NQ ARBUCKLE (9 pm), with the Sadies (1 am), Stars (midnight), King Cobb Steelie (11 pm) and the Two-Minute Miracles (10 pm), at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina), Friday (February 28). $10 or wristband. 416-777-1777.
NQ Arbuckle gives great story. like the one about a uniformed RCMP who approached Arbuckle (born Neville Quinlan) after a gig in Ottawa. Traffic-ticket dodger Arbuckle was quaking at the thought of finally being caught until the officer asked for advice about his own police garage band. Shooting the shit with Arbuckle is like hanging out in a deliciously dark Tom Waits tune -- no surprise there, since his gift of gab extends to his songs.
The lyrics on his first disc, last year's Hanging The Battle-Scarred Piñata, are grotty confessionals about broken hearts and bad-news girls layered over rough alt-country acoustic guitars and pedal steel.
"All of it is very accidental writing," Arbuckle demurs, drinking pints to ward off the cold in a dim Parkdale bar.
"I'll go to the bar with my friends, get drunk, come home and write a few clever lines -- or at least I think they're clever at the time. I don't even have any choruses on any of 'em. I'm tryin' to figure out how to write a chorus and a fuckin' bridge. Like, holy jeez! But I like to think that none of the lines are settling for easy rhymes. There are no great morals."
Maybe not, but it's an auspicious debut for an urban cowboy who started out playing The Dukes Of Hazzard theme song for the regulars in Montreal country bars before he was 16.
These days he runs with an impressive musical pack that includes bandmates John Dinsmore (also the bassist for Sarah Slean, who shows up on Arbuckle's album), and twins Peter and Mark Kesper (Hawksley Workman's drum dude), along with fellow guitar-slingin' outlaw Luke Doucet, whose production skills give Hanging The Battle-Scarred Piñata an intense intimacy.
Arbuckle says making the record with Doucet was a low-key affair.
"For me it was like a holiday. Wake up at 10, have your eggs and bacon, go downstairs in your pyjamas and start recording.
"There are a bunch of albums that I'd love my record to sound like: most of the Vic Chesnutt stuff, all the Richard Buckner stuff. I haven't heard Nebraska in years, but I always remember the production of it, how fuckin' lo-fi it was. We just recorded on tape, using this weird microphone that Howard Redekopp dug up. His father, a missionary, used to run a radio show in South Africa where he recorded gospel choirs using this old microphone. So there's kinda good vibes in that thing."email@example.com