New/Native | Bouncing around with Tim Quine and his ‘Rubber City Review’

Name: Tim Quine
Age: 58
Hometown: Akron
Neighborhood: West Akron (Fairlawn Heights)

I was already a fan of Tim Quine’s Rubber City Review blog when a recent post made me finally pull the trigger on the gotta-meet-this-guy compulsion I get when something feels kismet. In a “RCR Mailbag” follow-up to the response from his “bro country” bashing post, referenced his family ties to Milledgeville, Georgia, about 30 miles from Macon where I was born and raised.

After that, I had to reach out. Among many other things, Tim is half-Southern.

Originally, he was going to be the “Native” side of our “New/Native” profiles but we got to talking about some other stuff so here are some of the jewels he dropped in an email exchange we had while he was out-of-state…



Who do you wish was on more Akronites’ radar?

Given the general condition of our streets, probably snow plows and asphalt trucks.

What is your favorite local cultural asset?

None of them remained local, but I’d say the hugely influential bands and artists we’ve unleashed on the rest of the world: The Black Keys, Devo, Chrissie Hynde, Robert Quine, Lux Interior of The Cramps… And I’m a big fan of a truly local treasure, The Numbers Band. It’s hard to explain The Numbers Band to visitors from out of town, but if you don’t like them, you can’t stay in my house. Beyond that, it’s hard not to love The Akron Art Museum and the Nightlight Cinema. And the Highland Theater… How has that place survived?

When did you fall for Akron?

When I moved to Columbus. Akron has one of the best park systems in the Midwest. Down in Columbus, most of the parks are oversized parking lots with shrubs. And everything is oppressively flat. I really missed Akron when I lived down there.

Where in Akron do you like to escape?

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It’s easily the greatest thing that ever happened to this area. God bless John Seiberling and Ralph Regula. Trust me, without the national park, there would be nothing but half-empty strip malls between Akron and Cleveland. My wife and I escape down there with our dogs just about every weekend. I also like to stop by the Old 97 Cafe on Kenmore Boulevard for a cocktail.

Why should everyone try your favorite local restaurant?

I’ll be honest, I’m not much of a foodie. I won’t go to a restaurant if it doesn’t make me feel perfectly comfortable. I like to sit at the bar at Larry’s Main Entrance, eat a burger and watch the owner, Alan, play along to Jeopardy. If you could beat him, he’d probably hand the entire operation over to you.

How do you think Akron will be different in five years?

There’s a lot of cool stuff going on downtown right now: Blu Jazz, Musica, the Civic Theater, Crave, Bricco, the Art Museum, the Main Library, the Lockview, the Diamond Deli, the northside district… If the biomedical corridor catches on and more people move downtown and we get more hotels and some retail, who knows? Some people thought it was a bad idea to tear down a bunch of old buildings and create a minor-league ballpark in downtown Akron. Now we can’t live without it.

What do you miss most about the Akron you grew up with?

Probably the additional 100,000 people who were here when I was a kid. But I have to say, it’s nice not to have to share all this stuff — roads, parks, cultural attractions, cable service, even water — with a lot more people.

Why start (and keep running) Rubber City Review? It seems like a real investment of time and effort–which I’m grateful you give because it’s fucking good–just to be an outlet for your music “snobbery.”

Thanks Chris. It’s a labor of love, really… and a family affair, given the occasional contributions from my sisters (Keena’s a web wrangler, graphic designer and working musician; Mary’s a trained journalist, former piano teacher and current rock-star mom) and brothers (Jack’s a former math professor and currently plays piano in a swing band; James is a photographer and also plays music regularly). I’ve worked as a professional writer and casual musician all of my adult life. RCR allows me to write about virtually anything that leaps into my somewhat twisted mind. Maybe in the back of my head I’m just preparing myself for retirement.

One of my favorite things about RCR is the balance between your love for the big, wide world of music and the occasional reminders that you are rooted in a very particular (often peculiar) place. Was this intentional when you set out or just the way it evolved?

I never really intended for RCR to be Akron-centric. To use the parlance of shitty cinema, it was really just my way of “paying it forward,” in the sense that I’ve amassed a fairly large music collection over the years and not always through legitimate means. If I turn a few other people on to The “5” Royales or Evan Johns & his H-Bombs or Robert Ward or western swing guitarist Junior Barnard, then I feel a little less guilty about all the file-sharing I did in the Nineties. Recently one of my friends browbeat me into writing more about Akron. I’m glad he did, because my Really Rough Guide to the Rubber City is now one of my most-read posts!

How do you view your place as Dan Auerbach’s “blues-snob” uncle and punk guitarist Robert Quine’s cousin? Are you sandwiched between–or overshadowed by–these two pretty damn good musicians, or is just part of your own pretty damned interesting resume–RCR, the Wanda Hunt Band, journalism career and political speechwriter, etc.?

Damn, you make me sound like Akron’s own Zelig! I think I’m fortunate to have Dan in my life and to have known Robert. I probably lived a little too vicariously through The Black Keys early on, but now I’m perfectly content sitting back like everyone else and watching them from afar. Besides, it’s a lot more rewarding than getting wedged backstage with 100 people who have virtually no connection with the band!

So, I’m hoping you have one more “Bro Country” rant in you… With so much bad music out there, what about this stuff gets under your skin so much? Is it your maternal Southern heritage or just that it’s an affront to good taste?

It’s probably little bit of both. You know, a lot of people up north have a real attitude about southerners and traditional country music. They think both are inherently dumb. That really bothers me, because I spent a lot of time as a kid in Milledgeville GA, and I cut my musical teeth playing bluegrass music. Maybe I’m too defensive about it, but let’s face the facts: Central Georgia gave us Little Richard and Flannery O’Connor, and country music gave us Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, Emmylou Harris and Dwight Yoakam. Unfortunately, bro country seems to validate that elitist prejudice against southerners and country music. It’s like watching the trailer for Furious 7. Stupid is stupid, regardless of the art form or where you live.