"I started washing dishes at the Bluegrass. I was always singing and dancing. Just singing because it's just such a spiritual thing. I kind of worked it out with my co-workers -- at 9 p.m., can I please put in my hip-hop? Then, I'd just go bananas the whole time we were closing up shop."
She thought it'd be fun to do ditties for customers and began writing and spouting some spontaneous jingles. One became a Tricky Fish anthem. (A sample: "The Tricky Fish is a fry shack in your neighborhood. With a name like that, it oughta be good. They got po' boy sandwiches and fish tacos. Miss Keeley keep it fresh, man, you really oughta go ...")
Chase's life story could well be stitched together listening to her episodic raps.
"I grew up in Shrewsbury down the road and I actually have a little rap about that 'cause I grew up behind the Coal Miner's Lounge, which was my school bus stop. It took a while to realize we were different, that we didn't have as much as, you know, our neighbors. That didn't sink in till about fourth grade."
Later, at DuPont High School, where close friends called her "Flea" because she was so small, she performed with the Bellaires ("I rang the E-flat bell!").
When boom boxes started appearing in the '80s, she felt an immediate kinship.
"I felt drawn to those kids in the hallway with their beat boxes. I wanted to be near it; I was just fascinated."
At first, she didn't think she could afford college. But she won a vocal scholarship to Ohio Valley University, a private school affiliated with the Church of Christ, a faith that doesn't believe in using musical instruments in its worship. That had the benefit of training her ear when she won a spot on the school's elite a cappella show troupe, "learning to harmonize, learning to blend with the people beside you," Chase said.
Back home, she took up teaching for 10 years, first as a science instructor at East Bank Junior High, then as a fourth-grade teacher at Pratt Elementary.
Wanting a life change, she moved on to that place of employ familiar to many a wannabe performer.
"I found myself in the restaurants, like so many struggling artists. And I'm trying to find my niche here on the East End where I'm surrounded by artistic people."
Teaspoon is on the hunt for some musical kismet, especially now that the late, lamented Teaspoon and the Whoevers found some on that mountain one exhilarating Friday night.
"Not only do you have to find other like-minded talented people, you have to find the right chemistry as well for hanging out long hours in tight spaces and getting your schedules to work together.
"So I'm looking for that kind of magic now -- to collaborate with people, to get my songs actually arranged. Trying to find that new niche."
Reach Douglas Imbrogno at doug...@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.