1 at Prebys Amphitheater.