Singer-songwriter-keyboardist Kate Schrock is no stranger to this column.

For years now, I’ve been faithfully following the career of singer-songwriter-keyboardist Kate Schrock. This Maine native has released album after album of emotive, thought-provoking songs. So, it is with pleasure that I alert you to the fact that she’ll return to Slates in Hallowell to celebrate the release of her latest album, “Kor.” This 2014 CD is made up of 11 songs gleaned from her catalogue served up with just her voice and keyboards, and that simple presentation was the opening topic of our latest chat that found me calling her Portland-based home.

Q: I have really been enjoying “Kor” and it seems this is a perfect album to tour with, especially if you’re going to be touring solo.

Schrock: Yeah, thanks. I think that that was kind of the point of the project. For the last almost 10 years, definitely seven or eight since I had my son on the way, I haven’t been touring and I haven’t been with a big band or anything like that and I’ve been playing shows solo. People would come up to the merch table and ask which of my albums was most like that they’d just seen: me and my piano — and the one that has been pretty popular has been the “Live at the Majestic” that was from touring in the early 2000s from Oklahoma. So, I decided to take another look at my catalogue and present it in a way that I had been doing it in my live shows, but do it in a way that was totally ‘old school,’ like the old Cheskey recordings where they went into a church and just had a room-placement mic and a simple analog recording with simple instrumentation and a warm, acoustic feel.

Q: That definitely sounds ‘old school.’

Schrock: Exactly. So, I talked to Steve Drown (co-producer, mixer and engineer of the album) with this idea, and he said, “I know the perfect place — it’s in Nashville. My buddy, Joe Costa, is Ben Folds’ engineer and they have been camped out for about 10 years at the old RCA Studio A on Music Row … it’s a legendary space and they still have analog, the room is filled with grand pianos and it’s got this beautiful warm sound.” So, just Steve and I flew down, set up the studio like a live show and I sat at the piano with my whole catalogue in front of me and I just played what came — they rolled the tape and captured it. We did this for two days and recorded 14 tracks and I ended up tossing the three weakest ones and kept the other 11, brought them back here — sat on them for a while — then took them to Adam (Ayan) at Gateway for mastering. So, that’s the story of “Kor” — it’s very simple, very old fashioned and a very warm recording.

Q: And, there’s another aspect of this CD release that resonates with me being an old art teacher: the CD is red, one side of the interior of the gate-fold in blue and the other side — where the CD is attached — is yellow based. That’s the basic primary setting … so the whole presentation — visually and sonically — is, as you say, very simplistic. And seeing it was drawn from your back catalogue, this is the very essence of what you do … it’s like a “greatest hits” or a “best of” release, if you will — a touch-stone of your career.

Schrock: Well, thank you for that, and that’s definitely part of the focus of this. I mean, I’m hitting the 20-year mark here with releases, so with 20 years you’ve got to do something: buy a red Corvette or do a “best of” or something. And what you said tells me that we got what we were aiming for: that accessible, intimate span of the catalogue.

Q: Now I know you’ve performed at Slates before in the past, but is there anything you’d like to pass on to the readers of this article? And this will be a solo show, correct?

Schrock: Yeah, it’s just me, there’s no one else sharing the bill. In the past I’ve shared bills with Katie (Daggett) and some others, but this time it’s just me. And you could tell folks that it’s just going to be a very open, accessible show and where I touch on my entire catalogue. The “Kor” CDs will be there and I sell my painted T-shirts — it’s what I’ve gotten into in the last 10 years. I guess I’d like to also let the readers know this is going to be a celebration of simplicity, really … it’s just about getting down to basics. www.kateschrock.com

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.


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