Gigs galore, an evening with Grady Cross, and testing the weight limit at the Deli

In case you haven't noticed, we over here at the Quail camp have been steadily filling up dates on the old calendar in preparation for the release of Down the Hatch, our new record on Mike McClure and Chance Sparkman's new joint venture 598 Recordings.  14 tracks of original TDQ material with some of the best players in Oklahoma and beyond, co-produced by Mac and the magic man himself, Mr. Joe Hardy.

Or Dobro Joe as we like to call him.

Dobro Joe has worked with more people than I care to mention (okay, I'll mention some.  ZZ Top, Steve Earle, the Replacements, etc) and is a pretty unique dude to say the least.  His facebook photo looks like he got real drunk at a Mexican restaurant on his birthday and was subsequently blinded by an extra-sizzlin' fajita platter.  Photogenically speaking, not so great.  Musically speaking, dude is a powerhouse of mammoth proportions and every bit as tasty as his impressive resume implies...or, more appropriately, shouts from the rooftops.  It's really, really, really damn good.

Speaking of good, we had our first official full band gig at Grady Cross' new joint, Grady's 66 Pub in Yukon.  The first thing that hit me was the similarity in feel to the old Tumbleweed in Stillwater: A little dark, lots of neon (mostly provided by fellow red dirties, including McClure...his is obviously the biggest by a country mile or 4) and cheap beer that flows like...well, like cheap beer.  We had a chance to pow wow with Grady in his studio/jam room/personal wet bar before the gig and had an awesome time hanging with him.  A nicer guy you're not likely to come across (get it?), and the most glaringly cool part of the whole thing was his attention to the needs of we humble performing folk.  We wanted for nothing the whole night, except for an occasional bucket that we blew through like they were going out of style...and that's our own damn fault.  About midway through the night, Grady graced us with the traditional Grady's 66 band beverage; an ice cold bottle of Boones Farm Wild Cherry.  It was passed, emptied, and the rocking continued well into the night.  Unlike most crowds at many of the bars that dot the Oklahoma landscape, the folks at Grady's were polite, attentive, and actually paid attention to the songs as opposed to drunkenly stumbling around and screaming at the top of their lungs.  Cool deal.

Meanwhile, things in Norman are effing great.

Monday Night Madness has progressively become a living, breathing thing of a concert.  While the majority of other spots on Campus Corner are peppered with a few loyal patrons on Monday night, the Deli is an explosive hub of players, friends, college kids, and the ever faithful regulars that make it such an amazing show for us each and every week.  We've added the acoustic guitar stylings of Mr. Blake Lennon to the insanity, which puts us at a steady 9 players on stage throughout the night, and an occasional guest appearance by any number of local yokels.  Last night, Mr. Alan Orebaugh sat in for a few tunes on baritone and pedal steel (his first time, though you couldn't tell it) and we had Nooch up for a rendition of an old Mama Sweet tune that we all love so damn much.  Ryan Engleman continues to astound on the pedal steel/baritone duties and it's a pleasure to get to jam with such a nice guy and phenomenal picker once a week.  Needless to say, if you haven't had a chance to witness the insane circus that is the Deli on a Monday, you probably should while you can still get in the doors.  It's not quite Hosty packed as of yet, which means you can still move around comfortably and sometimes find a chair, but it's getting there.  It's always an ethereal connection that happens on stage, but this gig brings out the creativity and the passion in a special way.  I think it's because it's just a bunch of really good players getting together to play some really good music.  Simple formula, but effective.

Keep an eye out on this here blog and the facebook page as there's lots of stuff happening and you don't want to get left out of the loop...do you?  I'm also getting ready to start a little weekly band member profile for each of our members, so keep an eye peeled.  August 12th is our very first show at the infamous Wormy Dog in OKC, opening up for Mike McClure.  COME SEE US!



