Here is a Spotify link to Emory Quinn’s “Live At Gruene Hall” album from the year 2010. Go ahead, listen to it and try not to drink all the beer.
Many different kinds of country artists play at Gruene Hall. (It’s very famous, you know; there are like, tons of pictures of it in the “Texas” section of your local Barnes & Noble.) But for some reason when a band decides to record themselves playing in it and sell it in some sweet packaging, the implication is that the band in question fancies themselves a very Gruene Hall band—a “dancehall band.”
I bought a Wade Bowen T-shirt at a concert of his my sophomore year of college and the back of it read, “This Ain’t No Dancehall Band,” underneath a picture of a human hand sporting devil rock n’ roll horns. I haven’t seen an Emory Quinn T-shirt lately, but I bet it would have a more nonchalant opinion on dancehalls.
And to be certain, Townes Van Zandt and Lucinda Williams would tell us Gruene Hall is not really that place, and your ears will tell you Emory Quinn are absolutely not that band. They have an earned “bullshitlessness” that stems from their impeccable collection of musical talent. Like many Texas musicians, they formed their band in college, played Robert Earl Keen for their drunk friends, but not all of those bands follow that with a debut as strong as 2007’s “Letting Go.” That’s when we found out these guys knew how to make resonant tunes that could light up a room, and that’s also when we saw how instrumentally interesting they could be. We have to talk about Case Bell on the bass guitar: he went all New Order with the bassline on early single “Bringing Me Down” and rarely is he relegated to simple honky-tonking in the background. Add that to the fact that there just always seems to be the correct amount of banjo involved in their records.
Friday night I was there to see Emory Quinn play before an excited but admittedly light summer crowd at The Blue Light. The beards were there in full force, as was Nathan Rigney’s circus-act guitar play. He seldom will have just one instrument attached to his person during a song: he’ll play mandolin for a verse and swing it behind his back just in time to hit an electric solo. I am not an expert on gear, so I’ll just tell you that there was a dazzling array of guitars, fiddles, and keyboards to behold.
The setlist spread around the three-album Emory Quinn catalogue along with some new material. There was an energy that seemed to build up to most recent single “Holes Through The Windows.” Despite it’s deceptively bleak lyrics, its soaring chorus provided one of the biggest sing-along moments of the night. New track “The Road Company” seemed rougher and more Bingham-esque than anything they’ve done so far. Their cover of Kings of Leon’s “Arizona” managed to stop a few people in their tracks and make the Blue Light go uncharacteristically shoegazy for a few minutes.
I was supposed to bring you a full interview with lead singer Clint Quinn Bracher (Nathan Emory Rigney provides the other half of the band name). Due to technology and stuff we were not able to bring you that, but Bracher was gracious enough to respond to five questions about things like their new EP, “Chupacabra,” which you can download for free here in exchange for liking them on Facebook.
New Slang: Your last album, “See You At The Next Light,” often concerned itself with death or at least had a very intense finality about it. I believe the line about “holding hands, flowers, and pistols” kind of sum up the mood, no?
Clint Bracher: Sums it up well. Our last album took a little bit darker turn as far as story-lines, sounds and style go. There are some upbeat songs on the album but you have to almost search for them.
NS: What’s with the Chupacabra?
CB: It’s something we joke about and talk about from time to time, and think is a great piece of folk-lore from our part of the country.
NS: Is this EP a sign of new material to come?
CB: We’re constantly working on new material as it comes. The EP was fun to do because we covered a couple of songs we love to play live and got to lay down a studio recording of the song “The Road Company.”
NS: What will a new album sound like? Where are you finding inspiration during the writing/recording process?
CB: We just kind of take it as it comes. The new songs have the originality of our music style but are different at the same time. We don’t want to be remaking what we already have done.
NS: I was talking to a friend last night about y’all and they said “Emory Quinn has a live album at Gruene Hall? But they’re not a dancehall band.” What is your take on that?
CB: I completely agree with that. We are far from a dancehall band. At the same time, Gruene Hall isn’t really a dance hall to me. It’s a great music venue that hosts good bands that you aren’t going to see playing at your typical “dancehall.”
NS: Bonus question. You did a Kings of Leon cover. Talk about your decision to choose “Arizona” over “Sex On Fire.”
CB: We’ll leave “Sex on Fire” to the Kings. I don’t think we could pull that one off [Laughs].