Those Damn Quails Rocked Billy Bob's
Those Damn Quails are at it again, performing epic rock and roll shows with their signature melodic magic, plethora of varied instruments and musicians crowding the stage along with frenzied hand gestures and madman facial expressions, and the covey couldn’t be happier.
We all know that the Quails have had their fair share of mishaps since the very beginning, including the tragic lawsuit with their first manager that left them fighting just to use their own band name, to a stabbing among a couple of band members one late night after a show that started over ridiculous banter and ended with a blood soaked ambulance trip and a near death experience. Let’s not forget the night during a show where they lost one of their crew in Texas and had to start a missing person campaign that last several days until they located him several states over. Add in a band breakup, a couple of stints in jail and a good dose of rehab, and one thing is for sure, the Quails are about as rock and roll as it gets out there in the Red Dirt Scene. They are living the lifestyle full force, kicking ass and taking names.
And that’s just what they did earlier this month at the infamous Billy Bob’s in Texas.
“I’m a big fan of the band and so we decided that March 1st would be a good time to get together and celebrate my birthday month. That wasn’t really why I booked the show originally, it was just because I had an opportunity to do it and it made sense, and then all of sudden my wife invited a bunch of friends out and one thing led to another and poof it was a birthday party,” said Billy Bob’s general manager Marty Travis.
The Quail’s brought the entire Quailharmonic show in full force to Texas, with 9 guys on stage that evening; Blake Lennon doling it all out on guitar, keys, mandolin and back-up vocals, Tom Young on drums, Justin Morris on bass and back up vocals, Cody Angel on steel guitar, dobro and guitar, the multi-talented Kevin “Haystack” Foster on fiddle, guitar and back ground vocals, Steve Baker on tenor/baritone sax and concertina, Adam “Biggie” Rittenberry on the harp and back up vocals, Caleb Shirtum on bass guitar and let’s not forget the soulful Gabe Marshall on lead/rhythm guitar and vocals as well as the Red Dirt Success himself Bryon White on lead/rhythm guitar and vocals.
That’s a lot of talented music makers sharing one stage, it’s no wonder they brought the house down that night. Not to mention in honor of the event, the venue served bacon wrapped quail sliders.
“The show was amazing. The band came in excited and focused. Headlining Billy Bob’s main stage is definitely a bucket list for anyone that is a part of this scene. We have played the honky tonk stage a few times, and it was great. But walking into the green room and having it be OUR green room, to see ‘Billy Bob’s welcomes The Damn Quails’ on the sign, and knowing we had earned a spot next to heroes and legends was awesome. Not in the over-used, meaningless way the word is thrown around these days, but truly awesome,” said Gabe Marshall.
That seemed to be the overall consensus of everyone that got to experience that night, from both those lucky enough to get to watch it as well as those lucky enough to get to play it.
“The overall vibe was great, they had 9 guys on stage which was a lot, even for them. They came out and just absolutely destroyed the place. I introduced the show that night and said ‘Bryon and Gabe I ask one favor of you.’ And they said ‘What’s that?’ and I said ‘Will you please go out in the front row and melt everyone’s faces with your rock and roll show?’ and they said ‘We brought 9 guys to help us.’ They were great. We sure had fun with them,” Said Travis.
Travis was celebrating his 50th birthday with many friends and family that night, and he said that not only was the show everything it could and should have been, but it was also the best birthday he could have asked for. There was an electricity in the air, which was felt by all that night.
“It was fucking incredible. It was one of those nights, you know when you go see a reall good show, and the whole crowd is into it, and there’s just something floating around the room? You know, whatever THAT is, it was throughout that whole venue. It was so magical. I know that’s really a clichéd word, but it was just one of those nights where you could hear a pin drop in the crowd until the song was over, they had them just hypnotized. It was so cool,” said Caleb Shirtum who joined the band playing bass that night. “After they finished the first song that place just went fucking crazy, it was a thunderous crowd. It’s like a roar of the crowd, it fucks with your vision almost, it’s just so loud. After that first song, that place just came alive and it didn’t stop for the rest of the night. It was just whatever that feeling is in the air, like when you go to the Blue Door to watch a show, it’s that same feeling. But it was a whole other level of that, almost like a spirit floating around the room. That was the strongest, collective energy and all those people loving the same thing at that same moment, that was just the most strong THAT I have ever felt in my life, I don’t even know what to call it.”
It was one of those nights where the musicians and the audience members shared in this unique experience where everyone was just glad to be where they were and doing what they were doing, and everyone was feeding off of the energy of one another, musicians and audience alike.