Once again, for the eleventh year running, I managed to make it down to Okemah for the annual Woody Guthrie Free Folk Festival.  I've been sweating my way though this festival for over a decade now, and it has always been a communion of some of my favorite musicians and non-musicians from across the country.  I have friends that I get to see only so often, and it's usually during this festival that we can be in the same physical space as opposed to chatting via email, phone, text message, or telepathic thought.  I generally end up watching a movie with Ellis Paul, discussing the merits and pitfalls of being a professional songwriter and making fun of Sean Penn in the process while Don Con makes fun of Ellis for watching a Sean Penn movie.  Then there's the occasional run in with David Amram and his tiny necklace drums, whistles, recorders, flutes, pan pipes, and whatever else he found along the way.   One year, he rehashed some pretty amazing Kerouac stories from the beat days while we passed a doobie and reveled in the cosmic absurdity of it all.  I love everything about this festival..

Except the heat.

And it was definitely hot this year.  So hot, in fact, that the usual walking a few blocks downtown to the different venues was almost impossible without passing out.  Not that the heat is new or anything, but we've had so much of it this year and with such an intensity that it seemed more unbearable than in any years previous.   Which begs the question that Woodyfest goers have been asking for years.

Why don't they move the festival to a cooler time of year?

The obvious answer is that they should.  But they won't.  Because it's Woody's birthday in the hottest part of July.

Now, if there's one thing Woody Guthrie wanted, it was comfort and reasonable conditions for the working man.  This would logically extend to the working musician as well, and comfort was about the farthest thing from anything that anyone at the festival felt this year.  The Guthrie family themselves have been reported as saying that they have no qualms about moving the festival, but there are some folks that just won't have it.  I would beseech anyone with any pull to start thinking about how many more people would come to a festival that was a pleasant 78 degrees through the week as opposed to the rigorously uncomfortable 107 degrees that the mercury hit last week.  Uggggghhhh...still sweating just thinking about it.

Nevertheless, it was great to see my friends again, even though we were all sweaty and smelled pretty ripe by the end of the week.  The fun continues tonight at the Deli in Norman with my homie from Taos, Mr. Don Conoscenti, sitting in with the Damn Quails Philharmonic tonight at 10:30pm.  See you at the show...


Garage Rant No. 1 -

So far, the ratio of interesting things to non-interesting things that I have to say at present is 0-400.  If you're a gambling man, bet on the fact that nothing in this particular post will be of any interest to you whatsoever.

I once purchased two donuts, a yoohoo, a bag of cool ranch doritos, a diet coke, a regular coke, 4 microwave barbecue sandwiches, 2 packs of camels, a pair of sunglasses, and ribbed condoms from the Circle K at Walker and 23rd Street in Oklahoma City.  Whilst the cashier was ringing up my massive, stoner purchase, I asked if he "considered me portly".  His response?  Not good enough to remember.  Probably a shrug.  Or a "heh". 

I warned you.

It feels like some guy took a pair of fancy pliers and yanked out my tooth.  It also felt like it took far too long to yank the bastard out.  I didn't mind much what with the nitrus and all, but it still was less than comfortable.  Once we were all finished and I was breathing oxygen again, they gave me my perscriptions, told me what to do, and warned me that I should probably take the pain medication before the novacaine wore off.  They were effing correct.  If the crazy wind sheer storm hadn't knocked out power to the Wallgreens for several hours yesterday, I would have been able to do that.  As it was, all prescriptions were 3 hours behind schedule, and I was beginning to hurt.

Let me explain the Bryon White definition of 'hurt'.  I've had 3 knee surgeries, none of which were anything less than severely painful, at least during the first week post operation.  What I felt when the numbing agent wore off of my jaw was a pain that was previously unknown to me.  Like some tiny fairy was taking a serrated blade and running it back and forth between my jaw and the gaping hole where my terribly infected tooth used to be.  All I could do was kick.  And scream.  And cry.  Until the damn Walgreens finally got my prescriptions.  At some point, I passed out from the pain, but it didn't last long.  After the meds kicked in, I ended up sleeping most of the day and all of the night, which has thrown my sleep schedule for a loop anyway.

