A couple of years ago I launched a series of live soul revue parties with my band at the Verdi Club. I convinced Quinn DeVeaux, an underground crooner with quite the fan club, to sing at these events. He’s brought the house down every time.
For these gigs, a series of dances where dressing up is the thing to do, I asked Quinn and the band to do covers of ’60s soul tunes like “That’s How Strong My Love Is” and the upbeat Motown hit “Twenty-Five Miles.” The last time he took the mic at our Winter Formal, his rendition of that Otis Redding ballad caused eyes to get misty on the dance floor.
After watching his star power grow at our shows, I wanted to catch Quinn at his regular night, a monthly gig with his band, The Blue Beat Revue, at Club Deluxe in the Upper Haight. He sings originals there along with the classic tunes that he digs the most on the first Friday of the month.
I stepped out of the taxi, paid the doorman, and went through the art deco doorway of Club Deluxe. It was still 20 minutes before the downbeat and the place was so packed there was barely room to order a drink. People of all ages were having a lively time, crammed around tables or patiently crowded at the bar queued up for one of Deluxe’s classic fresh-squeezed citrus cocktails.
Quinn and his four-piece band (piano, upright bass, drums, and electric guitar) slowly made their way to the stage to play the first of their three sets, greeting friends and regulars along the way. They performed many well-crafted tunes with Quinn smoothly crooning above them all. The joyous sounds of Chuck Berry’s rollin’ “Sweet Little 16” and the gospel vibe of “Come and Go” mixed well with his original numbers. All the tunes had a laid-back, grooving Carolina beach sound, the kind that makes you want to slide your feet around a hardwood dance floor.
By the time I’d downed a couple gin cocktails, the entire club was into the act. Later, when I asked Quinn how such a small place had such good energy, he chalked it up to the owner, Jay, who he says is “tough but cool.” Quinn tells me that Jay has run Deluxe for a long time, and I get the sense that he’s one of those blue-blooded San Franciscans that make me love this town.
After living in San Francisco for the past 10 years, Quinn seems on his way to becoming one of those local staples. He grew up in Indiana, an hour or so outside of Chicago, where he and his sister sang harmony along to television commercial jingles. He remembers when he learned a barbershop-style TV spot for Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo as sung by cartoon animals. While in school at Evergreen State College in Washington, Quinn started performing original material informed by the likes of Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson. He was, and still is, deeply passionate about the soulful sounds of the Mississippi blues.
When he moved to San Francisco, Quinn put together a blues band made up of people he met on Craigslist. After a couple of years gigging with various groups, he formed a crew called The Blue Roots and started singing soul music for the first time. He says making people dance became “really addictive.”
As the last of The Blue Beat Revue’s three sets began, three singers, AhSha-Ti Nu, Latreice, and J. Mélanie, joined Quinn with the most incredible harmonies, smiles, and stage presence. The combo really lit up the room with a stellar rendition of Sam Cooke’s “Good News,” one of my favorite Myrtle Beach jams. With the three ladies swaying to the music, Quinn’s soulful delivery, and the band full of talented players, the final hour passed by far too smoothly. At the end of the night, I stumbled back out onto Haight Street feeling pretty smooth myself. I was ready to dance a little longer.
I’ll be backing Quinn for most of the night at the Spring Fling, our next Verdi Club soul review party on March 24. I’m thinking I should try and get someone to sit in on bass for a song while Quinn does his thing, just so I can cut a little rug.
Catch Quinn at the Spring Fling on Saturday, March 24, 8 p.m. Tickets are here. You can find Quinn DeVeaux and The Blue Beat Review the first Friday of the month at Club Deluxe.