Interview: The Damn Quails are flying high, playing Stillwater and OKC shows this weekend
A version of this story appears in Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
The Damn Quails flying high
The Norman-based duo of Bryon White and Gabriel Marshall have been getting national and even international attention on the Americana and red dirt music scenes since releasing their debut album in October.
After just over two years of flocking together, The Damn Quails are really taking off.
Since the start of 2012, the Norman-based duo of singer/songwriter/guitarists Bryon White and Gabriel Marshall have watched their debut album, “Down the Hatch,” ascend into the top 20 on the Americana Airplay chart, while their bouncy single “Fool’s Gold” debuted at No. 35 on the Texas Music Chart.
“The momentum is working in our favor right now, so we’re getting ready to hopefully take over the world. That’s kind of the plan,” White said with a laugh during a recent interview. “That was our initial, like, goal to at least to take over the world with something. Hopefully, we can do it with country-Americana-red dirt-ish music.”
Before they take their musical quest for world domination to Texas, Minnesota, Illinois and several other states over the next couple of months, the Quails are roosting closer to home with shows at Friday at Eskimo Joe’s in Stillwater and Saturday as openers for Cody Canada & The Departed at the Wormy Dog Saloon in Bricktown.
Plus, they intend to keep their regular acoustic dates at 10 p.m. Mondays at The Deli in Norman and 8 p.m. Wednesdays at Libby’s Cafe in Goldsby going for as long as they can manage, even as their burgeoning tour schedule takes them further afield.
“Those weekly song-swapping shows, those are what’s gotten us where we are. We really enjoy doing ‘em. If there’s any such thing as a practice with The Damn Quails, it’s Monday night at The Deli. We like those types of shows: They keep us honest and grounded … and they give us a chance to run through some stuff. And then we can take it out on the road once it’s molded and kicked around and played through. I think it really helps the touring show that we can continue to do those,” Marshall said.
Longtime devotees of Okemah’s Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, Marshall, 30, and White, 29, have known each other for about 10 years and have been making music separately for even longer.
“We’re both huge fans of Woody Guthrie and Ellis Paul and Don Conoscenti and all those guys. The Red Dirt Rangers and Tom Skinner. We’ve been hanging out with Skinner for years, hanging out in a parking lot in Okemah playing music,” White said. “We both started out in punk bands in high school, which is weird. We messed around with rock ‘n’ roll, but then we started hanging out with those guys down at WoodyFest.
“I know for me the first time I saw Ellis Paul at the Blue Door was the first time I actually saw one guy with one guitar command a room that you could hear a pin drop in, and … I was down with that and really got into folk music. And started going through (Bob) Dylan and Neil (Young) and all the greats and (Warren) Zevon. And you just work your way into the weirdness up to Tom Waits.”
They came together as a duo about two and half years ago when a slot opened up at Libby’s weekly four-man song swap and White stepped into it. Marshall was already on the slate, and they soon discovered they were exceptional musical matches.
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