Dennis Quaid has always been a great storyteller. Whether starring in films such as The Right Stuff, Great Balls of Fire, Frequency, The Parent Trap, The Rookie and I Can Only Imagine or writing songs and performing with his band DQ and the Sharks, Quaid has built a successful career communicating with audiences. With the launch of his new podcast, “The Dennissance,” the Texas native is embracing a new forum for sharing stories.
“I have been so busy doing so many different things between acting and movies, television and the music, along with all my other interests in life,” says Quaid, who is also a director, producer, pilot and amateur astronomer, among other things. “Two years ago I got a chance to do a podcast called ‘Bear and a Banjo.’ It was a fictional story of these two characters, Bear and a Banjo, who sort of showed up at every historic American music moment since radio began.”
Quaid became intrigued with podcasts and the idea of doing lengthy, in depth interviews. “I’ve been very interested in doing it because it was a lot of fun and it seems like a brand new way to tell stories,” Quaid tells Sounds Like Nashville in a Zoom interview from his LA home. “Also the music aspect really interests me a lot. ‘Bear and a Banjo’ was the very first podcast to launch a record at the same time, which was a new idea, and it brought up to us the idea of bringing back the concept album like Sgt. Pepper, Redheaded Stranger and Pink Floyd [The Wall]. We all loved those.”
He sees podcasts as having the same ability to share compelling stories in an interesting way. “It’s a new medium sort of like what FM radio was to AM radio back then,” he says. “On AM radio back in the day, you could not have a record playing any longer than two minutes and 40 seconds. On FM stations, along came these concept albums that were a longer play than that and the only stations that would play them were college radio stations, which were FM stations. They were thought of as just basically public space. There were no commercialism to them, but FM really took off because that’s what people wanted. That’s what is happening in the podcast space now.”
To launch his new venture, Quaid has partnered with Audio Up founder/CEO Jared Gutstadt, who he first met when he did “Bear and a Banjo,” and the two began hatching other ideas for unique content. The timing is perfect because—like most everyone else— Quaid has had some downtime during the quarantine. “We’ve actually been able to do it at home remotely and it turns out that you couldn’t have a better time to start a podcast platform because nobody could be on a movie set,” he says, “and it’s about the only thing going in show business right now. So I’ve been keeping myself really busy with that.”
Quaid welcomed Billy Ray Cyrus as his first guest and says he enjoyed “learning his story, how it came about, his interest in music and what he started out to be. Some people go on a mission to really start a career and some people kind of it finds them and then also he’s also a story of second chances and third chances. He had to change and be not afraid to change and make things new again. He had to continue to be relevant and he’s been able to do that.”
The famed performer has also interviewed longtime friend Tanya Tucker. “Tanya was my first leading lady,” he says flashing that signature grin. “I was 24-years-old and the movie was a television movie of the week called ‘Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill.’ Don Johnson was in it. I played the son of this bar owner whose business was going downhill and Tanya is this girl who comes in and wants to audition to sing. She brings business into the place and saves the bar. She was my love interest in it, but we did that movie and I didn’t see her again for 40 years.”
Quaid and Tucker reconnected at the Country Music Hall of Fame. “I was backstage at the Outlaws [exhibit] in Nashville and there she was backstage,” he says. “We just instantly started up the friendship again. It was just amazing after 40 years just being able to connect stronger than ever and we’ve become really, really good friends.”
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He loved seeing Tucker win big at the Grammys earlier this year when she took home awards for Best Country Song and Country Album. “I was so happy for her,” he says. “It was so well deserved. It’s another story of second chances. Those are the first Grammys that she’s ever got in her life. That was really hard to believe. As an artist and as a human being, I just have so much admiration for her. I walk around with a pen and notebook just waiting for the thing to come out of her mouth. It’s a song lyric.”
