Once upon a time, a big voiced, ambitious young guitar slinger showed up at Chess Records in Chicago for an audition. It was sometime in 1964. After belting out one song, a mysterious hooded figure tapped the young prospect on the shoulder from behind, and whispered in his ear: “come with me. I need you 45 years in the future…”
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Upon first hearing Quinn DeVeaux and the Blue Beat Review, I seriously felt like I was experiencing what it must have been like to dance the night away in an old juke joint in the ’50s and ’60s, back when Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and Little Walter were making history and inspiring the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. He had the requisite guitars and drums, plus a swingin’ upright bass player in his band. But adding the hip-shaking Quinntettes on backing vocals gave the show an added vocal oomph and some visual encouragement to keep those feet movin’.
The particular night I first heard Quinn was a gig he headlined at The Starry Plough in Berkeley, California. Ash Reiter had the middle slot. By that time, I was already a die hard Ash Reiter fan and friend. She was not only playing my favorite music in the Bay Area, but also introducing me to so many others who I have continued to follow and spotlight here in the Parlour to Parlour series. She was also really getting a good grip on the art of bringing an audience to their feet and keeping them there. She did exceptionally well in that regard on this particular night. So when Quinn took the stage with the Blue Beat Review, he had a warmed up audience in the palm of his hand – and he injected us all with an extra large dose of dancing adrenaline, playing a mix of classic blues and R&B covers (“Got My Mojo Working,” “They All Asked For You,” and “Tiger In Your Tank” among others) and equally fun originals. After that night, it would be impossible to forget the name Quinn DeVeaux.
On the day we filmed this interview, about a year after I first met him, Quinn was getting ready to move to a new place nearby his current Oakland neighborhood. And yet, as the essence of a traveling musician goes, so does the feeling of home. It was all with him, and it’s all there in his new place too. What’s more, Quinn was riding high on the good feeling of having released his first full band album, Under Covers. Produced by Blue Beat Review drummer Matthew MacGillivray, Under Covers is a short but sweet run through nine classic tunes, from Sam Cooke’s “Good News” to Ray Charles’ “Leave My Woman Alone,” and of course my personal favorite, Muddy Waters’ “Tiger In Your Tank.” Quinn also quite memorably revises The Meters’ “They All Asked For You” so that it’s Oakland specific, solidifying his place in the Bay Area and adding his own personal stamp to Oakland’s long history of producing top shelf R&B music.
A note about the performance:
Quinn often performs in at least three different configurations. For his big party-time events at high capacity venues, he is generally found with his full Blue Beat Review band, consisting of drummer Matthew MacGillivray, bassist Kenan O’Brien and keyboardist Chris Siebert along with the Quinntettes on backing vocals. Sometimes Quinn will play with a smaller Quinntette-less group. And then there’s Quinn the solo acoustic performer, where his folky side comes to the fore.
The performance we filmed captured Quinn the solo artist, playing an original tune called “Judy” from his first album, the entirely solo Lions On Lakes. The performance captured Quinn in a casual backyard setting that he often favors even when no camera is present. Towards the end you can hear a Bart train speeding off in the distance – Quinn was living very close to the MacArthur Bart station at the time of filming. And then the sky gave us a pleasant surprise at the very end…
Quinn DeVeaux, “Judy”
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Hear more from Quinn DeVeaux:
Quinn DeVeaux – Judy
Quinn DeVeaux and the Blue Beat Review – All Night Long
- Buy Lions on Lakes
- Buy Under Covers
- Keep up with Quinn at his Facebook page and his official website: www.quinndeveaux.com