The humidity peaks in the dark nightclub packed with hundreds of excited, drunk bodies, when New Orleans one-man-band Quintron turns the key on his “Drum Buddy”, lighting it up like a miniature aurora borealis.
One of several esoteric instruments Quintron has invented over the last 20 years,the Drum Buddy begins to spin beside his humming Hammond organ, emitting percussive analog bleeps and bloops.
With a magician’s grace, Q’s long hands manipulate the strange glowing totem, stretching the sawtooth notes. The crowd remains transfixed, focused on the Drum Buddy until the stage lights blast on, unveiling his puppeteer wife Miss Pussycat beside him, shaking her maracas in a hand-sewn, anthropomorphic dress. Quintron’s drum machine beat and the room’s barometric pressure drop simultaneously, and condensation gathers on the floor as dancing erupts.
This is what New Orleans music legends Mr Quintron and Miss Pussycat were born to do.
But their skies darkened in 2013 when, on the verge of a 40-city US tour, Quintron (born Robert Rolston) was diagnosed with stage-four lymphoma. He and Miss Pussycat quietly cancelled their tour, explaining why to as few people as possible.
“To be totally honest,” admits Quintron from his home in New Orleans’s Ninth Ward, “I did another tour after I found out in the window before the chemo started. I brought all my friends to just forget everything. I didn’t give myself time to feel something. We called it the ‘Isle of Denial’ tour,” he says, appropriating the nickname given to the tiny area of New Orleans that didn’t flood in Katrina. “I had to cancel the last night, the Nashville gig, because I felt too sick. Not to sound heroic, but I played until I was about to die.”
The couple would perform just two or three more shows over the next year, including a cameo on David Simon’s HBO Katrina drama, Treme.
Instead of lying in bed during his mandatory downtime, Quintron found solace in the creation of a new invention: the 7ft-tall Weather Warlock, a synthesizer that reads the outside temperature, wind, sunlight and rain, and reinterprets it as droning, oscillating “music”.
“I wanted its sounds to be mostly beautiful,” says Q, who sculpted the sound palette partly for his own therapeutic purposes. “When I first built it, it was screeching horror, white noise static, sharp-edged oscillations. I slowly worked it into what I wanted it to be: harmonious sounds. But I do still have some ugly ones – lightning would be one of those. And sometimes before sunset it emits some atonal surprising things.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE PIECE AT The Guardian…
Or check out the Weather Warlock band at a church in Holy Cross, 9th Ward, New Orleans, LA: