N.Q. ARBUCKLE with the SADIES as part of T.O. Twang on Harbourfront Centre's CIBC Stage (235 Queens Quay West), Friday (August 12), 8 pm. Free. 416-973-4000. Rating: NNNNN
Neville Quinlan, the mastermind behind local alt-country hooligans N.Q. Arbuckle, writes the sort of raucous, whiskey-soaked tunes that could only be penned by a fella familiar with the outlaw mindset.
But throw him in the middle of the prairies and the Montreal-bred city slicker reveals his true colours.
"We were playing a show in Alberta and I was chatting about rockabilly bands with a dude outside the bar when two old guys in western-style shirts pulled up in a gold-accented SUV," he recalls. "When they asked how to find some street, the dude I was talking to snarled, 'Why don't you drive back downtown, you fuckin' rich snobs?'
"They left, but all of a sudden they peeled around, drove right up on the curb, rolled the window down and yelled, 'Wanna go right now?'
"I got outta there! I tell you, there's a real frontier mentality out there."
Quinlan's had time to hone his frontier 'tude over the past few months, since he's been touring his gritty 'n' great new The Last Supper In A Cheap Town (Six Shooter) disc, which features one of the most romantic tunes ever written about street meat, out west.
He claims he picked up tons of pointers from seasoned road warrior and tourmate Carolyn Mark, who's "always on the road. She's so hardcore."
A bona fide celeb in Calgary (where she gets random 10 per cent discounts when she buys stuff), Mark roped Quinlan and his band into playing a wedding where the wasted guests did naughty things with hula hoops by night's end.
"The only person who wasn't hammered was the bride, cuz she was so pregnant, and she was pissed cuz she had to clean everything up herself."
Quinlan was just one of many rootsy renegades who stepped up to lend a hand on Mark's new Just Married (Mint) disc of duets. (See CD review, page 68.) The experience was free-wheelin' and frantic, he says, in typical Mark fashion.
"The Carolyn Mark approach is always 'We're doing this right now!' 'But I don't remember the words.' 'Doesn't matter - right now!'
"That's the thing - most of Carolyn's big moments are onstage, and she never has the time or money to make a proper record. Her recordings may be silly, but they're always fun."
Who knows? Maybe you'll be present for one of her big moments when Mark hits the Brigantine Room Friday (August 12) at 11 pm, three hours after N.Q. Arbuckle's 8 pm CIBC Stage set.