Cigarette (detail) — 21st Annual Woody Guthrie Festival, 2018

Woodyfest 2018: The Damn Quails

Quails at Lou's

From Jam Session to Touring Band

According [Sidenote: This is the twen­ti­eth install­ment in the Bureau’s Woodyfest 21 (2018) cov­er­age, fea­tur­ing Norman-based duo The Damn Quails.] to their band bio, The Damn Quails began life as a weekly jam ses­sion between song­writ­ers and core band­mem­bers Gabe Marshall and Bryon White. Eventually expand­ing to a five-piece act, the band added drum­mer Thomas Young, multi-instru­men­tal­ist and singer Kevin “Haystack” Foster, and bassist Dillon Sampson.

The Quails released Down the Hatch to pop­u­lar and crit­i­cal acclaim — to the point that their fan­base has its own name, The Covey. The sin­gles “Fool’s Gold,” “So So Long,” and “Me and the Whiskey” all spent time spin­ning for radio disc jock­eys, and the band toured exten­sively after its 2011 release.

Their suc­cess was short-lived. At the height of the album’s pop­u­lar­ity the Quails found them­selves in a dis­agree­ment with their label and man­age­ment, lead­ing to a law­suit. Despite hav­ing lost the rights to their songs, their album, their like­nesses, and the band name, they con­tin­ued to tour. With no mer­chan­dise to sell at shows, they strug­gled. Only their per­se­ver­ance and the loy­alty of The Covey kept them afloat.

The law­suit ended in their favor, but it had been a tough two years. The Covey helped finance a Kickstarter cam­paign that paid for their sec­ond album, and in 2015 they released Out of the Birdcage.

The Quails played a pared down set at Lou’s Rocky Road Tavern on fes­ti­val Friday, with only the two prin­ci­pal mem­bers, Marshall and White, appear­ing. Despite the intense heat, the audi­ence packed the patio to see these rare birds take flight once again.

Gallery: The Damn Quails


About Chris J. Zähller

International Man of Mystery. Cocktail Nerd. Occasionally designs websites. Sometimes snaps a picture or two.

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