#45: Josie Quick
Violinist Josie Quick is always busy, whether she’s teaching, serenading a romantic wedding proposal, jamming with herself via looping, laying down tracks in the studio with Perpetual Motion, a jazz duo she shares with guitarist husband Tom Carleno, or playing with Coyote Poets of the Universe, a highly collaborative band she dubs “Progressive Alternative Americana.” She's also a skilled ceramic artist, creating signature zen pots inspired by totemic images. Quick’s answers to the 100CC questionnaire follow.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Josie Quick: I would love to have been in the room with George Martin and the Beatles working on Sergeant Pepper. I’d love to have been a part of the arranging of those songs to create such a classic album. All that creativity floating around — the air must’ve been electric. Another person who I would have loved to collaborate with is Prince. To be in the presence of a musical genius like that would be amazing. I love to be in the presence of creative energy. It gets my adrenaline going; it’s like a drug. Several years ago I got my hands on a copy of the Violin Summit LP, a recording of a concert in Basel, Switzerland, in 1966 with jazz-violin greats Stephane Grappelli, Jean-Luc Ponty, Stuff Smith and Svend Asmussen. I was so swept up in the idea of playing music with other jazz violinists that I put together my own “Rocky Mountain Violin Summit” with local jazz violinists. I did three shows, each with different lineups. They were great fun and very successful. There are so many brilliant people, it’s hard to narrow it down.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
I’m interested in finding the people who can help deal with the genie that has been unleashed. The ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Elizabeth Warren — anyone or anything combating the bigotry that I am appalled to find was sleeping under the surface. I have never been an activist, but I’ve voted and supported causes. Now I’m ready to do more. I’m brainstorming ideas to link environmental causes to my pottery, still a work in progress.
Musically, live looping has captured my imagination. There’s no end to the creative possibilities. There are many people who are doing amazing things with it. My favorite is improvising cellist Helen Gillett out of New Orleans. She’s writing and arranging beautifully brilliant things with a cello and a loop station. It almost makes me want to take up cello, but I have too much time invested in the violin.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
All creativity is wonderful — there’s nothing I want to see die. Let it all play out and see where it leads. Boredom with a trend just leads to new ideas, so run with it.
What's your day job?
I am amazingly fortunate to be a full-time musician. That means I have many music-related part-time jobs. My main source of income is teaching. I teach private lessons in classical violin as well as fiddle and jazz. I also teach adult classes at Swallow Hill Music Association. I perform as a freelance musician, and I do a lot of strolling violin. Weddings, private events and the like. I also am a studio musician, collaborating with other musicians around the world on their CD projects. I also compose, writing original music for my live looping, the bands I play in or for film and TV.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
Pretty please, can this happen?
First, I would start a foundation to provide underprivileged kids with musical instruments and private lessons. It has always bothered me that music lessons are an elitist thing, and I would like lessons to be available to everybody, regardless of economics. It should be a basic part of everyone’s education. We know that playing a musical instrument makes people smarter and happier. I just want the world to be a smarter, happier place.
I would create a venue for local niche musicians like new age, instrumental, electronic and world music. It’s hard for musicians of that ilk to find venues.
Next thing I would do is travel around the world documenting folk musicians, their instruments and their music. Globalization, climate change and economics are all causing these traditions to merge into one, and traditional music is being influenced by modern music. This is leading to some fantastic collaborations, but I’d like to preserve the original as well, just as people preserve languages that are being lost.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
I’m a proud Colorado native. I’ve lived here all my life, and although there are too many people here now, I wouldn’t leave — it’s a beautiful place. Unless that aforementioned benefactor comes through — then I’m moving to a beach on Maui.
What's the one thing Denver could do to help the arts?
Help artists understand something about the business of art, so they can live more comfortably off their art. Years ago, I attended a two-day seminar on business and the arts. It was very helpful, but all that has changed dramatically since social media came on the scene. There are so many new ways to promote what we do. I’d like to see something like that again.
I do think Denver is on the right track with what it’s doing for the arts. I’m excited to see what the new Levitt Pavilion will bring to the city. I’m hoping to play shows there with my bands, and I’m looking forward to hearing other local artists there. I’m also looking forward to the creation of the Colorado Music Strategy. They’ve got a lot of great ideas, and I hope they succeed.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
I’ve long admired Mark Sink’s photography and his efforts to promote local artists. I met him years ago, when Westword had him take photos of Perpetual Motion for the Best of Denver. He’s been our photographer for several of our CDs, and his work is always amazing.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
I think of creativity as a musical: The more you work it, the stronger it gets. I’m planning on getting plenty of exercise this year. The Coyote Poets of the Universe are working on a double CD to be released next year. Perpetual Motion is working on a “best of” CD celebrating the past 25 years of music-making. After that we plan to start recording a new CD. I would like to do a solo CD of live looping violin, and I have my first gallery showing for my pottery next October. It’s going to be a busy year.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
Musician Laurie Dameron has been doing some great work using music to educate people about the dangers of climate change. I hope she gets the attention that deserves.
Learn more about Josie Quick’s many talents online.