On the first Monday of the month, the Parlour on North Main Street is briefly transformed into a community of “Quadlibetic Quoristers Questing a Quantuplicity of tunes.” In other words, the Quahog Quire, a quirky and dedicated group of folk singers, is in the house.
These monthly medleys bring together a tight-knit group of professional musicians and passionate amateurs from across the state to sing a repertoire of folk staples and traditional songs of all genres that make everyone want to join in. In fact, if there’s one rule by which the motley crew abides, it’s that they are a community first (“not a performance group, not not a performance group,” says Amy Webb, a regular participant), dedicated to making music that is impossible to resist when the chorus comes a-calling.
The group was founded three years ago when Rachel Maloney, then co-leader of acoustic band the Providence Whole Bellies, found herself injured and unable to play her faithful fiddle. The musicians and fans that had gathered around them decided that the music had to survive – in a cappella form. Originally little more than a handful of musical friends meeting in one another’s apartments to eat, drink, and sing their raucous tunes, the Quire’s monthly appearances at the Parlour, along with periodic performances including at the 2017 Providence Folk Festival, have earned it a stable presence in the Rhode Island folk community.
According to Webb, who sings alongside her daughter Flannery Brown, any night may include a wide variety of songs, including “roots songs, shanties, work songs, murder ballads, hanging songs, and the occasional song with a happy ending!”
“I don’t know if it’s serious or fun. It is seriously fun,” says Brown.
Admittedly old-fashioned, the Quire harkens back to a time when friends gathered just to sing together – emphasizing the joy of the experience above the technical quality of the music. If that sounds like you, as the Quahog Quire says, “Quit your Quischen and Quire with us!” The Quahog Quire performs at the Parlour the first Mondays of the month, including February 5, 7–9pm.