by Lucy L. Martin
South Bristol native Kate Schrock will have something new for listeners when she sings at the Lincoln Theater this Saturday.
Joined by her good friends – Lynn Deeves and Vicky Andres – Schrock will be trying out “some fresh material people haven’t heard before”. She was in Ecuador doing humanitarian aid work last year and also played in Jamaica with members of The Wailers, founded by late reggae legend, Bob Marley. The experience opened her heart “and helped mature me as an artist in a positive way,” she said this week.
Schrock has produced five recordings on her own music label, Kakelane Music; “ Indiana ” (2003) is her most recent.
Acclaimed over the years for making her own kind of music, she accompanies herself on piano – often in insistent, repetitive crescendos – and sings introspective, pensive ballads. The theme is usually man-woman relationships, usually at the turning point triggered by disappointment and departure. Her songs, fusing rock, jazz, gospel and pop, reveal a woman searching her soul, poised on the edge of doing the next thing, and not quite knowing what the next thing is.
Elton John’s piano style was an early, powerful influence, along with Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder; and for songwriting, Bob Dylan is one of her favorites. She is sometimes compared to Tori Amos and Joni Mitchell.
Musically untrained, she preferred to play by ear at a young age. Her deepening commitment to this one consistent relationship in her life – music – involved a lot of “banging on the piano” at first. While attending The University of Chicago, Schrock, who had left home at 16, started playing professionally. In the mid 80’s, she was lead singer for the five-piece band Sin Embargo. She produced her first album in 1995.
She has lived in New York , where she studied theater, Los Angeles , Paris , where she was a fashion model for a while, and currently resides in Westbrook.
Now 40, having toured all over the country, Schrock returns to the Lincoln Theater this weekend with an expanded worldview.
She traveled in 2004 to Jamaica with Glen DaCosta, who played horn for years with Bob Marley and continues to perform and tour with The Wailers. “Being in Jamaica , you can’t avoid delving into the philosophy of Bob Marley”, Schrock said. “He was a visionary prophet fighting for social justice. Much of his music is about liberating people from inequality.”
Working with DaCosta and staying with Jamaican people, not in resort areas, “tapped into something that was bubbling below the surface in me. It helped me to articulate my own frustrations and perceptions about my own country.” Being with people spiritually rich and musically alive helped her to see that much of the tension in the U.S. “has to do with our focus on materialism, at the sacrifice of so many other pertinent things”.
She wrote, “Message to Babylon ” and “Why?” addressing this awareness and will perform them Saturday.
In Ecuador , “I got an eyeful, an earful, a heart full of Spanish American, Latin American social inequalities. Che Guevera wanted to unite the countries of South America to strengthen it, to help the disenfranchised,” she said. “These two, Marley and Guevera, were rebels who lived their lives to serve the less fortunate and change a system which was patronizing and exploiting so many people.” Schrock wrote, “Rebel’s Eye” with them in mind, she said.