• Feature

Women Behind the Music in Cincinnati: Misty Perholtz

Photo by Randy Getsla

I have had the pleasure of knowing Misty Perholtz for a few years now. I met her and her husband Jeff Perholtz a while ago, and when it comes to musical couples they are something beyond the else, and as an individual Misty is someone that lives and breathes music. With a smile from ear to ear you can see her all around our fair city with The Newbees, Duo-Jetts, or Women of Rock. The following is the amazing conversation I was able to have with her. When it comes to someone who really enjoys where they are at and what they are able to do I think Misty is the epitome of that. From the conversation I had with her that’s what I learned, and of course how awesome The Muppets were and are.

How and when did you find music?
It was always there. I lived in a record loving household. My sisters were fans of ELO, Journey, Phil Collins, Billy Squier (the AOR of day). My mom and dad had romantic tastes. On Saturday evenings they'd put on The Eagles, The 4 Seasons, Kenny Rogers, Motown, John Denver (the AM radio hits of the day) and dance in the living room. I think I started performing on the coffee table along with the records to get their attention.

What is your earliest musical memory?
Maybe The Muppets on TV. Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem totally rocked. I loved the semi-psychedelic, semi-anarchist vibe. I had The Muppet Movie LP and rocked out to "Movin' Right Along" all of the time. Then, like every little girl born in 1975 and since, I fell in love with "Annie". My uncle took my family to see the stage production in 1980, and I was forever changed. I was bitten with the stage bug. I cried because I wanted to be up there too, under the lights, in costume and singing.

How have these two played a factor into what you do now?
Well, I guess I'm a classic rock loving, romantic, semi-psychedelic, semi-anarchist, wanna-be theater kid. I always had more guts than ability, but maybe that's what turns people on. I love performance, mine and everyone else's. But it's got to have heart. Even if it's silly, in an authentic way, I'll love it.

What has been one of the biggest challenges as a woman in the music business?
Hmmm, delicate question. For this woman, it's been a challenge convincing myself that I don't have to care what anyone else thinks about my ability, my taste, my appearance or my choices. Since I have a hyper-sensitive, sometimes inaccurate, self-awareness, coupled with a compulsion for self-deprecating humor. I don't always succeed. The desire to prove myself to others, and really to myself, follows me through most aspects of my life. Though, the older I get, and the more skilled, the better I feel about me the "musician".

Has this challenge strengthened your drive and resolve not only as a musician but as a woman first and foremost?
Most certainly. I was a really competitive kid. Loved dodge ball, especially when it was "girls against boys". I thought I was equal to boys and loved the chance to prove it. I don't recall any discrimination until I entered the work force, and that left a mark, and an attitude of "I'll show you". In my musical experience, 99 percent of people are very kind and generous with their compliments. The odd thing is, sometimes they seem a bit surprised that I'm holding my own. Every-now-and-then, I'm on the receiving end of the dreaded "you're a decent guitar player, for a woman" bit. But, I relish the chance to retort with some blue humor about how it's been difficult to learn with my lady bits getting in the way of the strings. But, I admit, I usually go home and practice more.

Who has been your biggest supporter?
My husband, band mate, business partner, Mr. Jeff Perholtz. He has guided, supported, and rooted for me at every turn. He has the patience of a saint (I'm kind of a pistol) but isn't afraid to be the heavy. If improvements can be made to my playing, singing, writing and attitude, he'll let me know. I need people like that. I'm also blessed with a supportive family and wonderful friends, many of whom I've played music with over the years.

What is something you would like to achieve that you have not done yet through the power of music? I.E. Play a certain venue, record a few tracks at a certain studio, play/open for a certain act, anything...
I've been very fortunate in my musical experience and have gotten to do things I never even imagined. In my wildest dreams, I'd love to record at Abbey Road and the recently re-opened Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. Realistically, I'm happy to stay on the train. I want to keep playing, keep traveling, keep meeting exceptional people, keep writing, while becoming a more melodic and creative guitar player. If that makes other people happy in the process, I'm over the moon.

What are some of the things that I haven't asked that folks should know? Mainly about The Newbees, or any of the projects you have going on, and the married life.
The Newbees have had many incarnations and many members. Each of our albums reflects that unique line-up. I sometimes joke that our band has an identity crisis, because we do what we want, when we want. Genre, schmenre, right? Whether we're writing, improvising or playing other people's music, we're all-in and don't feel conflicted. Everyone who has been in The Newbees has a ton of moxy and a "let's try it" nature. It's been a beautiful environment for creativity.

What is on the horizon that you can share and are excited about?
Jeff and I have most of the songs written for another album that we plan to record and release it this summer. We've been quite busy with work, life, gigs and our side projects The Duo-Jetts and Women of Rock, and we've been sitting on most of the "new" songs for a few years. We are determined to finish up in July or August.

Now the question I ask all, Why Music?
I'm a terrible bowler. Nah, I can't help myself. I'm drawn to music. I love dance, sing-a-longs, karaoke, open jams, all of it. I went to college for audio engineering and was even a radio DJ for a while. Music is the stuff of life. I only started playing instruments and writing because I was living with a guitar player. It hadn't even occurred to me that it was possible until I met Jeff. Then I chipped away at it for years and all of the sudden, band life is my life. I wouldn't have it any other way...since I'm a crappy bowler, and all.

Misty is also involved in a project called Women of Rock. Along with a talented bunch of folks, and talented is an understatement to describe the following cast that is a part of this: Krystal Peterson, Rio Van, Michelle Hemmer, Joanie Whittaker, Elainea Jaber, and Misty. This is a tribute show that will highlight many of the great female performers from rock-n-roll both in the early days and the more modern. The collaboration also includes Just Strange Brothers and The Newbees with the aforementioned women being the vocalists.