Kessler Theater Front-Of-House Man Paul Quigg Finds a Niche in Oak Cliff
Though his musical heyday might be in the rear view mirror, Quigg is not completely resigned from being a musician. Actually, just last year he performed gypsy jazz on acoustic guitar to warm up for Marc Ribot at the Kessler. But his new art form, at least for the time-being, is directing the technical, front-of-house duties at the Kessler.
See, Quigg is part of a very special creative braintrust that takes light and sound very seriously at the Kessler. Suffice it to say, he won't settle for anything less than the best overall presentation of a live show. And yes, while this benefits the local music scene, it works well for the other forms of art that come through the theater, including the dance studio which occupies the space during the week.
All one has to do to really appreciate what an amazing contribution Quigg makes to our local music scene is experience a show at The Kessler.
But, there's more to it than just that, he's also in the process of producing the new Dove Hunter LP. Quigg will touch on this, as well as a live album he just finished for Damon K. Clark, a couple other producer-irons-in-the-fire he has in the works, and his Kessler gig, after the jump.
Yes, but it relates to some things I did quite a lot of in the past. When Jeff first mentioned Edwin [Cabaniss] and the Kessler, I was excited that a venue of its type was returning to the area. I had worked in television and theater quite a lot in the '70s and '80s, as well as recording and producing a good bit over the years, so it was cool to be able to tap into all of that. I have always loved the many facets of theater and production, and it was an amazing opportunity to create a truly exceptional venue for the artists, but also for the lovers of music, art and dance. It really is some good fun too!
The word around the campfire is that you're very, very good at what you do for the Kessler's live shows. Can you expound on that?
First of all, I am truly humbled by the praise, and very grateful as well. Initially, it's about learning the acoustic personality of a room, then fixing over and over again, so to speak. The more different types of sound and music you've worked with, the better off you'll be. The physics of all this is as beautiful as the music, in my book. Every show is different, and we do a very wide variety of music styles etc. On a show to show basis, it involves making the very most of our ability to adjust, so to speak. For sound, this means re-tuning the room and system to best enhance the musical style, followed by the obvious miking up and tweaking all the instruments and voices to get it as amazing for the artist and the listeners as possible. The idea is to achieve that transcendent experience for all. That's so elusive sometimes in a live show. Everyone who loves live music as either a performer, or listener or both, has probably had these experiences. This is what we always strive for. It has an urgent dynamic in that it's in real time as opposed to studio work, where one can take much more time to get things right. It can be pretty gnarly, but the adrenaline and subsequent rush of excitement when you have a great show is truly a wonderful feeling.
The way you approach sound crafting at the Kessler brings to mind Kyle Thomas, a colleague of yours who has also been interviewed here. He seems to approach his lighting designs for the Kessler from a very personal and artistic angle.
Kyle Thomas is invaluable to me in what I do. He does the lion's share of all lighting on a show-to-show basis. Our philosophy on lighting design tends more towards the aesthetic of theater than perhaps to what one sees in most music venues. Kyle, being a musician, does an amazing job of painting scenes as the music happens in a very dramatic and beautiful way. I have seen him create some absolutely breath taking moments.
Obviously you, Kyle and Jeff (among others, I'm sure) care for it very much. Is it a labor of love?
We do indeed care. I suppose some of this is answered above, but I would add that our collective experience drives a good bit of that. We have both been blessed with our share of good fortune in our love of music. The positive and negative experiences that naturally come with years gone by are so very instructive and inspiring. Having the opportunity to create a venue that gets as much right as we can is a precious opportunity, and we are both deeply committed to doing our absolute best. Edwin and Lisa have provided an amazing opportunity for us as well as all who have a love for the arts. I must also mention Kessler's Melissa Hennings, who goes way beyond the call, and Amy Ero as well. The team and support is always so crucial to any success one might achieve.
Care to rave about some area music you've heard recently that really stands out in your mind?
Man, I wouldn't know where to start. I've been blown away more times than I can count. I am especially fond of all the folk music variants popping up. Being a lover of old-timey music, I also love just about anything inspired by pre-World-War-Two-era stuff. If I start naming names, this will get out of hand, and be very long. Our current stars, such as Annie Clark and Sarah Jaffe are both astounding. I get to witness and be a part of some music that is just so damn good. The talent pool is very diverse, and very good here these days.
What's next for you on your path, Paul?
I'm getting back into producing right away, and have some projects going or happening soon. I've been working on a live record for the Jitterbug Vipers via multi-track recordings of live shows at the Kessler. They have another show soon, and we'll then select from all we have and see if they like any of it. Hope so. I'll be working on some tracks with Dove Hunter soon, and Trinity River Folk is in the works also. What I must do is get back to playing and writing as well. I just don't feel like my whole self without that in the mix. It's been a few minutes too long on that, and I'm always happier with that on the calendar too.