The Bros. and the Sister

Can a little hippie chick with a big, big voice trample the bottom line?

Several cuts from a new demo support her theory. These are songs of groove, cut through with scalpel-sharp guitar lines and ass-on-fire percussion and breathless piano runs, music that ricochets and rattles and rocks, all of it spotlighting a voice with enough range and depth and inflection and pure power for any ten pop divas. The common comparisons to Janis Joplin-meets-Aretha Franklin are accurate up to the point of understatement. Schascle can sing the ice off the polar cap, and the rough-edge high-energy band format could not be more suitable.

"I'm at home with this band," she says. "I've told Warners I want to produce the record, with this band. It's a far cry from the polished L.A. sound, very organic. That's what I love. If I had a B-3 [organ] player, I'd do that, too. But I'm not quite ready to make the next record. We want to play out more, get tighter as a group. It's really neat that way. We hope to get to where we can make the record live in the studio, in a couple of days with a small audience. When I sing to someone, it's different than singing in a studio. In L.A. I couldn't understand A I thought something was wrong with my voice. The next one won't have the modern digitized overdubs A any of that shit. I want to capture the soul."

She will at the least have that opportunity on any stage that'll have her, including Tobacco Road's this weekend. Schascle isn't much for anecdotes, but music writers have described her walking into clubs, asking to sit in with whatever band was playing, being scoffed at as a "barefoot little hippie chick," and proceeding to blow the roof off the mother, leaving the crowd awed and the band in deep sand as far as following that. She recently opened for the Indigo Girls in Orlando and received a standing ovation. "That was a great feeling," she admits shyly. "The crowd's usually out in the hall during the opening act. That's the kind of thing I want to do to show Warner it's okay."

In one way the lack of sales for the first album is a boon. "Back then I had my head up my ass," the hippie chick says. "I had this management firm in L.A. that did nothing but get a big chunk. I never knew whose job it was to promote me. It was mine. I needed to get out and sing. Touring is the biggest thing. With this next record I'm just gonna play anywhere and everywhere. I'm glad the first one didn't happen A I'm not locked into it. First impressions are strongest and I'm glad I'm not gonna have to sing those songs the rest of my life, be adult-contemporary/Top 40."

When you hear her raucous, often brilliant, new sound, you'll be glad, too. Everybody's a winner. Except, perhaps, the label she hopes to finagle into putting art before commerce, a long shot if there ever was one. "I don't know if they'll drop me," Schascle offers. "In my situation the important thing is touring, opening for big names so we can reach 5000 people at a time, getting the word out. That will make it work. I don't have to have the label's commitment to promoting it, just their financial tour support. Sure, they don't pay openers dick, but you get real lights and a real stage and people to play for. Whatever happens, I'll be singing until I'm 90. I talked to [president of Warner Bros. A&R] Michael Ostin today on the phone. He's into my idea. He's very diplomatic, not passing judgment. The whole idea of a long-term recording contract is that they believed in me and knew it might take a while. As produced as the first record is, it's still organic and eclectic. You can't throw that at Top 40 radio and make it work. And they didn't."

If there's any justice A and who says there is? A Schascle will grab the gold without losing the sound of her own soul. "The thing about being on Warners," she says, "is I can work now, I can get gigs where others wouldn't be able to. It's neat. Living on music, making a living with music, is the best feeling in life." Hearing it isn't bad, either.

Schascle and One Block South perform after 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Tobacco Road, 626 S. Miami Ave., 374-1198. Admission costs $5.

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