Complete this sentence:
“When I was 14, I _______________ .”
Whatever you filled in, we’re sure it wasn’t:
- “… performed at Madison Square Garden.”
- “… toured with Buddy Guy.”
- “… appeared on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.“
Quinn Sullivan can answer ALL OF THE ABOVE.
At least, he will after Aug. 26, 2013, when he appears on Leno.
Judging by Saturday’s autograph line at Quinn’s CD table (he still may be signing, for all we know), we’d say this gifted guitar player from New Bedford, Mass., was the hit of the Third Annual Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival.
It was amazing–one of Quinn’s favorite words–to see women of all ages grow tongue-tied around this polite, clean-cut young man. Which probably explains why so many polite, clean-cut young men pick up the guitar and not the tuba.
So let’s dispense with the all-important girlfriend question first.
“No, not at the moment, not at the moment,” replied the rising ninth-grader, inside the Morristown Green “green room,” a tent beside the stage.
(The autograph line just got longer.)
As he chowed down on lukewarm veal parm, Quinn cheerfully shared the musical contents of his iPhone–vintage rock from the Dead, George Harrison, Neil Young and the like, mixed with John Mayer and newer stuff.
And then he swiped through his snapshots: Quinn with Eric (Clapton), Quinn with Jimmy (Fallon), Quinn with Richard (Gere).
No boasting; he seemed as bemused by the whole thing as his inquisitor was.
“It’s very fun; I’m having a blast every day,” Quinn acknowledged. “I think this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.”
While Quinn is learning the ropes under the tutelage of legendary bluesman Buddy Guy, Terry Sullivan, Quinn’s dad, is getting a crash course in the music biz, serving as manager and protector for his son.
Terry has taken a leave of absence from his job with a soft drink company to shepherd Quinn on the journey that began six years ago, at a concert where he arranged a backstage meeting with his son and Buddy.
By that time the precocious youth already had showed off his guitar chops on Boston TV shows, and then on Ellen.
Now the itinerary includes 50 to 60 gigs a year, by Quinn’s count.
The really surprising part on Saturday was how well Quinn sang. He appeared genuinely pleased by that compliment; he said he has been taking lots of voice lessons, and enjoys singing and guitar-playing about the same.
Quinn has met Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Stones, among other rock icons. Next, he said, he aspires to play with Clapton, Mayer and Derek Trucks.
Saturday’s set included a tune about meeting Buddy Guy, a number actually penned by Buddy and Tom Hambridge, Quinn’s drummer and producer of his newly released second album, Getting There. Quinn co-wrote some of the songs on the CD and aims to keep honing that part of his game.
In the meantime, Buddy coaches Quinn to “stay grounded.”
He’s taken the advice to heart, making sure to praise his first-rate band and the venue.
“It was amazing,” he said after his set in Morristown. “The crowd here was really cool. I got a couple of standing ovations. That’s always fun to get.”
What is that like?
“It feels amazing, it’s the best feeling in the world,” he said.
Understandably, his pals from the eighth grade can’t really grasp this.
“I don’t think they fully get what I’m doing,” Quinn said. “They don’t fully get all that goes into it. But they love the fact that I’m doing it.”
We’ll second that.