Nor do members worry that lighthearted lyrics will compromise their success. "I don't think I'd mind if we got typecast as a funny band," says Woods.
Neither does King. "I don't worry about humor trivializing my music," he says. When asked whether the humor carries an agenda, King's response is "the only agenda to the humor is to get people to lighten up and have a good time."
That's not to say, however, that Quinn and the boys merely yuck it up. Two notable deviations from the comical include Quinn's earnest "I Don't Believe in Angels," about the loss of a close friend, and King's tender lullaby to his daughter (don't be dissuaded by the title), "Daddy's in a Honky Tonk Downtown."
Serious, too, is the band's musicianship. Not only are Quinn, Woods and King capable of seemingly effortless harmony, but every member is an accomplished instrumentalist. Drummer Elliot has shared the stage with Danny Gatton and is the only full-time musician in the group. Martin bent steel in the Cold Steel Benders before playing in HTC. Quinn notes that "It's really hard to find a great steel guitar player, let alone in Washington, D.C.," but she feels she's found one in Martin.
King moved from clarinet to harmonica to guitar and "finally picked up the bass fiddle" during his senior year of high school. Stints in bluegrass bands in college and over a decade in country rock bands followed. "Then," says King, "I needed a real job and couldn't get one, so I went to library school at University of Maryland."
Woods says, "My family was kind of musical," and "I insisted on getting myself some guitar lessons." His musical influences progressed from the Beatles and Stones to Led Zeppelin and Grand Funk Railroad and eventually to bluegrass. Then the dark days came. "I went directly from playing bluegrass to playing Top 40 in a motel band," he says. "We were a remarkably unsuccessful band," he is almost happy to admit; the reason, he explains, is that they wouldn't play enough disco.
Quinn, whose relationship with Woods extends beyond the musical stage, remarks that he "can just about play anything" and do it tastefully. "That's why I chose him for my group and my boyfriend," she adds.
For her own part, Quinn has been immersed in music since her crackers-and-juice days: "It all started when I was six and my father (who played banjo) told me I was going to take guitar lessons," she says. Her instructor, Sophocles Papas, was in fact acquainted with none other than Andrˇs Segovia. Quinn says that she had the opportunity to attend a master class taught by Segovia, but decided to be "the generalist" instead. Her interests turned to Medieval music and the lute in high school, and by college she was in a bluegrass group that called themselves the "Rocky Mountain Oyster Shit Kickin' Band."
Out of college, during "the very beginning of the punk movement," Quinn founded the punk/new wave band Tru Fax, which still performs, but "only occasionally," she says. As if all their musical experience weren't varied enough, members of HTC also hold distinct, atypical day jobs for musicians. Martin is a master diesel mechanic. King, described as "the world's loudest librarian" by his bandmates, is, he explains, "the boss of a small information center at EPA headquarters." Quinn says Woods is "an out-of-work computer programmer," but he prefers the term "consultant."
Quinn herself is a writer and producer at the Washington bureau of CBS news. Asked whether or not she appears on TV, her answer is "Well, the back of my head might." She says that she's "yelled more questions" at political figures than she'd care to remember. Quinn's father was a correspondent for NBC news for over 20 years, and, after hearing stories about his work, Quinn decided that his would be "a really cool job."
"I've been in the business since '79," she says; she began at NBC radio. Since she's been in bands all the time she's been in broadcasting, Quinn says, "I really had to keep a dual personality." Because of her work, she adds, "I've never been able to dye my hair the color pink I'd like." Juggling a demanding job, three bands, and a musician boyfriend can't be easy, and Quinn admits that certain domestic sacrifices must be made: "You should come over and see what my house looks like."