So I catch on the old Facebook that my buddies Rick Reiley and Tim Bays are going to be on the local am radio station in Cushing, Oklahoma at 8:30am. I immediately begin to scramble to make the mms feed work, which required downloading of Flip4Mac to be somewhat compatible with my Quicktime.  I proceeded to spend a few hours listening to my friends and harassing them on the internet.  It was a quite entertaining morning to say the least, and I got to hear my favorite new Rick Reiley tune, "Tiny Worlds".  At least that's what I think it's called.  Might be "Little Worlds'.  Doesn't matter.  It's too good for a title.  Love it, love Rick, love the fact that he writes more songs before breakfast than I usually do in a month.  And they're good. 

Garage Rant #1 Over.  Red Leader Out. 


Wacky's 100 Rules for Success

1.  Rooster/Chickens/Geese/Turkeys
2. Word Play
3. The fine art of eating the "sandwich"
4. Weapons
4. Gary Wayne
5. Anything Tom Skinner says
6. Anything Tom Skinner does
9.  No Double Do Do's
12. Costumes and Props
27. Word Play
27. Charge $100 for cover song requests
40. Hunker down in the back of the van
61.  Just play chords there
100.  Skip numbers

Bizarro Weekend

Our real weekend started off sanely enough...or at least what passes for sane in our world at times.  We opened for Vertical Horizon, and I am happy to say that they single-handedly thwarted the stigma that so many national bands tend to proliferate.  They were extremely cordial, mucho professional, and honestly grateful for the opportunity to come to a town they'd probably never heard of and play their music.  Plus they rocked balls.  Killer harmony singing was abundant throughout the set.  Our set wasn't too shabby either, as we had the core of the philharmonic group in attendance.  It's nigh impossible to have a bad show with that many killer musicians on stage.

But it worked for The Band.

Saturday was a much welcomed night off, and it was spent relaxing.  Then, we began our bizarro weekend (Sunday/Monday) with an evening at Grady Cross's new place in Yukon.  It was a lot bigger than I expected, and it was packed full on fans that were donating money at the door, buying fund raising items for ridiculously (and thankfully) inflated prices that all went to helping out the Okies that got hammered by the recent run of twisters.  They raised over $15,000 bucks in one day.  Props to EVERYONE involved, as there were many volunteers and unsung heroes that made that thing work, not to mention all the time and merch donated by the performers.  Speakin' of them...

We messed up our time table and didn't get there in time for Camille, Aron, and Al's set.  Which was extremely disappointing, but not altogether surprising as we're always running a little behind.  However,  I'm more than certain that it was a phenomenal display of rock and roll excellence.  Stoney and Mac were the main event, and they plowed through acoustic renditions of some of everyone's favorite tunes, plus a few of the ones they wanted to play.  They were kind enough to let Gabe and I pick 4 or 5 tunes and even sat in on a killer rendition of "Graceful Swan Dive", then new McClure/Marshall/White co-write.  Say that 3 times fast. 

We also got to meet and hang with Kim Brian, our new resident DQ photographer from Fort Worth.  She has a really good eye and interesting ideas to keep us from looking like terribly non-photogenic ass clowns...which is something that comes pretty natural to us.  I dig her style, not to mention she's a true fan of music, specifically good music.  Looking forward to getting some of the pics back.

After running on relatively no sleep from the Grady's fiasco, things took a turn for the weird as we loaded Kim, guitars, lights, cameras, action, and a variety of van trash and headed down to Boohatch for a demo session that wielded some tracks for a friend and an acoustic demo of a new rockin' tune that's surprisingly cooler than I originally thought it would be.  Can't beat it with a stick. 

Unless your name is Wacky.  And you have a machete.  And a chicken.  And a loving, patient, understanding wife.  Did I say understanding?  Yes I did.  Much thanks to Scottie for putting up with all of our Damn Quails craziness, including the odd smells emanating from the basement, the ultra-loud lead guitar riffs at 3am, and the constant rabble of musicians that come tromping around the property.  The woman is a saint.

Deli rocked.  But I'm tired.  So you'll have to come next week and see what all the hubbub is about.  See you at the show...


Finishing touches and some details about the new record.

So this whole Damn Quails studio album thing that's happening...yeah, it's really happening.  We finished up tracking a week or two ago and I must say that it's becoming the record that we were hoping to make for our first major studio album release.  A huge conglomeration of some great songs, impeccable musicians, and amazing friends to boot.  Wanna know who played?

