RIP: Dick Quinn, Super Music Fan, 1947-2015
Review and concert photographs by Ed Conway
My apologies to Billy Eli, a fine Austin-based singer-songwriter, as this was supposed to be a quick review of his show a couple of weeks ago. Instead, I am writing about a friend who was a true friend to many musicians, both locally and around the country, but I think Billy would understand, as he was one of those friends. Billy’s show was the last time I saw Dick Quinn and may have been the last show Dick saw (it’s hard to tell as he always had a habit of showing up despite not feeling well). Dick had been sick for many years, but would go out to as many as seven shows a week. He checked himself out of the hospital to attend a show on more than one occasion – it’s hard to tell as he didn’t always talk much about his health.
His dedication to the music scene was greatly appreciated by all who knew and loved Dick and was reciprocated by venues and bands alike. Dick had a permanently reserved table at the Ale House in Troy, as well as a parking spot outside the door so that he had a place to plug in his ever present oxygen machine and limit the distance he had to walk. There wasn’t always a sign, but patrons knew this and respected it. At any given show, Dick would talk about many things related to music and common friends, but not in a gossiping manner.
More often than not, he would wave someone over and with a devilish grin tell them a joke or two, often times not repeatable in mixed company. These jokes became his trademark, but it wasn’t necessarily the joke, but the delivery that made them funny. He had a comic’s timing. As an indication of the respect he had from local musicians, they all got together not once, but twice to play a gig just for him – not a benefit or paid concert, a show just for him. So many bands had signed up, there wasn’t time to put them all on the bill. Bands such as the Chandler Travis Three-O traveled from Cape Cod, just to take part. The last one took place just a few weeks ago (sadly, I was out of town and couldn’t go both times).
Another of his favorites, a band from down the Hudson Valley called the Five Points Band asked Dick to be in their music video of “Old Man River.” Check it out as he can be seen walking up the stairs in the opening scene.
On this particular night, things were not beginning well. The show was scheduled to start at 7pm so Dick arrived his customary two hours before the show. The plan was for Kevin Maul and Kyle Esposito to do a short opening set before Eli’s show. Unfortunately, this plan was quickly discarded because the Giants were playing the Patriots, and many people were there to watch the game on TV. It was decided to wait until the game was over to start playing, but as the evening moved along, it was clear that it was best just to go right into the main show.
Dick was telling me that he wasn’t feeling well and that he had recently spent several days in the hospital. The table next to us had a young family watching the game with loud children. All of this coupled with the 45-minute delay of the show was making him second guess his decision to come out. Despite all of this, though, he still managed to tell us a joke (and apologize that he only had one quick one). Finally, the game ended, the family left, and the show began.
Billy’s backing band was made up of local musicians – Kyle Esposito on bass, Kevin Maul on steel guitar/lap steel and Evan Conway on lead guitar. Despite the rough start to the evening, the show was wonderful. The crowd was quite sparse, but those in attendance enjoyed themselves very much. More importantly, Dick had a great time, and each of the members of the band had a great time visiting with him. None of us realized at the time that this would be the last time we would see him at a show.
Rest in peace, Dick. You deserve it.
NOTE: A memorial service for Dick Quinn will be held at McLoughlin & Mason Funeral Home in North Troy from 2-5pm on Saturday, December 12. All are invited.
Obituary for Dick Quinn