By Eileen Tilson
Pearl and the Beard is “three voices, one cello, one guitar, one glockenspiel, one melodica, several drums, one accordion, ninety-six teeth, and one soul.” Jocelyn Mackenzie, Emily Hope Price, and Jeremy Styles met in NYC where they. formed Pearl and The Beard, a band that The Wall Street Journal noted “…as Pearl and the Beard joyfully belted… to a growing crowd on the [subway] platform… commuters missed their trains to stay and listen, unsure what was happening—only that it was a New York moment not to be missed.” They joined us for our 5GB series before their show Friday at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington D.C.
What was the first gig you ever went to?
Jocelyn: It was New Kids on the Block in 1990. We had nosebleed tickets that my dad somehow procured because he was friends with one of their personnel. But my parents are huge music fans, I’d been taken to concerts long before then as a child… namely to see Todd Rundgren, who’s my mom’s favorite.
Jeremy: The Winans. They are a gospel group/family whose main folks are named Bebe and Cece. It was then that I realized just how loud a concert can be and was blown away.
Emily: Catherine Wheel and Belly. I might have been 16… 17…18? I only knew one song – and left after I heard it. Oh, ignorant youth!
What is the best gig that you ever played/performed at?
Jocelyn: Our first London headlining gig at St. Pancras Old Church this past fall was just incredible. It was an intimate atmosphere, and the sound was gorgeous within the old church walls. I also really loved opening forDavid Wax Museum at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC… they and their fans have such an incredible energy!
Jeremy: I think I just played it last night. Pearl and the Beard opened for Ani DiFranco in Asheville, NC to a sold out crowd. I’d never played in front of that many people before and they were so receptive. I had the jitters like woah, but once I saw folks were enjoying it, and I was connecting with my bandmates it was all smooth sailing from there.
Emily: I’d probably have to say the best gig I ever played was actually during my classical cello playing life. I played the Saint Saens Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Utah State Symphony Orchestra with conductor Brant Bayless. I’ve had some pretty incredible gigs since then, but that was one of my first most intense experiences in music and super surreal.
What is the best gig you have ever been to?
Jocelyn: They Might Be Giants, 1998 at the Bowery Ballroom. I wasn’t old enough to get in, but my dad took me and told the doorman I was 18. It was so magical. They even brought THE STICK (points if you’re up on that one). My dad stayed in the back the whole time so I felt like I was there compltetely by myself and that they were playing just for me! That day I dreamt I would get to be on that same stage one day, and since then we’ve been lucky enough to play at Bowery three times.
Jeremy: I’d have to say Sigur Ros at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC. Usually I can tell what a musician is doing and where they could potentially come up with what he/she performed. But these guys were from another planet and I was so overwhelmed by what was happening. I usually am very conscious of the musician vs audience vs production experience, but hearing them live shut all that down and I was a music lover again. Pure and simple.
Emily: Radiohead. First day of All Points West in New Jersey in 2008. Second row against the barrier: stage right
Gig you would most like to play?
Jocelyn: The Newport Folk Festival in Newport, RI would be a dream, as the concert-goers there are really dedicated music fans. But I’d also love to do some television performances, mostly Jules Holland and Jimmy Fallon.
Jeremy: Probably Glastonberry and Coachella. Though I grew up in the desert and I hate hot festivals so maybe not so much Coachella (though I would). Maybe if I was constantly hydrated and in the shade.
Emily: Glastonberry would rule. True.
What would be the lineup for your dream gig?
Jocelyn: My perfect bill woud include Sharksleep, then Pearl and the Beard, and They Might Be Giants at Red Rocks in Colorado. That’s right. I’m a Giants fan.
Jeremy: One popped in my head months back. I’d love it to be Pearl and the Beard opening, followed by Bon Iver and then on one night of the weekend Katy Perry and the other night Radiohead
Emily: Radiohead. Red Rocks in Colorado. But perhaps more realistically: I’m a huge fan of the work of Bicycle Bombay Club, Andrew Bird and Bon Iver – so that show would be pretty great.
Catch Pearl and The Beard Friday Feb. 24th, at Rock and Roll Hotel Washington, D.C.