Music

Johnny Quaid Goes with the Flow on The Ravenna Colt's Terminal Current

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In a handful of articles, Johnny Quaid (aka, John McQuade) is called a "nomad" and a "wandering troubadour." It's an apt description considering how many change-of-address cards he may have filled out: After leaving the near-constant touring band My Morning Jacket in 2004, Quaid moved back to his home state of Kentucky, crossed the country to California and then trekked back to Tennessee before hearing the siren call of the City of Trees.

"I wasn't aware [I had been called] that," Quaid said. "Maybe it's from all the touring and traveling I did with My Morning Jacket... I was home so little and constantly living out of a suitcase. And I grew up on a farm in Shelbyville—it's about 30 minutes east of Louisville, Ky." Although he thinks "free spirit" might be more fitting, Quaid said he is one of the few people in his large family who lives out of state.

"So I think by Kentucky standards, I am nomadic," he added, laughing.

The musician is anything but a nomad now, though. About five years ago, some opportunities arose that Quaid couldn't pass up and now his wife and their two grade-school age children call Boise home, which is something that both surprises and doesn't surprise Quaid.

"It was one of those things," he said. "I really feel that way; I'm not just saying that to sound mysterious. Boise picked us. I'd been here one time before with My Morning Jacket to play at Neurolux ... but hadn't had a long, quality stay [in Boise]. Then some doors opened up and all of a sudden we were here. Literally, I'm not exaggerating, we completely fell in love with it. Like on day one. It's such a great place to live, and I feel so at home here. If somebody had told me 10 years ago that I would end up in Boise, Idaho, I probably would have laughed... but now, we're dropping anchor. We're here."

Part of what Quaid loves about Boise is that he is able to foster his creativity. He never stopped being a musician, but he wasn't interested in trying to recapture the magic of MMJ. The Ravenna Colt, his solo/collaborative project, allows him to feed his passion for making music and work with other musicians without the pressures of being in a band. Terminal Current (Karate Body Records, Feb. 2015), The Ravenna Colt's sophomore release, reflects Quaid both artistically and personally. While The Ravenna Colt's debut release, Slight Spell (Removador, 2010), gave expression to feelings of retrospection, Terminal Current has him totally in the present and shines a light on Quaid's ability as a storyteller to tap into an "inner darkness" while at the same time acknowledging the happiness in his life—something that can be difficult to do. Terminal Current's Americana/country melodies are also an excellent example of Quaid's musicianship and gift for creating addictively listenable tunes—even if he isn't a stellar vocalist.

"I don't think I'm a great singer, and I don't think I have a great voice," Quaid said. "I'm a big fan of 'non-singers' like Townes Van Zandt and Tom Waits, guys who don't have textbook great voices, but their music and emotion is so powerful that in my opinion, they do have great voices. ... And I just can't have anyone else sing [my songs]. I surrender to that and say, 'I'm not going to win America's Got Talent,'" Quaid added with a chuckle.