Sure, Jeremy Styles of musical trio Pearl and The Beard has facial hair. That’s not why the group calls themselves Pearl and The Beard.
Apparently, there are a lot of varying reasons why the group is called that. So much so that Jocelyn Mackenzie, who is a vocalist and percussionist with the band, deferred to bandmate Emily Hope Price to tell the tale.
“The name came from, well, there’s a bunch of different versions of the story, but the short version would be that Jocelyn and Jeremy met a few months before they met me so they named the band,” Price said. “One of the desires for the look of the name was for it to be symmetrical. It’s a total coincidence that Jeremy actually has a beard and that he really likes beards. That name was just evocative of a lot of different images.
“Also the name comes from the idea of wanting the music to tell a story. It’s not actually representative of the members of the band. It’s about this story that people can make up for themselves about what stories we’re telling or who Pearl is and what that means to them. So it’s meant to be a little bit cryptic in a way.”
Although there’s no pearl and only one beard, Pearl and The Beard will nevertheless bring their musical stylings to Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Va., on Thursday, July 11.
The group, out of New York, has opened for singer/songwriters Ani DiFranco and Ingrid Michaelson. Two years ago, they toured Europe and the United Kingdom.
Had it not been for a couple of open mic nights in NYC, all that might not have happened.
“We met at different open mic nights all over New York,” Mackenzie said. “We heard each other playing and we started playing open mics together. From there, we kind of got to where we are now. So it started out small and kind of got more and more exciting as we grew.”
The dynamic trio has spent a lot of time together — in the studio and our tour. A lot of bands tend to fight amongst themselves when they spend a lot of time with each other. For Pearl and The Beard, the group couldn’t be closer.
“I would say we’re more like family than anything else,” Mackenzie said.
“I think it was a total accident that we ended up liking each other. When we met we were total strangers, but I don’t know why these things happen,” Price added. “These mysterious things in life happen, you meet mysterious people and you end up getting along. We don’t have to get along as well as we do, but we ended up being three very different people who complement each other and learn from each other and are patient. So we’ve become family because of those qualities, which was a total accident. I know a lot of people who end up in a situation where they’re just coworkers and I think that’s a really different thing.”
For what it’s worth, Pearl and The Beard’s style of music touches on just about everything. The group enjoys trying to reach out to as many people as they can.
“I will say, first and foremost, [our style of music is] collaborative,” Mackenzie said. “Since we all come from different backgrounds in how we approach writing music and the kinds of music that we listen to, Jeremy talks about it as like a mixtape of music because we all come to the table with very different styles. Our style is definitely blended, but we have roots in folk and indie music and pop music and ballads and jazz and some gospel and traditional music as well. It’s really all over the boards, but it’s certainly for people who like variety.”
It’s obvious talking with the band that they love music just about as much as anything. Had they not been bitten by the music bug, who knows where they might have landed.
“I’ve never wanted to do anything else,” Mackenzie said. “I don’t know. I think I would be doing music in a different way if I weren’t with this particular band. I would either have a different band or try to pursue a solo career in some way, but I don’t think I could be alive and not be pursuing music. But if I had to pay the bills, I think I’d probably just be poor.”
“I probably would have gone into, well, I dabbled a little bit in college with English,” Price added. “I really wanted to be a writer, but then everyone told me there was no money in writing, that I should go into technical writing, which is basically writing how-to manuals for VCR machines and DVD players. I didn’t want to do that. My dream job would have been a photographer for National Geographic. Like, a super great one – I’d be the one they’d call first every time so I had job security. That’s what I’d want.”
The triumvirate has spent years on the road and writing and recording songs. There are no plans for them to slow down or stop anywhere in the near future.
“We are actually currently in the studio recording our new album which will be released next spring, or early, early spring hopefully,” Price said. “Then we’ll go back to the UK and Europe next year. We’re going to tour out to the West Coast … and do more touring later this winter and into next year when we release the album, so that’s kind of what’s in store for us.”
But do they have a name for their new album?
“No, we don’t,” Mackenzie said, laughing. “That process is always kind of just as intriguing as trying to name your band, I think.”
When all is said and done, Pearl and The Beard want people to feel their music and be in the moment when they’re at concerts. If nothing else, they hope to provide a nice release from the everyday, plugged-in life.
“Personally, I want people to feel like they’ve seen something that they communicated with on whatever level,” Price said. “I think that might sound vague, but … with constant updating on Facebook and always playing [games online] and TV, there’s just so, so much content to take in that a lot of the time people kind of become a little bit — I don’t want to say numb, but people become a little desensitized to what’s actually happening around them. So if we can use our concerts as a way to make people feel like they’re in the present and that they’re in the moment and that they’re enjoying something new and connecting with them on a personal level, that really means a lot to me and I think that when that does happen, they become our lifelong fans and we can continue to have a relationship with them over the years in addition to them enjoying what we do.”