CLICK TO LISTEN TO THE SONG It’s Not Dark Yet, sung by Porkbelly Futures featuring Paul Quarrington with Rebecca Campbell and Chas Elliott, Stuart Laughton, Martin Worthy.
In Sept. 2008 Chas Elliott and I wended our way up to his cottage in the Kawarthas. Chas is the resident “Bon Vivant” in our band Porkbelly Futures and apart from playing the bass, he advises on all the finer things in life. Specifically, food and drink. The menu had been planned, so the talk on the way up was about wine. We were the advance team for the rest of the Porkbellys who were due to arrive the next day.
Adjacent to his cottage is a storage shed. It may have once been a garage of some kind but now it’s where they store the sort of things one finds put aside at a lakeside cottage. Children’s size cross country ski’s, a weightlifting bench with various weights, a rug, two slabs of drywall, a slalom water ski, a chainsaw and couple of old tires, an odd number of snow shoes and a table saw. We emptied out the shed and put its contents outside under the trees and covered it all with tarps and plastic sheets. Inside the now empty shed, we rolled out the carpet and proceeded to set up my drums, his bass gear and our portable recording equipment. Mics, stands, computers and cables were all connected. We did some level checks and waited for everyone to arrive.
The next day Paul Quarrington, Rebecca Campbell and Stuart Laughton rolled in with instruments, groceries and just the right amount of wine. You know how much that is… For the next four days we would be playing, writing, recording and experimenting. These recordings were going to be for our ears only. No one but ourselves would hear them and with that in mind we could truly let our guard down and be as bad or as brilliant as providence would allow. Not much thought was given to what we’d actually play on each song, although often there was at least a short discussion about song structure. I guess you could say that these sessions could be called “pre-production” sessions that would eventually lead to a new record. But truthfully we were just hoping to have some fun, find out more about each other musically and perhaps take Porkbelly Futures to places we didn’t think was possible.
We had done this a few times before and each time we had discovered something remarkable. On this occasion we had an assemblage of new songs, half finished songs and a notion to try a couple of cover tunes. We had talked before about doing some covers and it seemed to make sense that we should do at least one Dylan tune. Paul had chosen “It’s Not Dark Yet.”
At the end of the recording, as the strains of the final chord faded, I remember looking up and into the eyes of my bandmates. It felt, as the spell melted away, like we were slowly surfacing from some deep immersion. I can clearly recall turning and looking out the window to my left, through the trees and out onto the lake. There was a sense of calm and gratitude for the privilege of sharing such a moment with these gifted musicians and friends.
Dylan’s lyric “It’s not dark yet…but it’s getting there” hung in the air. And as Paul had sung those words, no one in that shed was aware that he was already gravely ill. Eight months later our dear friend would be given a fatal cancer diagnosis. Inspired by his courage and lust for life, we would climb aboard his bandwagon and go careening through the next eight months, at an ever frenzied pace. Straight at the precipice that lay ahead, January 21,2010, without letting up.
I believe there was only one take of this song. There’s only one on the hard drive and I think that if we had done another, we would have at least fashioned a proper ending for it. Oh well…
When I listen to this, I am transported back to that precious moment and at the same time, I find myself looking ahead. Looking ahead wistfully to what might have been. But also looking forward, as Paul would’ve done, to what might be. Oh the possibilities! But most of all, I feel love and gratitude.
So as you listen to this, if you find yourself dwelling on the past, cherish it. And if your eye sets upon the future, run headlong into it. And if you’re near someone you care for, tell them you love them.
The December issue of Maple Blues Magazine had this to say about PBF’s latest recording…..