In addition to actors and recording artists, Quaid plans to interview people from all walks of life for “The Dennissance.” When asked about his dream guest, he cites Bill Clinton. “I spent a weekend in the White House with him. He’s a fascinating person,” Quaid says. “I’d like to have him on and not talk about politics. One of my first questions would be, ‘Are you still a pack rat?’ because one of the little known things about him is he saves actually every little thing that people give him or that he collects, starting with a rock collection back when he was a kid. He just doesn’t like to throw anything out.”
In addition to “The Dennissance,” Quaid has other plans for content via Audio Up. “We’re going to be doing like the old style radio plays that people used to listen to in the ’30s and ’40s with the whole family around,” he says. “We’re going to have a show a show called ‘Scripts From The Drawer.’ There are so many actors I know here in Hollywood and screenwriters that have a script that for one reason or another never got made. Either it was too expensive to shoot or whatever, but they are good scripts and we could do them as podcasts like the old radio shows.
“I’ve got one on Spade Cooley, who was a musician and television star back in the 50’s. Billy Bob Thornton has a script on Floyd Collins, who was a spelunker and the biggest radio story back in the ’20s. So we’re going to be doing that, and we have another show that’s getting ready to launch called ‘Make It Up As We Go with Scarlett Burke,’ about this girl from Amarillo, Texas who goes to Nashville to make it as a songwriter and singer. My fiancé, Laura, and I are working on another show called ‘Testimony,’ which will be about celebrities and also just regular people sharing their testimony in a podcast.”
On top of all of his plans, Quaid is excited about a song he wrote and has recorded with Tucker, Brandi Carlile and Kris Kristofferson titled “On My Way to Heaven.” “It was kind of an add on for the DVD for ‘I Can Only Imagine,’ and I put it on my record that I did with The Sharks,” Quaid says of the original recording of the song, which was inspired by his mother. “Tanya heard it and called me up. She wanted to record it and then she called up Kris Kristofferson and Brandi Carlisle. We’re going to release it in a couple of months. It was like a dream come true for me. I just can’t believe how it happened.”
Quaid’s mother, Juanita, passed away last August. “We recorded that last year and I gave my mom that cut as a birthday present. She absolutely loved it,” he says. “She was 92 when she passed. She lived a really great full life and I really feel blessed that I was able to have her around as long as I did.”
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*go to Apple podcast and check out the episode today! 🙏🙏John Carter Cash is the child of Johnny Cash and June Carter. Dennis and John talk about growing up with wildly successful parents, performing on stage as a child, drug and alcohol addiction, life at "The Cabin", his lineage and love of farming, and life in Nashville during a pandemic. They also talk about John's career as a musician, and as a film director. Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast so you'll never miss and episode and stay tuned for next week's episode of The Dennissance featuring Billy Bush, in his first live interview since that infamous incident from 4 years ago. Billy Bush will be on The Dennissance on April 29, 2020. @johncartercash
Johnny Cash’s son, John Carter Cash, directed the video for “On My Way to Heaven.” “He’s quite a film maker and I really, really like John,” Quaid says. “We just connect in a very deep way, spiritual way. I really feel that his dad was my musical dad because the first songs I learned to play were Johnny Cash songs.”
Though he’s busy with podcast and music projects, Quaid hasn’t abandoned his acting career. “I did a couple of movies, but they haven’t come out yet. One is called ‘Tiger Rising.’ It is from a children’s book, very interesting movie,” he says. “Another one I did is called Casa Hogar. It’s a true story of these eight Mexican orphans who wound up winning—along with this grizzled sea captain that would be me—the biggest fishing tournament in the world. They won a million dollars. They did it all on faith and it was a wonderful true story.”
This month he was supposed to start filming a movie about Ronald Reagan (in which he portrays Reagan) but shooting has been pushed back due to the pandemic.
The pandemic also led to Quaid and his fiancé postponing their wedding. The couple was supposed to be married April 4 at actor Craig T. Nelson’s home in Hawaii. “As soon as all this is over and we’re able to get out,” he says. “We’re thinking more about the middle of the country to do it—maybe Nashville.”