Ted Quinn, having been exposed to '60's pop and counter culture, began writing poetry at a very early age, seriously jeopardizing his future in TV. As a boy, Tony Mason discovered an old cassette player which had been tossed in a dumpster only to discover the magic of Crosby, Stills and Nash singing 'Wooden Ships.'

The two met while Quinn and Fred Drake were performing with Robert Allan as Ministry of Fools. Some years later, Drake and Quinn were day-tripping in Joshua Tree, when they ran into Mason and his partner, Debbie Hotchkiss. Fred was the first to move permanently away from Hollywood to the desert, with Tony and Debbie soon to follow. Fred started the studio and a band (earthlings?). Ted met Elia while each was in Joshua Tree to record. (Quinn was recording songs for what would become 'Canvas.')

When the guitar player with whom Quinn was working had to drop out of the project, Drake enlisted Mason to take over. Some months later, Quinn and Arce moved from Echo Park to the nice green house.

postcards from joshua tree

One day in November of 1996, Mason was recording Arce, accompanied by Garcia, Native American flute player Rey Ortega, artist Adriene Jenik, Quinn and Rustle Moore. Garcia suggested the name 'Dig Your Own Cactus' after a road sign on Highway 62. Soon, the loose-knit group of friends had recorded over an hour of music, including Arce's spoken-word pieces and Spanish folk songs played on guitar by Garcia, songs that Quinn and Garcia had written, recorded with Fred, a couple that Quinn had written alone, some that Mason and Quinn wrote together. This first batch of songs was called 'Postcards from Joshua Tree,' from Masons' idea. Quinn shot a series of photos to accompany the songs, instead of printing the lyrics.

Neighbors Mark Olsen and Victoria Williams invited Quinn and Mason (Arce, Garcia, Drake, et al, were busy with other projects) to open for their Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers at McCabes Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. While Mark and Vic continued touring, Quinn and Mason recorded Dig Your Own Cactus 'Two' at the Creekdippers home studio, Chaparral Bottoms.


'Two' features Mason and Quinn on all the instruments and vocals, with personal ballads such as '(If I had) A Boat to Row' and 'Inexperience', short story-songs like 'Easy Way Out,' 'A Face in The Crowd' (about the accused bomber of a womens' clinic and a lesbian bar, who claimed membership in the so-called 'Army of God') and 'Carla Faye' (about a woman whose execution in Texas was approved by then-Governor George W. Bush.) Also included on 'Two' is the prayer-poem, 'You Never Stray From Your Path,' the lullabye, 'Don't Be Afraid of the Dark' and the scratchy cowboy song, 'May You Ride,' written for Fred.


'Paintbox' is a five CD collection which includes Ministry of Fools 'Color While You Dream' (circa 1990) by Ted Quinn, Fred Drake and Robert Allan, Ted Quinn and Friends Obviously 'Canvas' (recorded from the early to mid-90's by Billy Bizeau and Fred Drake and featuring Joe, Billy, Tony, Fred and Victoria), 'Postcards,' 'Two' and 'Design.'


The title is inspired by the Robert Frost poem and the cover paintings by Quinn are inspired by the pop art of Andy Warhol, using counter-culture products like American Spirit, Dr. Bronner's Soap, Nag Champa Incense and Tom's Toothpaste as its' models.

Fred Drake 1958-2002

On June 20, we lost our colleague, our collaborator and our best friend. His loving spirit, his sense of humor and his brilliant music will inspire us always. We miss you, Fred.