Brian Quinn’s electrifying funk band gears up for the release of their debut EP
Few know just how deep the Chicago music scene runs. Even fewer know the variety of acts you can catch on any given night here in the Windy City. Chicago offers a vast roster of talent from trailblazing hip-hop to classically smooth Jazz in some of the most revered venues in the United States. I have had the privilege of not only seeing many of these acts grace the stage but I’ve also shared that stage with many of them. It’s another reason I have come to love the music community here in Chicago. It is through this network of musicians that I was introduced to Brian Quinn, a local bassist.
Quinn and I took the stage together last summer for a Pandora and Sirius XM event where I took him from his funk forte to my americana roots. I was in awe at the talent this guy possessed and how easily he navigated from one style of music to the next. Quinn even put down his trusty bass and picked up an acoustic guitar for our gig. I’ll never forget the envy I felt when he said “I’m a bit rusty” as he completely nailed an intense guitar solo from our performance of Brandi Carlile’s “Raise Hell”.
Before moving to Chicago, Quinn was raised in Athens, Ohio and came to music by way of the piano keys at age six. When he was 14 years old, Quinn picked up his first bass and completely fell in love. To this day, he credits the bass as his main instrument; however, it was the flashy bassline trends that led him to funk music. Citing Flea and Les Claypool as some of his earliest influences.
“Once I got into funk music, my inspirations became players like Bootsy Collins from P-Funk, James Jamerson and Bobby Babbitt from Motown and Larry Graham from Sly & The Family Stone/Graham Central Station. Graham is still probably my biggest creative influence and I hope you can hear some of his spirit in my EP,” said Quinn.
In 2013, Quinn formed his own funk band known as bq. They played their first show in July of the same year and have been spreading “the funk” around Chicago ever since. The band is made up of a handful of talented local musicians though Quinn admits he is the one constant in his this rotating cast. You’ll hear all of the regulars on the band’s upcoming EP and at their release show on September 5. The roster includes Mike Bruno on drums, Cole Degenova on keys, George Wundsam on guitar, Ryan Tedder on tenor sax, Corbin Andrick on alto sax and Constantine Alexander on trumpet.
Quinn was inspired to form bq after feeling a lack of authentic funk in Chicago’s music scene. This same drive to bring “the funk” is also what led to the band’s debut EP “The Inner Solar System”. A title that sort of fell in Quinn’s lap.
“The name was a bit of a fluke. I had a series of instrumental compositions and I wasn’t sure what to call them. Around that same time I played a gig with a friend who had done a similar thing and decided to name all his tunes after colors,” said Quinn.
At first, he considered naming his compositions after elements of the periodic table but that felt too abstract. Enticed by the romance of the association with the cosmos, Quinn looked to the planets for titles for his compositions. Because the EP contains Mercury, Venus, and Earth, which are the three closest planets to the sun, Quinn went with “The Inner Solar System”.
The band’s upcoming EP was recorded at The Chicago Electric Piano Co. and co-produced by Quinn and bq drummer, Mike Bruno. Though the tracks were recorded mid-february of 2020, the majority of this ep was collaborated on virtually. Even though the covid pandemic has uprooted many performers way of life, this turned out to be a blessing for Quinn.
“This was fortunate timing in the sense that shortly after we laid down the tracks to my passion project, the rest of my performing career – which consumed a majority of my life – suddenly evaporated,” said Quinn.
This gave Quinn time to work on the finalizing “The Inner Solar System” and focus 100% on his passion project.
“The Inner Solar System” will be available everywhere as of today, and I encourage everyone in the Chicagoland area to grab their masks and join bq at Navy Pier on Saturday September 5, 5:30 to 8:30pm, to hear them perform live.
Swing over to Bq’s website for more info!