Chris began playing banjo in 1978. His dad, Murray Quinn, who has remained a lifelong supporter of Chris' music, got him his first banjo for Christmas. Murray did his best to take Chris out to see live music and meet musicians. "Dad snuck me into a bar once when I was 12 so that I could see a live bluegrass band."
A high school friend named Jimmy Kyle showed Chris a few picking patterns on the banjo and Chris took to it instantly. Spending every spare moment, Chris taught himself to pick.
"I hit every pitfall and plateaued regularly. Apart from Jimmy's few instructions, I had to learn by myself. I didn't know where to begin; no books, no tapes, nobody in the family played music, no other musicians seemed to live where I grew up in rural Quebec. I didn't know how to tune. I didn't know what the fifth string was for. I didn't know how many picks to wear on my fingers. I used to have the banjo on my lap, the album Flatt and Scruggs "Live at Carnegie Hall" on the turntable, and then I would stare at the album cover, looking at tiny photos of Earl Scruggs. I would sit there wondering, 'How is he doing that?!?' Note by note, beat by beat, and many broken strings later; I figured some of it out. Obsession is a great substitute for talent."
In 1984, while attending college near Montreal, Chris began his professional music career. He began playing at Bob Fuller's Hillbilly Night at The Blue Angel on Drummond Street. Bob's no-nonsense, "nothing written after 1965", approach to early country music and bluegrass was a big influence and helped shape Chris's appreciation of the essentials. To name only a few, Bob was responsible for exposing Chris to the music of Reno and Smiley, The Stanley Brothers, Red Rector, Mac Wiseman, and Buzz Busby. "When I went to the weekly show to play, I had to wait my turn to play banjo. There was another fellow who had seniority and he got to play as long as he wanted to. Sometimes, I would have to wait until 2:00AM before I could pick one or two songs! I began learning to play mandolin and acoustic bass just to get some stage time."
In 1988, Chris moved to his current home in Toronto, and quickly found himself on the music scene. Since then, Chris has forged enduring friendships and musical partnerships with: Chris Coole, Dan Whiteley, Jenny Whiteley, Andrew Collins, Max Heineman, John Showman, Joey Wright, The Backstabbers, Kristine Schmitt, Tony Allen, Marc Roy, Sam Petite, Ivan Rosenberg, and many others.
Since 2000, Chris has been the award winning banjo player for The Foggy Hogtown Boys.
He has performed on more than 125 recordings as a side-man or featured artist-including 6 projects with The Foggy Hogtown Boys.
Chris has performed at festivals and concerts all over the U.S. and Canada as well as having toured internationally.
With more than 30 years of experience, he is also a highly acclaimed instructor who is equally comfortable working one on one or with larger groups; Chris has even conducted a banjo workshop in a bomb shelter in the middle east once!
During his career, Chris has performed with Bob Fuller, Ray Condo and His Hard-Rock Goners, One Horse Town, Heartbreak Hill, Jughead, Rick Fielding, The Backstabbers, The Hamstrung Stringband, The Wild Irish Rogues, Stringalong, Luther Wright and the Wrongs, John McEuen, Vassar Clements, Kenny Baker and Josh Graves Jr., and Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys.
Banjo Newsletter has published featured articles on Chris as well as tablature for a few of Chris' original tunes.
Although Chris is best known for his work on banjo, he also plays guitar, mandolin, and acoustic bass.
"...Quinn shows that he has chops to spare!" - Bluegrass Unlimited, July 2003.
"Drive is an essential characteristic of traditional bluegrass banjo playing and Chris Quinn has it in spades. Chris is a rock solid Scruggs style banjo player who throws in melodic constructs as needed and doesn't miss a note along the way. Anyone needing a clinic in rhythm and timing; pay heed." - William H. Montague - Banjo Newsletter July 2003.