As a part of the sixth annual Porch Stomp season, we're working with Beehive Productions, NYC Ferry and Blue Point Brewery to bring you a series of videos featuring artists spanning the gamut of NYC folk scene (and then some). Check out our blog every month for new videos and interviews with artists, and be sure to follow us on instagram: @porchstomp and Facebook: Porch Stomp
We're excited to highlight Cole Quest and the City Pickers (CQCP) as this week's Porch Stomp Presents artist. A true all-star cast, Cole and his gang unite the finest and most distinct voices of the NYC folk and bluegrass scene to create a powerful performing unit. After years of refining their lineup and craft, this unit consists of folk and jazz stalwart Larry Cook holding down bass as well as "Banjo" Mike Mulhollan's driving picking to support the longtime trio of Cole, Christian Appuzzo and Matheus Verardino, whose fiery vocals and riveting harmonica lines (respectively) ribbon together behind Cole to create the sound we know and love today. CQCP performs a repertoire ranging from classic folk songs to gems found deep within the Woody Guthrie vault, each with a signature blend of playful, ragtag enthusiasm fueling the driving momentum of a well oiled machine. Perhaps that's what makes this band powerful: it's alive, it's fun and it's not afraid to have a unique voice.
Check out Cole Quest and the City Pickers performing "Do Re Mi" live from the Haylaught, Porch Stomp's home in Brooklyn, NYC. Continue reading for a Q&A with Cole and be sure to find his music online at the link below.
When did you first get involved with the Porch Stomp community and what is your favorite Porch Stomp memory?
I initially got involved with Porch Stomp because my cousin, Travis Tacon, came out to a local bluegrass jam I was attending one night and brought Theo! We all had a great time together, and I learned about Theo's other wonderful projects. From then on I was in the loop about all the wonderful goings on with Porch Stomp and have attended practically every event I can ever since. My favorite memory was showing up to my first Porch Stomp. Being a folk type musician in NYC, when I arrived and saw literally hundreds of other musicians and friends playing, singing, dancing and even banjo parading around the beautiful grounds of Governors Island, I was just blown away. Seeing the physicality of the music scene I'm apart of all in one place at one time was crazy. It's sort of like the "annual family reunion" of the community where everyone comes out to enjoy each other. I look forward to that family reunion every year.
What are your favorite venues to play in New York, and what are some of your favorite gigs you've played around town?
My favorite venues are the ones that have my friends and fair pay for the artists. I don't know which ones those are anymore. House concerts seem to be the most personal, authentic listening rooms with good treatment of musicians. Besides that Rockwood does a fine job.
How do you feel the Porch Stomp community fits into the larger picture of the folk music community?
I think Porch Stomp is a snowball, building up with each new person that hears about it and is interested in the arts. It's a solid chunk of the folk music community that I'm aware of, but I'm not particularly aware of too much in that sense. Porch Stomp attracts and drives people of all skills, ages and interests to be apart of something a bit bigger than themselves. I'm not ashamed to be friends with folks of all ages (old and young) because of Porch Stomp. I don't know what that means for the large picture of the folk community, but I do know, so far, it's been working to build one up.
What types of traditional or bluegrass songs do you find yourself drawn toward learning/leading and why?
I'm often looking for songs that are rooted in a real experience that I'm interested in or connect with. I'm often digging through a musicians catalog and finding their experiences that way. For example, the late John Prine, who's tales are phrased in a simple way, but have much more to it than just what you see on the page. His phrasing makes it easy for me to connect to. As each year goes by I find myself digging into artists that are passing us by, John Cohen, Pete Seeger for example. Now that they're gone, I like to try and do my best to preserve some of the special parts of their lives, so I can try and do the best with mine.
What's one piece of advice you'd offer to musicians looking to become more active in the NYC bluegrass scene?
Just do it. It's what I still tell myself all the time. If I'm feeling lazy, or frustrated, or nervous, if I'm not sure whats going to happen, I tell myself the same thing, just do it. If you're unsure, or scared it won't work out, there's only one way to find out, just try it. Didn't work out? Try it again, but different, don't give up too easily. The second most important piece of advice is to be aware. Look and listen before diving into something. Be aware of your fellow artists, do your homework, ask questions, listen and then give it a try! Thats how I do it. Good luck!
For more information about Cole Quest and the City Pickers, visit :
Special thanks to Jeff, Sue and Redia of Beehive Productions as well as the fine folks at Blue Point Brewery for making this video possible.