Jon Knudson
John Fullbright
Steve Baker
Thomas Young
Luke Mullenix

Not a bad list if I do say so myself.  These guys are the cream of the crop.  Can't wait to get it out to you fine folks.  It's going to be mighty fancy.

Memorial Day is this weekend.  Come see us at 5:30pm at Squander Fest in Tecumseh, OK on Sunday and at the Paseo Arts Festival at Noon on Monday (Memorial Day Day)  Whammy.


Felkers Fro, Topless Sorority Girls, and a big middle finger to KOMA

It was about time someone shaved that thing off of Evan Felker's head, but much like the sword in the stone, only one man was up to the task of removing all that foliage.


I'm not saying I wouldn't let him cut my hair (especially since I'm lacking in that department) but I wouldn't let him cut MY hair.  He can produce the hell out of whatever he wants, but I've seen him wield a machete with less than surgical precision...

However, Felker is no Sampson and Mac is definitely no Delilah.  The Troubadours provided a few hours of unadulterated crock and roll for the fine folks of Tecumseh, fro or no fro.  They're salty as the flats and tighter than a highwire and it doesn't take a genius to realize these cats deserve every bit of the ridiculously good press and awards and recognition and buzz-chat that they get.  We Damn Quails opened up the gig with a slightly pared down full band...only 7 guys on stage this time.  Which brings me to my next point.

I have desperately missed playing electric guitar.  The first year Gabe and I started this whole duo fiasco, we played somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 acoustic shows...and 2 electric shows.  We're doing our best to tip the scales the other direction this next year though, and I've got to say that I've never had the pleasure of picking and grinning with so many insanely over-the-top talented guys.  It's a marvel to behold from my little corner of the stage.

So, in the spirit of getting back into the electric swing of things, we took Dan the Van on his second trip to Stillwater for an electric show at the College Bar last Tuesday.  Dan's road legs are getting officially worked in as we've put on just over 1000 miles in the past few weeks.  Still, there is one fatal flaw in the design of our lovable, mid-90's GMC Safari: No CD Player.  We got a tape deck though, but good luck finding anything other than Conway Twitty and Kenny Rogers tapes at truck stops.  They don't carry Tom Waits tapes anymore.  Due to this lack of tunes, we decided to kick the radio dial over to 92.5 and see what kinds of delicious oldies we could come up with to make the drive more pleasant.  As it turns out, the music played on KOMA has seriously changed in the last 10 years since I've actually listened to the radio.  It seems they've gone to a strictly Eagles/Eddie Money/Eagles/Captain and Tenille/MORE EAGLES kind of rotation instead of the really good music that has existed for the past 50-60 years.  So, I decided to do something I haven't done in almost a decade...I called the request line to a radio show and talked to the icon himself:  Mr. Danny Williams.  I was almost certain my first request would garner a "nice tune!" or something of the like from Danny Williams, followed by a prompt spinning of Leon Russel's "Alcatraz" and much joy and rockin' by everyone in the van.  Instead I got a hard "Nope.  We don't play any Leon here".

No Leon Russel.  At an Oklahoma based station that plays the best of the 60's, 70's, and what little there was to choose from in the 80's.  NONE.  Much to my dismay, I threw out my safety pick.  "How 'bout some "Blueberry Hill" then, Danny?  "No, we don't go back NEAR that far."  An oldies station doesn't play one of the most rockin' duple-type piano songs from the immortal Fats Domino in 1956, or Elvis Presley in 1957, or Little Richard in 1958, or Bill Haley and His Comets in 1960. 

Disgusting.  It's not Danny's fault, but someone should wring the necks of whoever is programming KOMA these days and remind them that the Eagles weren't the only band to create music in the past 60 years, and not everything that's old is lame.  Guess it was time for KOMA to get hip to the vibe of the ridiculous crap that's played on most other commercial radio stations...the lamest of the lame of anything that was extremely popular and nothing else.  But I digress...