“The second we walked on the stage we knew it would be a special night. Lots of friends and family, and a whole lot of soon-to-be friends, immediately embraced our motley crew of musical maniacs and stayed right there with us. Just hands up on the roller coaster, all night. Having 1,500 plus soul song sisters and brothers encore us at a true musical Mecca is something we won’t ever forget. We did our best to say thank you by inviting everyone back to the green room after the show for pictures and an impromptu meet and greet. Staff thought we were crazy, but how do you thank someone for not just a career, but a life highlight? The least we could do was give them a chance to experience what it’s like to spend a few minutes on hallowed ground,” said Marshall.
The band played for two solid hours, giving the crowd that crazy, manic ride of unique music adventures that only the Quails could provide.
“The crowd at Billy Bob’s was absolutely a great crowd, overly supportive. I think the turnout well exceeded anyone’s expectations. We had a conglomerate of Oklahoman friends and family come down too which made this evening really special,” Said Blake Lennon. “The highlight of this show for me was meeting Cody Angel in the music. Cody and I have crossed paths before, but have never really played a show together. In years past, if I wasn’t on the road with the Quails, Cody would fill in on some gigs around Texas. Believe it or not, the Quails have never held a rehearsal for anything and this was my first show to play with Cody. So it was great to play with another one of the covey. Personally, one of my greatest pleasures in life is “meeting people on stage.” Sometimes at various gigs this happens without ever having seen or spoken a word to another performer. All of a sudden you find yourself onstage together and the music starts. And you literally meet in the music and pour out these expressions. You share. It’s a blending of souls and I’ve found it’s a big reason why I play music.....And aside from all that, on his first opportunity Cody immediately tore up a nasty steel solo,like the second song into the show, where he had this huge slide that screamed up two octaves. It was powerful and totally set the tone to the show. You just never know who’s going to show up at a Damn Quails show. Myself included.”
You can actually personally see a dozen Quails shows, and you’ll never see the same show twice. Not only do they always have a revolving plethora of fantastic musicians, but these guys know how to work with the energy of the crowd that’s right in front of them, and create something magical just out of the air, something they can’t always recreate even when they try.
“I’ve been to thousands of shows and that one was one of the most memorable ones I’ve ever had. I rode down with Bryon and he was like “I wonder if anyone is going to show up” and even an hour before the show I took a walk around Billy Bob’s and there really wasn’t that many people there but then after that first song there was almost a thousand people out there losing their shit,” Said Shirtum. “The green room after the show reminded me of being in the locker room after winning a state championship football game, that same feeling, I hadn’t even thought or felt that feeling in forever and I walked into the green room after the show and everyone was yelling and high fiving and chugging beer, it was just like a high school locker room after winning the state championship. I’m glad I got to be a part of it and see all of that because it was really cool.
I’m sure it won’t be the last time these guys take the stage of Billy Bob’s, sounds to me like they are already making plans of having those red dirt rock and rollers back again.
“I was a big fan of them years ago when they first came out, their first album was so dynamic and unique and just a great album. Then when they took a little time off, I was saddened and then when they got back on the stage, I thought ‘Man I gotta get that show,’ And it kind of fell into our laps and we were super excited to have it and we were super excited that they did exactly what we wanted them to do. I can’t wait to see about finding time to get them on my books again,” said Travis.
The Quails have also started a little homecoming of sorts, playing the Monday Night Deli shows for the last month, coming back to where it all began for them.
“The following Monday after Billy Bob’s, we reconvened for the first of a month of Monday’s at the place where it all started. The Deli. 309 White Street in Norman Oklahoma. To a man, we were all still riding the high of the Friday before. Going from the world’s largest honky tonk to a smoky hole in the wall could have been a let down, but the joy and excitement were still there like the old days. I’m getting excited all over again to make music with my brothers on the stage Bob Moore built. Home field forever,” said Gabe.
If you haven’t had a chance to see these boys do their thing lately, don’t worry, you still have some chances coming up. The Quails are picking up some steam coming off of the BB’s show, with several shows on the books, including Larry Joe Taylor’s Texas Music Fest at Melody Mountain Ranch in Stephenville, Texas in April. So check their social media and the website for dates near you.
“Also, keep your ears on. Bryon and I have discussed getting back in the studio together, and the consensus is it’s something we would both like to do sooner rather than later,” said Marshall.
In fact there’s been some tweets lately showing B.White has been working on a solo album as well, which will no doubt be phenomenal. White is one of the most prolific song writers around, he’s got a way with words and a talent for weaving stories dripping full of metaphors, hidden meanings and lyrical genius. I’m looking forward to hearing it.
“To fans and friends and family, we would like to say thank you. It’s been a crazy decade making music for us all. There have been some great times and some messed up shit go down, both self-inflicted and beyond our control, but Friday, March 1st, we all showed up and you proved to us that there is still a place and time for our brand of insanity. Fortunately, it’s here, there and everywhere, and thankful, now. All our love to all of you,” said Marshall.