Terry Everett Quiett
Caffe Luna, Boulder, Colo.
(29 April 2000)

"I'm so tired of pastry," explained the woman behind Caffe Luna's counter as she paid the pizza delivery man. Well, it's true that everyone needs something different in their lives. Too bad she didn't wait a few more minutes. A sudden thunderstorm hit what otherwise was a dry Colorado day, and Terry Everett Quiett's live show started soon after. Both the unexpected downpour and Quiett's performance by themselves could have provided her evening with a striking twist. Who needed pizza?

On his first real road trip away from his Winfield, Kansas, home, Quiett returned to his home state for a brief solo tour. "It feels good to see mountains again," he admitted. "In honor of all the moisture in the air," he opened with "Wading In," a song with an inviting rhythm and symbolic "watery" lyrics: "One step at a time, one foot before the next, just like mine / We'll submerge and we'll be fine." After requesting that the audience call 911 should the lightning strike too close, he segued into "Caroline," a slow, deliberate piece that featured finger-picking on his guitar (he'd previously performed it at the National Flat and Finger Picking Camp) and a rough-hewn, sad voice. The vocals had seemed muted initially, but during this song's dramatic crescendo, Quiett backed up from the microphone and his true voice with all of its resonance became perfectly clear.

"Lay Down Your Cards," his single, uses gambling imagery sunk into his subconscious from family card games to express its statement about making dreams come true. "What could I have been if it would have come true?" she asks after wondering, "Hey, what's wrong with me?" in the song's crescendo.

Quiett's inviting songs tend to most feature powerful crescendos. Amazingly, they do not become predictable; he doesn't merely play a bridge and raise his voice. He emits evocative emotions through his voice and guitar. "Miles to Go," a newer song, features yet another crescendo so strong that it was hard to believe that there merely was one voice and guitar on stage without any special effects enhancing them. This song's chorus shows off his voice -- rough at moments, yet soft and thoughtful when necessary.

"Burning Down," a slow dramatic piece with a folk feel, has "probably the single oddest inspiration for a song," Quiett explained. He'd just seen Blade, the Wesley Snipes vampire film, and was listening to both NPR and the BBC on the long drive home. Quiett demonstrates an almost Spanish-sounding guitar style to set off the seemingly existentialist lyrics: "I'm smiling through the falling flakes inside a snow globe / on a mantelpiece within a house that's beginning to burn down."

Switching guitar styles wasn't a problem for Quiett. "All Good to Me" gradually progressed to a Middle Eastern flair. The song's initially peaceful atmosphere rang of a slow journey -- the way a car trip in a remote area can feel. Even if you're driving at 75 mph, when the scenery doesn't change too quickly, you're left with the impression that you're standing still. "All Good to Me" recreates that feeling. He describes driving across the wetland "deserts" of Texas and his inception to the pine trees of the southern Colorado mountains and "home," but his vocalizing and ad libs take him to Middle Eastern deserts and Lebanon cedars.

These images, and ones from his other songs, were enhanced by Quiett's between-song patter. He indeed was very conversational for a musician on his initial tour. He thought that he enough stories about a man named Edwin (from "Dance with Edwin") to merit a short novel. (Interestingly, the nifty scat at the end of that number was not, he claimed, how he usually ended that song.) He shared his experiences growing up with a minister father and how the week-long revivals paralleled the circus coming town to explain the inspiration behind "Circuit Line."

Quiett is a singer-songwriter who knows how to work with his audience and share part of his soul for an evening. Audience members from this initial mini-tour might recall years later that "they saw him when." Quiett has the talent, both in songwriting and performing, to take him beyond the ordinary, break out of the pack, and add that much needed difference to his listeners' lives.

[ by Ellen Rawson ]