Kevin Moquin and the Bad Ideas: not such a bad idea!

Kevin Moquin plays electric guitar the same way that he dresses—in homage to another time.
The Concordia student and Virginia native performed his original compositions with Mat Lobraico on upright bass and Brandon Goodwin on drums under the band name Kevin Moquin and the Bad Ideas at Cagibi on Jan. 22.
Moquin’s freshly-pressed suit, black thick-rimmed specs, polite stage banter and the twang of his guitar echoed a rockabilly country western star of the 1950s. As the sound pouring out of the speakers amplified and the guitar playing got angrier, the Bad Ideas no longer seemed agreeable enough to be simply branded “country.”
Moquin’s arrangements reflect his punk rock youth, classical jazz studies, and a growing penchant for old-fashioned country rock.
Local music fiends may recognize Moquin as the guitar player for The Jimmyriggers. He has toured with the band through Ontario and the Maritimes, on top of opening for CCR and well known Québécois musician Michel Pagliaro last year. He also plays steel guitar for the Custom Outfit, a Montreal punk-bluegrass-country band.
“I started right off in the country scene when I moved here over two years ago,” said Moquin, “but it just got bigger when I started playing with other bands.”
Growing up just outside Washington, D.C., Moquin claims having almost no exposure to country. His father played guitar and bass around the house, but Moquin didn’t pick up the guitar until he broke his leg skateboarding.
“The only thing I had to do was play guitar, so that was when I first got into it, and progressively got more serious about it,” he said.
He played in punk rock bands throughout high school, studied guitar privately after graduation, and was eventually hired as a full-time guitar instructor for three years at the same school he once took lessons at.
It wasn’t until he heard the 2006 self-titled release by The Little Willies, an alternative country band featuring Norah Jones on vocals and piano and Jim Campilongo on guitar, that his music taste changed.
“Their record changed my life and my view of country,” he admitted. “It was just so country, but in a different direction. It wasn’t from the pop side, but instead very sophisticated, and at the same time very gutsy and bluesy. I didn’t know what Campilongo played was possible, it showed me how musical the guitar can be.”
Moquin is confident that the original defining elements of rock ’n’ roll—country western and rhythm and blues—are making their way back into popular music.
“To me, the older style of country, or underground country, is becoming the new style of rock ’n’ roll. It’s what people are turning towards to try and escape,” Moquin explained. “I feel like the definition of mainstream rock ’n’ roll is changing.”
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