Band leader emerges as singer-songwriter
Roanoke Times
Sunday, July 20, 2008
By Tad Dickens

Young artists have always had plenty of stage time at FloydFest. This year, the festival has a niche for them, in its Emerging Artist Series.

The series will feature a few acts from the Roanoke and New River valleys -- fest veteran Kat Mills, Jordan Harmon Band, Kristi Emmons, My Radio, and Alliens (from Asheville, N.C., by way of Floyd). Onetime Radford resident Stephanie Rooker, now of New York City, is on the bill, too.

Many of the acts will be busy from Wednesday on, playing showcases at Martin's Downtown Bar & Grill in Roanoke (see schedule, Page 4), then heading back to FloydFest for shows there. WROV-FM and Martin's are co-sponsoring the series.

Following is an interview with Katie Pearlman, who fronts her own band from behind a drum set. Pearlman, 27, writes the songs, sings them and slaps the skins when she's not playing a guitar during her band's acoustic sets.
Like the other emerging artists, she submitted her band's material to festival organizers. She wound up hitting it off with FloydFest co-founder Kris Hodges, who is also a drummer.

Pearlman, from Long Island, N.Y., and Hodges are likely to meet for the first time at the festival.
"That's the digital age for ya," Pearlman said in an e-mail exchange last week.

Q: How old were you when you began drumming?

I started drumming at age 10. My mom signed me up for drum lessons ... how cool is that? My mom is a musician and has always encouraged me to pursue music, and I feel very fortunate for that. She even liked it when I practiced in the house, making all that noise!

Q: Did you quickly find that you could sing and play drums at the same time, or is it something that developed over time?

It's developed over time. ... It's fun playing drums, and it's gotten more and more comfortable to sing over time. It's cool to do something different.

Q: You wrote music and lyrics for all but one of the songs on your CD, "Dreaming Again," and you co-wrote that song. Do you write on guitar, or do you find the ideas coming to you while you're playing or practicing drums?

I write all of my songs on acoustic guitar. Sometimes I start with a melody and come up with the chords to go with it and other times I start writing while playing my guitar.

Q: Do you feel limited as a frontwoman behind the kit? Or more secure back there?

I don't think it's limiting. We put the drum set up front so that I'm not hidden and I also play a small kit so that I'm not buried behind drums and stands. I play guitar for our acoustic shows.

We've thought about having a drummer sit in on a couple numbers and me coming out from behind the kit, but it hasn't happened, yet. Playing drums for me is like being in the driver's seat and I like that.

Q: You're married to your keyboard player, Jeff Pearlman, and his B3 stylings are all over your record, "Dreaming Again." How easy is it, or how hard, to be in a band with your husband?

Mostly, it's pretty easy because we work well together. I think Jeff is easy to work with, and easy to live with for that matter. We have a unique relationship. When we're not playing with our band, we're playing duets, or with other bands and playing situations. We love playing music!
Jeff wanted to book a gig on our honeymoon. I was like, "We're in Hawaii, I want to go to the beach." I'd love to go back and play Hawaii though!

Q: You have at least four festival or street-stage performances on your itinerary. What's your favorite thing about festival shows?

The vibe. I love being outdoors and playing outdoors. It sounds different and feels different. There are tons of people there to listen to music and have a good time because they're on vacation so everyone's happy and chilled out. Plus, we get to meet and play with some great bands that I probably wouldn't have met otherwise.