Onstage or on a record, The Wild Feathers provide a sonic Rorschach test to rock ‘n’ roll aficionados.
Idaho resident and Crystal Bay Casino concertgoer Scott Lee said, “The first time I heard them, I thought, Tom Petty, Eagles, Led Zeppelin, Jackson Browne. And I was right. They’re a rock ‘n’ roll band but at the bottom of it all, they definitely have a country heart.”
Lee and friend Daniele Latora did indeed drive from Idaho to Lake Tahoe for the show, but first saw The Wild Feathers on Wednesday in Tempe, Arizona and Thursday in Pioneertown, California. On Saturday they will see the band play in Salt Lake City because, well, it’s pretty much on the way back to Idaho. Lee’s followed the band since 2014.
On a tour that has five shows on five nights across 1,864 miles, The Wild Feathers are thrilled to be working again, keeping their voices in fine fettle with swashes of Coors Light between songs, playing for adoring fans and sharing originals from a new album.
On Friday, enthusiastic females lined the front of the stage and sang choruses and screamed in delight, eyes rapt on the band. The three frontmen wore pointed boots: acoustic guitarist Ricky Young, electric guitarist Taylor Burns and bassist Joel King. Each were bandleaders before combining their talent in Nashville 12 years ago. They are brilliant and nuanced songwriters, musicians and singers. Why this band is not widely known and acclaimed across the globe is baffling. If a drummer can possess great stage presence, animated Ben Dumas, who wore sneakers, has it. Guitarist Brett “Moves like Wyman” Moore is downright taciturn in work boots and in comparison to his high-energy bandmates, but in a most tasteful way, delivering solid solos on top of midtempo songs from his three different axes.
During the live-music lockdown, The Wild Feathers holed up in a remote cabin and created their fourth studio album – the first produced on their own – and it was picked up by the esteemed the New West Records label. The title track, “Alvardao,” features everything that’s great about the band with its three-part harmonies and nod to California country pioneers The Flying Burrito Brothers.
At Lake Tahoe last night, the crowed buzzed with anticipation and the band members stood in darkness at the side of the stage, waiting for their 9 p.m. start. The show opened an hour earlier with a solo acoustic set from Texas’ extraordinary outlaw country and bluesman Jonathan Tyler, who had last played at Crystal Bay in 2010, opening for Robert Randolph and the Family Band.
In somewhat dramatic fashion, The Wild Feathers opened with their big current hit, “Alvarado,” but suddenly Young stopped singing. He and King somehow were wearing each other’s portable mixing monitors. After they put the appropriate gear in the right pockets, the show began. There were four songs from the new album, but “Alvarado” was never finished. Young lamented missing the chance after “our bad-ass intro.”
The crowd didn’t mind. The biggest response was for “Left My Woman,” with the guys onstage leaving the harmonics to the women in the front. But all genders were smitten. The lone shooter in the photographer’s well was tapped on the back of his shoulder and he was asked by a man to take a photo of Young’s right forearm. “I want to get that tattoo,” the man explained.
The Wild Feathers are apt to perform respectful and startlingly good cover songs. We were startled indeed when they played “Handle With Care” by The Traveling Willburys. Young’s vocal tone precisely emulated Roy Orbison’s.
And if there’s such a thing as an obscure Led Zeppelin song, it might be “Hey, Hey What Can I Do,” which was the B side of the single “Immigrant Song” but didn’t make it onto “Led Zeppelin III.” The Wild Feathers opened the encore set with the aforementioned Led Zeppelin tune, followed by The Band’s “The Weight,” which showed off the Nashville group’s superb voices.
Fans crowded the musicians afterward to shake hands and take cellphone photos. By 11 p.m. the tour bus pulled out of the lot, en route to Salt Lake City.
Album review: The Wild Feathers’ “Medium Rarities.”