Madison's music scene lost a leader and a friend when Marques Bovre passed away on Feb. 11. Local artists have been sharing their memories of the singer-songwriter on Facebook and Bovre's website, which is collecting photos and gig posters for a digital memorial. This week, Isthmus gathered memories of Bovre from several members of the local music community.
Musician and creative mastermind, the Gomers, Reptile Palace Orchestra, the Steam Pistols, Yammer, the Zombeatles
I worked with and originally met Marques at the Westgate Mall from about 1979 to 1981-ish. I was at the Ice Cream Pub serving cones and sloppy joes, and he was at the Popcorn Stand, about 300 feet away. It was literally a little stand that looked like a circus wagon, with big, golden spoked wheels. Thinking back, it was hilarious. It wasn't even a proper shop. I think they even had cotton candy. So we'd hang out and were buddies back then. I mean, he was the groovy popcorn guy. Both of us were still high schoolers. I seem to recall he always had a notebook or legal pad and was writing songs and poems or something. We weren't from the same school but both worked these little starter jobs in this cheesy west-side mall. Somehow we connected and stayed so.
So we both went on to do our own music in completely different directions, and we just remained friends. And he got me to play some electric violin with Marques Bovre & the Evil Twins on an album recorded at Smart Studios, and we opened for Jefferson Starship at the Barrymore in 1993. I met Papa John Creech that night, who left the planet just after that, too, and here's the thing: That Marques Bovre & the Evil Twins set was the one that Bill Feeny saw me play that inspired him to give me a cassette of crazy Balkan music and, in so doing, get me to join the Reptile Palace Orchestra. So without Marques, that would never have happened. And I'm truly enriched and blessed from it, and imagine that more people are, too.
Marques was a "wheel," a creative soul whose works benefited others somewhat removed, connected down the road, even without his knowledge. He did that with the Reptiles, and he continues to do it through his library of music. This is the mark of a beautiful soul, one who gave and still gives so much to so many. And what a great sense of humor on him: scathing, hilarious and honest. Marques was special; he was f'ing awesome.
Vocalist, guitarist and flutist, SoDangYang
Marques was a wonderful person to work with. He always had new material ready to work on. If he was tired of a song, or if it wasn't working, he would "scrap it for parts," and parts of it would show up later in other songs. He always had ideas.
As Marques' arthritis worsened over the years, he would rarely complain. When his hands could no longer fret the chords, he would switch to mandolin or baritone guitar, or he would use an alternate tuning. He would just find a way. Giving up was not an option.
I was in awe of Marques' ability to work as a musician despite the physical challenges he had. He was stoic and brave in dealing with pain. He would crawl up inside the music and find a place that was pure joy. It transformed him in a way, and we could feel it, too.
Founder and concert promoter, True Endeavors
The benefit we did at High Noon after his [brain cancer] diagnosis was an amazing night, one I will never forget. Hearing Marques sing those songs reunited with the Evil Twins was an incredibly powerful moment. The room was supercharged with emotion, from utter joy to deep sadness. Through it all, Marques was his humble, good-natured self, cracking jokes, conjuring up laughter amid the tears we were all fighting back. I remember thinking that night about the many songs Marques had written about death, realizing that he was prepared for this, that he was not afraid. I've taken comfort in that these past few weeks, and am at peace knowing he's in a good place.
Art Paul Schlosser
Marques Bovre was a very nice musician friend of mine. I remember when he used to host the open mic at the Memorial Union. He would always let me play first, and one time, when all the slots were filled, he still had me play two songs. When his band won the battle of the bands there, he had me play three songs as the opening act. He really encouraged me and my music.
Marques even had me open for [his band] one time at Club de Wash. And once I was invited to a church where he was doing the music. I was surprised that he even did some nice gospel songs.
As time went on, it was disappointing that Marques never made it as big as he should have, but he really did impact our community. People really enjoyed his music. I hope he is in heaven, for he truly was a very nice guy.
Singer-songwriter and guitarist
Unfortunately, I didn't get to know Marques nearly as well as I wanted to. I first met him at the Crystal Corner. Jim Schwall had invited me out to see SoDangYang, and Marques immediately struck me as one of the most kind and real individuals I'd ever met.
I also remember one time at the High Noon when my band was asked to learn a few of his songs to play at a benefit. The songs were great, I mean really great. Lyrics, melody, arrangements, all great.
And then there was his 50th birthday, again at the High Noon, where we all played and had an absolutely wonderful time. Marques and I talked then about getting together when he felt better to talk songs and maybe write some.
In the few times I was able to hang around with him, I learned that he was one of the best at being a human being I've ever known. Pretty damn good songwriter, too.
Singer, Land of Vandals
My favorite memory is talking with him at my family's Christmas party each year about music. And his smiley face.