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Spotlight: Liza Kate

(acoustic guitar) + (hushed vocals)

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On the road again: Like Robert Plant, Liza Kate (née Liza Kate Walter) was born to ramble on. The daughter of a railroad man, she roamed from New York to Maryland, Indiana, Kentucky and Florida. Years later, she still can't shake the wanderlust. "I try to travel all the time," she says. "It's hard for me to be in the same place for a long time." Last summer, the 27-year-old backpacked around Spain and Morocco. This March, she plans to go to Guatemala to help build stoves for families as part of the Highland Support Project. In between her journeys, Liza Kate is pursuing her bachelor's degree in sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University. "I'm studying everything," she says. "There's so much to learn. If I could, I would stay in school for a long time."

R-O-C-K in the U.S.A.: Liza Kate first took up the guitar at 12, but made her musical debut as a drummer in an all-girl pop-punk band in Clearwater, Fla. Until five years ago, she'd played only in rock bands. "The first time I played anything by myself, I was doing a solo acoustic thing with a friend," she recalls. "It was really, really nerve-racking." Even now, there are still some pre-show jitters: "It helps a lot when it's really quiet. I pretend no one's there." That shyness may explain why Liza Kate's shows are so powerful — they allow the audience to become silent voyeurs into her own private world. But with a growing coterie of friends and fans, performing is getting easier. "Playing music saved me a lot," she says. "I used to be so uncomfortable with myself. Playing in front of a bunch of people has made me more confident."

On the horizon: There are plans. Big plans. But first Liza Kate has to get through graduation. "My biggest challenge is finding time," she says. "I need to spend the semester concentrating on school. After that, I would really like to do some touring with friends. I really want to do a full-length. And I'm definitely going to put together a band."



Liza Kate performs at 8 p.m. with Josh Small and David Shultz March 3 at Studio 6, above Art6, 6 E. Broad St.

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