Folk players corral Rat crowd

Brooklyn-based folk trio Pearl and the Beard played through a dynamic set, which included a Will Smith medley. (Abby Hocking)
Brooklyn-based folk trio Pearl and the Beard played through a dynamic set, which included a Will Smith medley. (Abby Hocking)

An excited crowd greeted performers Casey Shea and Pearl and the Beard on Friday, Jan. 29. The College Union Board-sponsored Night of Folk was a hit, with the two New York-based acts drawing more cheers and applause from the crowd than one typically hears during a show at the Rathskeller.

Pearl and the Beard, a trio from Brooklyn, N.Y. featuring Jeremy Styles, Emily Hope Price and Jocelyn McKenzie, took to the stage with tremendous enthusiasm and loud, bold vocals. With the aid of an acoustic guitar, a cello, a glockenspiel, a melodica, a snare and a tambourine, they fully captured the attention of the usually apathetic dining students. The group played from their album, “God Bless Your Weary Soul Amanda Richardson,” which they sold to excited fans after the show. Among the songs played were “Vessel,” “Lost in Singapore,” and “Oh, Death!,” each delivered with playful energy. The true show stopper, however, came in the form of their Will Smith medley, which featured “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Men in Black,” among others, and was received with tremendous applause and laughter from the packed Rat.

Pearl and the Beard planning to tour in Texas in March. They currently have one CD out, and are looking to record an EP.

When asked about their unusual name, Price jumped in and explained, “It’s an untold mysterious story. We are the mouths, the troubadours telling the story of the mysterious Pearl and the Beard. Is that answer ok?” Her answer perfectly matched the atmosphere of the band members themselves — fun, original and gloriously offbeat.

Opening for Pearl and the Beard was Casey Shea, who performed solo on the acoustic guitar. Although the Rat was not crowded when he began his set, those that were listening were treated to a captivating performance.

Shea’s cheerful stage presence, combined with his catchy songs and original lyrics, won over many members of the audience, who slowly began to pay more attention to him than to their food. Throughout his set he exchanged banter with Pearl and the Beard, who sat by the stage to heckle and cheer for Shea, introducing them as “Pearl and the Beard … still not sure who’s who.” His joking, easy-going manner was as infectious as his music, which included the songs “Love is Here to Stay” and “Roll Your Windows Down.”

Shea said he is often compared to John Lennon, although he finds it more than a little incredible. “I think it’s quite an honor to be called that. I wouldn’t say I’m up to him,” he said. “I just do what I do.” Shea is currently working on finishing an album entitled “Love is Here to Stay,” which will be released in March. He also has plans to begin another album that same month.