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Scorcher Family ignites smoke-free show at Shank Hall

The Scorcher Family, along with the Mali Blues Group and Lucky Diop and Kassumai, will rock a smoke-free, world music celebration on Saturday, June 3 at Shank Hall. It starts at 9 p.m. and costs $8.

The Scorcher Family has a soul-reggae vibe with dub poetry, and features the talents of Chris Braun (drums), Emilie Furst (guitar, vocals), Deon Sartin (guitar,vocals), Blacksky (vocals, percussion), Tamara Key (vocals, percussion), Ralph Heineck (trumpet, vocals) and KT Rusch (electric bass, vocals).

OMC recently caught up with Rusch, and asked her a few questions about her band.

OMC: How and when did the band start?

KR: Chris Braun, David Robinson and I began getting together last fall to play some music. David couldn't practice when a weekly Wednesday night gig came up. We miss him but he sits in with us when he can. Blacksky started coming over shortly after David moved on. In November 2005, Catholic priest and community activist Mathibela Sebothoma was honored with a fundraiser to send him home to South Africa for Christmas. He asked me to play. I asked Blacksky and her friend Tamara to join in on vocals and poetry. And that was the beginning. It was musically sparse, but full of potential. We didn't have any melodic instruments at the time, but the audience loved it. Scorcher Family was born.

OMC: What is the mission of the band?

KR: This band is different than any other group in Milwaukee. We are multi-cultural. We are inter-generational. We have members in their early 20s through early 40s (and I'm looking at a 60-year-old to sit in). We have diverse backgrounds and experiences. We are social workers, dance teachers, writers, painters and business owners, and mothers in addition to our musical identities. Some of us have never been in a band before. We are tied together by our mission to create original music with a soul-reggae feel and with a goal to uplift and inspire others. In a segregated city like ours, we show that different ages and races can work together under an umbrella of positive creative expression.

OMC: A friend who went to your Valentine's show said you have kick-ass lyrics. Who writes the lyrics?

KR: I write most of the lyrics at this point. Blacksky is adding beautiful-yet-gritty free-style and spoken word. Tamara is starting to add lyrics and so is Ralph. Deon and Emilie are joining in on vocals -- they are great. Emilie has an opera background. Everyone has a place and a space to shine and express themselves.

For me, the lyrics are serious creative expression. I reflect deeply on what I am saying and do my best to convey powerful messages to provoke healing and change for ourselves and our community.

OMC: What are your plans for the band? Recording? Touring? Just having fun at local clubs?

KR: We are taking it step-by-step, one show at a time. Our goal right now is to "create a sound" as artist Everton Blender says. We are focusing on all-ages, smoke-free shows, but will play at clubs as well. We're looking forward to recording and I've got a cool video project waiting in the wings. Among our band members, there are seven children and one on the way -- our families are so important to us. So we do our best to balance our work, creative lives and families. For us, a few great shows are more important than lots of club dates at this time. There are other channels to reach wide audiences and I hope to explore those this year.

OMC: Has Club Timbuktu inspired your band? Why is this club good for Milwaukee?

KR: Club Timbuktu is great for Milwaukee! All of us have crossed paths there, met there, played shows there. We love Timbuktu - check out the poem by Mathibela Sebothoma on their Web site. Timbuktu is "an intellectual and spiritual capital ... A mission for the expansion of peace..."

Scorcher Family/Mali Blues upcoming shows:

June 3 -- Shank Hall World Music Celebration, 9 p.m.
June 27 -- Summer of Peace at Kilbourn Park south of the North Avenue reservoir, 3 p.m.
June 30 -- Mali Blues at Summerfest, Potowatomi Stage, 2:30 p.m.

Talkbacks

OMCreader | June 3, 2006 at 8:12 a.m. (report)

Olde Godsil said: Hurray for Molly Snyder Edler for capturing the great spirit of the Scorcher Family Band! The Scorcher Family emancipates! Godsil

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