Monday and Feb. 11 at the Hi-Tone Café, 1913 Poplar. Doors open at 8 p.m. Cover is $5. For more information, go to hitonememphis.com, or call 901-278-8663
Brought together in 2010, Nashville's Wild Feathers are a promising union of roots singer-songwriters.
Veterans of individual solo careers and previous band projects, the Feathers have been signed to two major label deals during their brief career, which will begin in earnest this summer with the release of the band's self-titled debut record for Warner Bros.
Such teamings were popular in 1970s, and the Feathers principals — Ricky Young, Joel King, Taylor Burns and Preston Wimberly — are hoping they will be more Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young than Souther-Hillman-Furay Band.
"We don't have the typical story of guys who grew up together and had high school bands, or have spent a million miles on the road in a van," says bassist/vocalist King. "When we were first talking about doing the Wild Feathers, it was just like, 'Let's write some songs and see where this goes.'"
With the Wild Feathers album set to hit stores in June, the next few months will be spent setting up the record's launch; playing special showcases for radio programmers across the country and performing in March at the annual music industry confab South by Southwest.
In the meantime, the band is kicking off what it calls its "Southern Residency Tour." The Wild Feathers will spend the next month playing weekly shows at clubs in Atlanta, Birmingham, Jackson, Miss.,Knoxville, Oxford and Memphis.
The group, which kicked off the local portion of its residency tour this week at the Hi-Tone Café, will return to the club Monday and again on Feb. 11.
"It's kind of an experimental idea," King says. "We don't have an album out right now, but we still wanted to play. We thought we can play in a way where a town can get familiar with the band. So if people come and they like the show, they can tell their friends and come back the next week and see us."
Before the Feathers, King had recorded and performed solo and with The Effects. Through a mutual industry connection, he and fellow Music City solo artist Ricky Young reached out to Austinites Preston Wimberly and Taylor Burns, who had been playing with Noble Dog, to form what was originally planned as a songwriting project.
Things moved fairly quickly for the foursome, which was signed to Interscope in 2011. Though the band did start working with producer Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith) on a record, they were dropped by Interscope after just a few months before the album could be completed.
"It lit a fire under us, and we got everything organized after that," King says. "In the process, the band turned into a beast."
Writing more songs and hitting the road — the group landed an opening spot on Paul Simon's 2011 solo tour — the band got a second chance when it was snapped up by Warner Bros.
The Wild Feathers finally began work on their LP last year in Nashville with producer Jay Joyce (Emmylou Harris, Wallflowers). With all four members contributing material, they came to the sessions with some 60 demos. "With everyone being writers," King says, "we had to really scale it down and make the best album out of the material."
So far, the first single, "Backwoods Company," points in the direction of polished roots-rock; it's a galloping track replete with muscled guitars and multipart harmonies. Though the band cites old-schoolers like the Allman Brothers Band and Bob Dylan as influences, it's clear they are being positioned commercially somewhere between the rambling folk of Mumford & Sons and Southern arena pop of Kings of Leon.
After two labels, dozens of songs and months of waiting, the Wild Feathers are eager for everyone to hear what they've been working on. King says: "We're lucky in that because of the way everything developed, we got to really pick what we wanted to do. We all came in knowing we wanted to kick ass and make a great record. Now we just want to get it out into the world."