When Jeff Betten heard that Youngstown, Ohio-based label Wild Kindness Records was closing shop, he had a few things to say — first and foremost, that he wouldn't stand back and watch. "I caught wind of it and I said, 'Dude, I've got the time; I love the label; I don't want it to end," Betten recalls.
This was in September, when then-owner David Pokrivňák decided that with a new baby in the family, his time with the label was up. Betten — a friend and fan of Pokrivňák — stepped in and relocated the operation to Pittsburgh. "It was one of those times of opportunity meeting preparation," says Betten, who had no plans of owning a label prior to September.
"A lot of what a label does, I had done as a DIY musician anyway," he explains. Betten is a veteran of the Pittsburgh music scene, currently a member of country band Western Pennsylvania. He's been making music since high school and has seen every stage of the recording and promotion process, so taking over a label made sense.
And this label in particular made sense for him: Wild Kindness is home to some of Betten's favorite artists, many of whom he also calls friends — André Costello and Host Skull's David Bernabo, among others. It has an unpretentious attitude that Betten himself embodies: "Music and art for the sake of music and art" is the label's motto.
Betten is wasting no time taking advantage of the move to Pittsburgh; he's already signed Chet Vincent & The Big Bend. The label will also be hosting its first major event since the move on Nov. 9: an LP-release party for Host Skull, celebrating the band's second record and the first release since the label's change in management.
The transition has been smooth, and Betten is dedicated to maintaining the mission and ethos of Wild Kindness while still growing steadily. But Betten knows that good things take time, and he's in no rush.
"If I was gonna start a label," he says, "this is basically my dream roster, where we're at right now."