This quirkily named supergroup was formed by four close friends: Canadian Brass trumpeter Stuart Laughton, novelist Paul Quarrington, veteran drummer Martin Worthy & classically trained bassist Chas Elliott. Hanging out at the yet-to-be-renovated Gladstone Hotel, they performed songs that drew on their diverse backgrounds, calling themselves ‘a thinking person’s bar band’. Rebecca Campbell joined as a vocalist for the self-titled second CD. Meanwhile, Quarrington had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and, as was his fashion, went into overdrive mode, recording his solo CD among his diverse other projects. Many of his new songs were too personal for a Porkbellys album and most of them are outside the scope of this column as well, although you’ ll enjoy the fishing song, “Big Ol’ Bass”, with Colin Linden on dobro and “Hey Hollywood” will stay with you for days. Quarrington had been the lead vocalist for the band and wrote many of their songs. One gap has been filled by Worthy & Campbell, who now share vocal duties. As for the writing, Quarrington and his passing dominate the disc. Three songs were written by him, three were written with Worthy and another about him. The CD opens with Worthy’s rollicking tribute. He had been with Quarrington on the day the diagnosis was delivered. They were sitting in the back yard and Quarrington brought out a lot of wine. The song is “I Ain’t
10 MapleBlues December 2010
Leaving (‘Til The Wine Is Gone)”. Two of Quarrington’s are excellent rockers, “Nothing Costs A Nickel” had been on the set list for a long time but never recorded and “It Deals With You”, which came to him after watching a game show. Martin Worthy and longtime producer/ collaborator David Gray contributed “BooCatDo”, which all cat lovers will relate to. It and the opening song point to Worthy as the one picking up the torch. He has big shoes to fill. He does have help, though, and that includes the full band: Teddy Leonard continues on lead guitar and Chris Brown replaces the late Richard Bell on keyboards. The concluding song is by Quarrington & Worthy. “The Crooked Road” is the route to the journey’s end, gently & beautifully sung by Worthy & Campbell over a couple of acoustic guitars. No other song would have sufficed. There’s lots more at www. porkbellys.com.
Porkbelly Futures will be celebrating the release of their 3rd. CD “The Crooked Road” at Hugh’s Room on Tues. Nov.16. After 3 weeks on the road in the western provinces we’re back and ready to party. Please join us!
For tickets and reservations call Hugh’s Room 416 531 6604 or www.hughsroom.com
Friday night in Bragg Creek Alberta has to be one of the wildest affairs! The dance floor was packed and the good times rolled. We’ll be back!
What a great night in Twin Butte Alberta. These folks know how to host and have fun. We love it here! Tonight, Bragg Creek.
Tuesday night we rocked Regina on our first stop on The Crooked Road Tour. We got a standing “O” at the end of the night and everyone there bought a CD. Great fun and a great start!
NEW CD RELEASED ON CORDOVA BAY RECORDS OCTOBER 19th!
September 27, 2010 (Victoria, BC) – Cordova Bay Records is pleased to announce the release of Porkbelly Futures’ 3rd CD – The Crooked Road.
From folk to blues, country to rock, The Crooked Road once again gives listeners the music that is uniquely Porkbelly Futures. With a fall tour (whose routing mirrors the CD’s name) beginning October 12th in Regina, the group begins a new chapter.
Followers of Porkbelly Futures will know that this recording was not destined to fall into place like the two that had come before it. In January of this year the group lost their lead singer and founding member – author, musician, filmmaker and playwright – Paul Quarrington
Paul’s joie de vivre, silenced by lung cancer, can be found in corners and pockets of the recording, but at the core lives the heart and soul of each member. The Crooked Road is a CD that speaks to optimism and resilience and an acknowledgement that nothing was meant to stay the same.
With the vocal roles now taken on by Martin Worthy and Rebecca Campbell, many of the tracks were co-written by Paul, alongside his longtime friend Martin.
“I Ain’t Leavin (‘Til The Wine is Gone)” was Paul’s answer to his diagnosis, as he returned to the house on that fateful day with several bottles of fine wine – there would be, he said, “no more cheap wine”!
“Crazy Rain”, penned by Worthy is about a year of firsts – specifically the first time he imagined going fishing without Paul – a pastime they loved. Quarrington called fishing ‘an act of faith’ – you could not be a pessimist and be a fisherman – very much a metaphor for how Paul lived his life.
The title track, was the last song Worthy and Quarrington would work on together, but not in the usual way. As Paul was getting near the end, he and Martin talked about “The Crooked Road”. Martin felt he had the body of the song completed, but it needed Paul to come in with a fourth verse and tie it together, which had always been his special talent. When Paul heard the song however, he talked it through with Martin – he didn’t actually write the fourth verse but rather told him how to close it out. It was classic Quarrington – to stand back – take it in – and offer up an observation that once stated was seemingly so obvious you would wonder how you missed it.
And so “The Crooked Road” leads Porkbelly Futures into the next decade with their trademark sound, their love for playing live and their ever present muse quietly guiding the way.
