Catching up with Katie and Pat

Andrew Clayman and Andrew Clayman

Nobody can relive the past, but if you wait long enough, you just might get a shot at a sequel. It’s been five years since singer/songwriter Katie Watkins first graced the cover of the Pulse. Back then, she was known as Katie Stanko – a 20-year-old University student and a local celebrity of sorts. Her numerous acoustic gigs at Howard’s, Grumpy Dave’s and other venues had earned her a devoted following across campus, and the Pulse had picked up on the buzz. ‘I remember being so excited, because nobody had ever wanted to talk to me about my music before,’ Katie recalls. ‘Opening the paper and seeing that article was pretty awesome, even though I felt lame for playing someone else’s guitar in the photo they used [laughs].’ To say a lot has changed in five years would be an understatement, but Katie’s passion for music has only grown since graduation. Today, she lives in Chicago with her husband Pat Watkins, another University alumnus with whom she has formed the aptly titled folk-pop band Katie ‘amp; Pat. The duo’s second album, ‘On a Balance Beam,’ drops May 9. ‘To me, this album has much more of a full band feel than a duet feel,’ Pat said. ‘All of the recording is still just Katie and I, but we incorporated more elaborate instrumentation than on our first record (2007’s ‘This Time of Year’), specifically live drums and piano.’ ”On a Balance Beam’s’ slick production and mature, dynamic songwriting are a far cry from the days when Katie and Pat were upstart solo artists in Bowling Green, still searching for their sound and each other. ‘I was definitely listening to a lot of Jimmy Eat World and The Get Up Kids back then,’ Katie said. ‘But I grew up loving John Denver, so it was like trying to be emo and folk, which wasn’t a great combination.’ ‘The first time Katie and I were introduced was during a Resident Advisor training session in the summer of 2003,’ recalled Pat. ‘Katie was a bit punky then, with knee high socks and pigtails that went way past shoulder length. We would see each other from time to time after that, but it wasn’t until the spring of 2005 that we actually started dating.’ Naturally, a musical partnership soon followed suit. ‘Katie had a much larger catalog of songs than I did at the time, so we started practicing a lot of her material. I would add little guitar licks here and there to fill in the gaps and sing backup vocals. That’s really how Katie ‘amp; Pat was born.’ As they did for their debut album, Katie and Pat will be hosting their CD release party at Coffee Amici, just down the road in Findlay, Ohio. The duo still have a considerable following in Northwest Ohio, but as a new band in the vast Chicago scene, they’re trying to make their mark on an even bigger stage. ‘Moving to Chicago has made us feel much more like small fish in a big pond,’ Katie said. ‘But it has also been very rewarding. Life is a lot more fast-paced now, but we’re staying realistic, I suppose. We still dream big, but we don’t expect anything. That way we aren’t as disappointed if it doesn’t happen, and if it does, it will be even more magical.’ In the meantime, Katie Watkins is quite happy to be back in The BG News, a friendly reminder of those happy, pigtailed days of yore. ‘I miss a lot of things about BG-Finders, Video Spectrum, Howards, and just all the familiar faces and general feeling of freedom. It’s just a wonderful little place.’ Editor’s Note: Guest Reporter Andrew Clayman was a Pulse writer in 2003 when Katie Watkins was originally featured. Currently a music journalist in Chicago, he couldn’t pass up the chance for his own nostalgic homecoming, and to chat with an old friend.