The first time we played here (College Bar in case you got lost in my KOMA tirade) the crowd was huge and we had them eating out of the palm of our sweaty, grubby, musician hands.  This time, the crowd was huge but we had to forcefully tie on a feed bag to get them to eat...until the booze kicked in about midnight, that is.  College Bar is one of those places that reminds me a lot of the Deli.  They have cheap beer, strong shots, live music, and a smokey "just smoked a pack without ever lighting one up" vibe.  I love it.  Not to mention the tables and tables of sorority girls out for a night on the town.

About halfway through the second set, we decided a freebie T-shirt might get things moving on the merch front as there was not a lot of interest due to the high content of frat boys that were annoying just about every piece of tail in the joint.  So, after turning around and tossing a ladies small like a wedding bouquet, I turned around just in time to see one of said sorority girls taking off the shirt she'd worn into the bar to change into her brand new, slightly too small Damn Quails shirt.

And the frat boys were instantly converted to lifelong DQ fans.  See you at the show...


There's Definitely Something in the Water

For a colorblind man, packing for a trip is generally a wild guessing game resulting in a conglomeration of clashing pastels and oddly patterned button up nightmares.  Lucky for me, there's no real shower to speak of a the Something in the Water Festival at the White Wolf Trading Post in Regency, Texas.

But there is a river.   And snakes.  And some of the most down to earth folks in Texas.

Since a change of clothes was optional, it didn't take long to load up the van.  For this particular little jaunt to the Lone Star State, we  traveled with guitars, a tent, sleeping bags, a few guitars, harps, cables, tuners, picks, strings, things, etc., not to mention two singer/songwriters, a harp player, and my sister.  The joke gets better.

Straight line winds made it tough to navigate as Dan the Damn Quails Van was constantly being shoved towards the median like a big white brick cruising down the highway.  However, hats off to GMC for a van that rides like a big comfy boat on still water.  (Heh...Stillwater)  The Safari is the pinnacle of the 1993 Passenger Vans, and even still has ashtrays for smoking convenience. And it's got red shag, which makes me feel like I'm driving a mobile 70's porno set that's rocketing towards Texas.  We got lost in a shady part of Fort Worth trying to find the 377 South loop and ended up passing what appeared to be a crack junky in the middle of a great binge wearing a black leather poncho, carrying an assortment of sticks into a condemned apartment complex and smiling like he'd just been saved.  Then there was a wrong turn at the Japanese Festival!!! and a mere 5 hours later, we were more or less isolated in the glory of Regency, Texas.

It was 30 minutes to the nearest anything and a true sight to behold.  Regency is home to one of the oldest and only wooden suspension bridges left in Texas.  It was mostly raised by hand nearly a hundred years ago on top of land that was once home to a slew of Native Americans for centuries before the white man ever set foot south of the Red River.  The White Wolf Trading Post is nestled in Regency, Texas and home to Alton and Sue Watson, some of the honest-to-God nicest folks in the history of nice folks.  Not to mention the fact that they're both terrific musicians and songwriters and more hospitable than a hospital...by far. 

Regency Routine (or, The Gospel According to Regency)

Wake up (if you've been to bed) to a Texas Sunsise
Saunter (or stumble) to the trading post and say hey to the folks that are still up.
Pour a cup of coffee, a bloody mary, and eat some eggs and sausage.
Play music.
Repeat Process.

We got the pleasure of watching some of our longtime favorite songwriters as well as a host of new friends.  Skinner rocked it, as per usual.  Susan Herndon is always a pleasure to watch, especially when she's swapping songs with Tiny.  The Real Bill Williams was much better than the fake.  Alton and Sue sound like a couple that's been singing together for more years than I've been alive.  Shelly Phelps and John Randolph are always amazing, and Joel Melton is as crazy as ever in sobriety and sounding as good as I've ever heard.

All in all, another successful trip to Texas for a band that's on the way to doing a whole lot more gigs where the stars and bright and whatnot.  If you're in Fort Worth, hit up Spencer's Corner on a Monday night for our good buddy Mike McClure's Monday Night of Manly Musicianship.  We'll be back there soon.  And if you're in San Saba County, go to the White Wolf Trading Post and talk to Alton and Sue for a while.  It can change your entire perspective.  Until next time, folks.   See you at the show.