Robert Esquivel interviews local jazz musician, Harold Betters
After graduating from Connellsville High School, Betters studied music at Ithaca College in New York and then the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.
He ended up playing in New York City, which was the Mecca for jazz back in the 1950s.
After playing in several different bands, he toured with the legendary Ray Charles.
But a short while later, Betters returned to Connellsville because he didn’t want to be away from home.
“I didn’t like life on the road,” Betters said. “It just wasn’t for me, and my wife and I decided to come back home.”
He began playing at the Balcony in Pittsburgh six nights a week for 17 years.
It gained a reputation as the “place Harold built.” “I always thought I had the best of both worlds,” Betters said.
“I was able to play jazz on a nightly basis, and at the same I was able to have a normal family life in Connellsville,” he added. “I was very lucky.”
Betters said he also played in the band for the Mike Douglas show in Cleveland but even that was too far away from home.
“I had a lot of fun playing there, but I didn’t like being away from home,” Betters said.