Empire Fall Dinner

Out On Top

photo by Jim Newberry
Materville Studios: Lisa Hernandez, Katie Jacobson, Martie Maro

The members of the band Stewed Tomatoes discovered what many musicians discover in their college years; they needed to live music, professionally and personally. Kathryn Jacobson, Martie Marro and Lisa Hernandez played the requisite open-mic nights, set up a website for their group, and faced the daunting schedules of gouging recording studios who rent out space to struggling musicians.

“We went through several band members over the years and we realized that what we needed was what we already had: each other,” Jacobson says of their professional beginnings. “We decided to do it on our own, by ourselves.”

So, eschewing any musical assumptions about the impossibility of a non-combative, successful trio, the three friends founded Materville studios in the early Nineties (“mater” being an affectionate nickname for “Tomato”). The studios offered reasonable spaces in which musicians could practice, as well as video and web production for clients. Since then, the trio’s struggles and successes in the music industry have garnered them eclectic, high-profile clients like Francis Ford Coppola, Margaret Cho, Cydi Lauper and Ilene Chaiken.

“Our ability to adapt and learn is one of our unique aspects,” says Jacobson. “Another unique aspect is that we all live together and make music together … a lot of times people see us as one person.”

It’s a friendly synchronicity that’s kept the friends both professionally and artistically successful over the years, even in a male-dominated industry full of challenges. “We don’t look like your typical businesswomen. A lot of people tend to judge you right away from what you’re wearing and how you look. A lot of them see a shaved head and think, ‘oh, lesbian.’ I think that’s less and less of an issue. I think one person at a time we’re knocking those issues down.”

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