I recently learned that songwriter/musician, Marques Bovre, passed away after a two year battle with brain cancer. Marques lead the great Madison-based band Marques Bovre and the Evil Twins. Although the band’s popularity peaked in the early 90’s, they continued off and on to the end of that decade and in 2012 re-united for a memorable celebration of Marques' 50th birthday at the High Noon Saloon in Madison. Tonight, I’m thinking about him and I thought I’d share some memories.
Smart Studios, Madison…sometime in the early 90’s. I’m playing pedal steel on a remarkable composition Marques has written for the Evil Twins latest album - Ghost Stories from Lonesome County. The track is called called Sleepytown. I can still picture Marques at that session. He is seated at the recording consul, next to album producer Doug Erickson (Doug is a singer/songwriter/producer and a member the band, Garbage) and I’m behind both of them seated at my pedal steel. We are all only about 4 feet apart in the 1st floor control room. Marques has a big smile on face and we are conversing about both of us growing up in small towns in Dane County (while I run through the song). He is truly enjoying this part of the process. So informal, so easy (it’s always easy when the band is good). We are not quite done laying down the track and his mind is already on the next song, one called Drunk and Disgusting. “Grab your accordion and play like an old drunk Norwegian farmer on a Saturday night.” Pause. I answer, “Am I a Norwegian farmer from Deerfield, Edgerton …..or Stoughton?” He replies quickly, “Ahh, the golden triangle. Let’s go with Utica.” Brilliant answer. He always had a brilliant answer to any important questions. It would shortly result in many long conversations and even longer phone calls (at the time he lived in Stoughton and then Cottage Grove) filled with esoteric conversation on every subject imaginable during that decade. It was a fun time and the peak of Marques and his band’s popularity as a live act. The boys let me play with them at Summerfest that summer(of the recording) and, for awhile, it seemed like the band would break out of Madison (where they were huge and very much loved) and onto the national scene. I lost touch with Marques for awhile in the early 2000's and last saw him at the Wisconsin Film Festival in 2007. By then, the osteoarthritis that had plagued him for most of his life had taken an enormous toll on his body. He never complained of the pain or difficulty it caused and he was as wry, observant and serene as ever. He was a devoted Christian who found it very funny that I couldn’t stand Christians. I never told him that he was one of only three real authentic Christians I’ve ever met in my life – the others being a Jesuit in the Philippines and a filmmaker in Oregon, all nonjudgemental and with great senses of humor. I’ve kept a quote that Marques enjoyed (from one of our 90’s phone calls). It’s from Thomas Merton and I think it describes the way Marques approached his faith. “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.” Marques walked the walk.
PS Marques was a big, big Packer fan. Amen.
To sample both Sleepytown and Drunk and Disgusting or buy the album…..click here.
In honor of Marques, his family is asking that people make a donation to Haiti Allies (www.haitiallies.org) …..It’s an excellent cause and I urge you to give. I did. Don't let me down you cheap bastards!