October 12 - Regina, SK - The Cultural Exchange www.culturalexchange.ca
October 13 – Lethbridge, AB – The Slice www.theslice.ca
October 14 – Twin Butte, AB – Twin Butte General Store and Mexican Restaurant www.twinbuttestore.ca
October 15 - Bragg Creek, AB - The PowderHorn Saloon www.powderhornsaloon.ca
October 16 - Banff, AB - Margaret Greenham Theatre – Celebrate Paul Quarrington (Banff Centre) www.wordfest.com
October 18 - Kelowna, BC - Minstrel Cafe and Bar www.minstrelcafe.com
October 20 - Denman Village, BC - The Back Hall www.artsdenman.com/venues/community-hall
October 21 - Duncan, BC - Duncan Garage Showroom www.duncangarageshowroom.ca
October 22 - Vancouver, BC - Granville Island/Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival www.writersfest.bc.ca/events/porkbelly
October 23 - Victoria, BC - Hermann’s Jazz Club www.hermannsjazz.com
October 26 - Calgary, AB - The Ironwood Stage and Grill www.ironwoodstage.ca
October 27 - Edmonton, AB - The Blue Chair www.bluechair.ca
October 29 - Winnipeg, MB - Park Theatre & Movie Cafe www.parktheatervideo.com/cafe
October 30 - Brandon, MB - The Music Studio (204-728-7993)
November 16 - Toronto, ON - Hugh’s Room www.hughsroom.com
November 27 - London, ON - The London Music Club www.londonmusicclub.150com.com
FOR INTERVIEWS PLEASE CONTACT: Marlene Palmer/Palmer Publicity Ink, Ltd – 250-590-6261 firstname.lastname@example.org
CORDOVA BAY ENTERTAINMENT CONTACT: Jocelyn Greenwood – 250-361-1444 email@example.com
What a terrific outpouring of love and respect for our dear friend Paul in Kingston recently. His writing and songs were feted all evening at the gala opening of The Kingston Writers Festival. Throughout the night, readings and reminiscences from fellow authors (Nino Ricci, Dave Bidini, Kim Moritsugu, Stuart Ross, Dan Hill and many more) were interlaced with scenes from PQ’s plays along with music from us Porkbellys. Dave Bidini joined us for a version of his song “In The Rock Hall” inspired by Paul’s poem of the same name. The night also featured Dan Hill and myself performing in public for the first time, the song we co-wrote with Paul “Are You Ready?”
We’re all smiling in this photo because I had just averted a musical disaster by noting that I had put my capo on the wrong fret!
In anticipation of the new CD release from Cordova bay Records, Porkbelly Futures band member Martin Worthy provides fans with a few “behind the songs” anecdotes about some of the tracks. Watch the website here for music excerpts!
In my early years, I had occasion to live in a few small towns. Before the internet connected everyone everywhere, it was possible to live in a place where the world seemed to whizz past and around you. A place where there were no pressing problems and the tribulations of the inhabitants might seem so trivial that even God would give them a miss. Folks seemed to want to live there in order to “give their dreams a rest…” and get out of the fray.
I had the music idea for this song for quite a while. However, given the weight of the past year’s events, I couldn’t seem to find a lyric idea that was upbeat and fun. I looked out the window and saw my neighbour’s cat “Boo” lolling, carefree in the sun on the grass. I thought “I wish I could be just like him…”
When Paul and I first got together to write songs in 1972, we wanted to be one of the few local singer songwriter teams to play entirely our own repertoire. He would come to my place, late in the morning and each day we’d write a song. We did that for around 2 years. The good songs would stick, the others would fade. I found this lyric but neither Paul or myself could remember the music, so I wrote new music and added a few more lyrics. Again Rebecca sings the hell out of this one. The song’s about consequences. Somehow it seemed apt.
The Crooked Road
This is last song Paul and I collaborated on. We talked, late at night about a song like this. A song that seems like it has always been there. Something that’s at once new, yet familiar. I said I had an idea for a song called “The Crooked Road”. Time was running short for Paul, so the thinking was that I would begin the song, get it close and he’d wade in to finish it. When I played it for him, he wondered what I thought he should add. I said I thought it needed a fourth verse to tie it together and close it out. ( his specialty) His feeling was that, at this point, the song had a “nice open ended sense of closure. If that’s at all possible.” He could write a fourth verse but it would take the song to a place where one would have to write a lot more to get it back to where it is now. “Why don’t you just take the first line and sing it again at the end? You’re done.” Despite the fact he didn’t actually write any of the content in this song, I share the credit with him because he helped shape the notion and spirit of it. And if he hadn’t pointed the way, I might still be writing it.
The Crooked Road will be released in October 2010 – to pre-order online, visit Cordova Bay Records website here.