Pearl and the Beard
with Lucius and You Won't, Dec. 6, 8 p.m., $10-$12, Cafe Nine, 250 State St., New Haven, (203) 789-8281, cafenine.com, manicproductions.org.
Imagine moving far away from your home, to the biggest of cities, in search of something greater and grander. Imagine doing your own thing in your new city, an aspiring musician, stepping into the giant ocean of New York City open mics as a tiny fish. Now imagine finding two other individuals on the same path, and teaming up to become the single most adorable, wonderful trio of musicians with a nonsensical band name seen 'round these here parts in a great while. This is essentially the story of Brooklyn's Pearl and the Beard, who play Cafe Nine on Thu., Dec. 6. You might think it sounded like so trite a band-formation story if they weren't so goddamn talented.
"We all met at open mics by sheer, freakish chance," says the trio's only non-female member, Jeremy Styles. "And then came together and started to work together... And now we're in a van driving around the country," he adds, as we spoke by phone as the band headed down to Washington, D.C. for a show. Styles and his bandmates Jocelyn Mackenzie and Emily Hope Price, are touring with fellow Brooklynites Lucius, and You Won't out of Cambridge, Mass. "It was kind of our dream bill," says Price, of the line-up for this short, East Coast jaunt. "We're thrilled to be kind of in our home base," she says.
Pearl and the Beard are not your typical guitar-drum-bass-vox indie band. Styles, who coincidentally is also the band's only member with a beard, plays the acoustic guitar. Mackenzie provides light percussion, and tinkles out melodies on the glockenspiel and melodica. And Price rocks out on the cello and accordion. There are six hands between the three bandmates, so there are also plenty of handclaps. And oh, those harmonies. Each of the three sits in a different vocal range, filling out the acoustic instrumentation with what feels like a second set of instrumental accompaniment. With all of this present in their live performances, be prepared for them to charm the audience's pants right off.
The band will play songs from their two full-lengths, God Rest Your Weary Soul, Amanda Richardson and Killing the Darlings, and two EPs to date, the Black Vessel EP and the Prodigal Daughter EP. And they'll try out some new tunes that'll hopefully appear on their next record, which they plan to begin recording next month. They also just released a video for "40K" off Killing the Darlings. A music video full of zombies. "We had a great time with the zombie video, obviously," says Price. "We always try to make sure that everyone involved with us, no matter in what way, has a good time and is relaxed," she says.
Speaking of Killing the Darlings, do you see that triple-person, six-sleeved sweater they're wearing? That intricate and complicated piece of fiber art, which also graces Killing the Darlings' cover, was knit by Mackenzie with the knowledge she gained in college. "I have a degree in fiber from the Maryland Institute College of Art," Mackenzie says. "My lovely bandmates allowed me to put my student loans to good use and make some fiber art for our album. That was very fun," she says. Pearl and the Beard? They're just like your super-talented, bespectacled, adorable, and student-loan-burdened friends. And then there's the occasional sleepwalking incident.
Styles once accidentally sleepwalked (you can't really sleep-walk on purpose, I guess) into a neighboring apartment while staying with friends in Chicago. The unsuspecting neighbors called the cops, naturally, and after some time everyone pieced his babblings together and realized he must have come from the friends' apartment. You'd expect a musician who's handcuffed, in the back of a cop car, wearing only pajamas, barefoot, to have been involved in something much more nefarious or disgusting or apparently disorienting. Not in this band.
The Cafe Nine show this week will be the first time Pearl and the Beard has played around here in a number of months. And there's the possibility for some cross-band on-stage commingling, adding to the possibility for one-of-a-kind performances. It would be unwise to miss this show on purpose.