Monday, February 15, 2010

The Ravenna Colt interview

Johnny Quaid joined his cousin, Jim Olliges, in 1998 on a musical project that would become the very popular and acclaimed My Morning Jacket. He stayed through three albums, providing guitar and engineering services. Quaid left in 2004, when he moved to California and began working as a carpenter. His new band, The Ravenna Colt, takes its name from a book written in 1902, The Art of Taming and Educating the Horse. In it, author Dennis Magner describes The Ravenna Colt, "a virtually untamable, yet not necessarily barbarous animal." Compared to his previous band, this one is more akin to his version of the country troubadour tradition. The Ravenna Colt will play a record release show at Zanzabar on February 19th, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $8.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Louisville, Ky. I lived in Middletown until I was about 8. We moved to Simpsonville after that. After high school, I moved to Shelbyville to work on the family farm.

Is your family musical or artistic?

I have this one bearded cousin that is in a band with a funny name, something about a jacket or coat or something, I think he's got some potential, haha. My great-great-grandfather had a small orchestra and I believe they played parlor music. I had a great uncle that was a talented bluegrass guitar player. I have lots of aunts and cousins that are really talented in visual art, film and music. We're kind of like the Partridge Family without the bus.

What is your musical background / training?
I got started into music early on. Being slightly hyperactive - okay, maybe just wild - my mom thought it would be good to "channel" my energy and enrolled me in violin lessons in the suzuki program at 5 years old. I got on stage and felt right at home. I was the only kid in the class that showed up in jeans and cowboy boots. I stopped playing around 9 or 10 years old. I really wish now that I would have stuck with it, and I still hope to pick it up one of these days. I played piano for a year. At then at the age of 12, I was corrupted for life when a classmate at school started taking guitar lessons. From then on I was either at school, doing chores on the farm or locked in my room trying to learn the fastest Metallica riff I could manage. I took guitar lessons for about 5 years from a really great teacher, Greg Pullen. He really inspired me, and I would go as far as saying changed my life!

Who are your musical favorites/inspirations?
Ah, the dreaded influence question that we all despise, but secretly love to answer! I was inspired early on by what my mom listened to, we wore out her copy of Born in the USA and Thriller albums! My guitar heroes are Keith Richards and Angus Young, Slash, and all the other standard government issue rock guitar players. When it comes to songwriting, I am inspired by guys like Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, John Prine, Otis Redding and everything and everyone that I've ever heard. I love all styles and genres of music.

What bands/projects are you currently involved with? How did you get involved with them?
My project is called The Ravenna Colt. It's an outlet for my work as a songwriter. I've had the good fortune to have some really talented friends work on my album and join me on stage. I tracked some lead guitar work in the studio for local hometown heroes, The Debutantes. I also just did some production work for a string band called The Downtown County Band. I love working in the studio, it's a very special feeling to listen to a song come to life and grow into its own entity.

What do you hope to achieve with music?

Happiness. I can really feel my mood change after I have been working on music. I feel very alive when I'm performing and writing songs. I hope the listener feels that and shares that same sentiment. I would love to think that my kids or grandkids might be interested in my musical endeavors, but they'll probably think I'm a goofball playing ancient music!

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c. 2010 Velocity Weekly

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