A quirky folk group who defy an easy placement in genre, Ed's Redeeming Qualities' instrumentation -- guitar, violin, ukulele, bongos, accordion, cardboard bass, and drum -- suggests folk music and the songs run the gamut of influences from rock, country, calypso, and klezmer. A reviewer described them as the "David Lynch of folk music," which is as apt a description as anyone has come up with. With a penchant for writing simple, affecting melodies with sophisticated wordplay that makes one either laugh out loud, smile, or scratch one's head in confusion (and sometimes all three simultaneously) along with live performances that ran the gamut from brilliant to painful, ERQ amassed a strong cult following, which hasn't subsided with the band's demise.
Founding members Dan Leone, his cousin Dom Leone, and Neno Perotta are from Ohio. The band's genesis began in the mid-'80s at the University of New Hampshire, where Dan met Carrie Bradley, Jonah Winter, and Ray Halliday in the writing program. Dom and Neno eventually relocated to New Hampshire. Amidst this collection of writers, songs were written and informal casual jam sessions -- Dan on the ukulele, Carrie on violin, Neno on percussion, and Dom writing the majority of songs and singing - eventually led to more band-like activities. They began doing shows locally and in Boston at a bar called the Rathskeller, which at the time was featuring an alternative performance space known as "Ed's Basement." The foursome released two cassette demos -- Ed's Redeeming Qualities and Ed's Kitchen -- along with two seven-inch records -- Ed's Day and Safe World Record (although the latter would not be released until 1993).
In the midst of this creative activity, Dom succumbed to cancer in 1989. Shortly after this unfortunate incident, Dan, Carrie, and Neno relocated to San Francisco and continued on with the band. Two tapes, a tribute to Dom called Guess Who This Is, and another demo, Walking The Floor Over You, were produced, and the band landed a contract with the folk label, Flying Fish Records, which released two albums, More Bad Times in 1990 and It's All Good News in 1991. Neno left the band in late 1991 shortly after the tour for Good News was completed, with Jonah Winter replacing him. The band did get some exposure via NPR and Dr. Demento and was making new converts with every tour, but it wasn't enough for Flying Fish to retain them. Still, the band continued performing. A tape demo, Static and Weak Tea, was released in 1993, along with Safe World Record, while Carrie and Dan became members of Ray Halliday's country band, the Buckets, respectively under the names Wanda Taters and Jesse 'Boots' Daniels. Some high profile exposure came in 1994 when the Breeders covered the ERQ song "Drivin' On 9" on their second album, Last Splash, and Carrie joined the band during their tour with Lollapalooza (she had also contributed violin parts to Pod and Last Splash). In 1995, ERQ released Big Grapefruit Cleanup Job on the Slow River Records label, recorded live and featuring a guest appearance by Neno.
In 1996, the band was featured in an independent film, Ed's Next Move, which used several songs and on-screen appearances by the band. Furthermore, their fourth full-length album, At The Fish and Game Club, was released this same year. However, it proved to be their last album. The band amicably disbanded in 1997, with members going off into other areas. Carrie went into session work, a stint in the band Warm Wires, and started her own band, 100 Watt Smile. Dan continued with a food column in one of the weekly alternative press newspapers, has published a collection of those columns, and has an ongoing fiction column. Jonah went back to publishing and has written two children's books, Diego and Play Ball, and a third book titled Once Upon a Time in Chicago: The Story of Benny Goodman, which was published in 2000. The band has regrouped annually in 1998 and 1999 for reunion shows. ~ Robert Hubbard