Ian Feathers

Quaker Steak & Lube will feature the Ian Feathers Band on Aug. 9 at 8 p.m.

Ian Feathers defines as a character for whom life and music resonate with perseverance and truth. 

Call him Bristol’s Honest Abe.

Hear the truth according to Feathers and his life led when the Ian Feathers Band encamps at Quaker Steak & Lube in Bristol, Virginia, on Friday, Aug. 9. Entertainment, spun from a web of Appalachian folk that rocks, spills generously from Feathers’ DNA.

“It’s unique and authentic Southern Appalachian roots music,” said Feathers. “At Quaker Steak, we’ll play more rock. They want you to turn it up a little bit there, maybe get a little rowdy.”

Just don’t come to Quaker in search of Marilyn Manson. Shock rock isn’t Feathers’ modus operandi.

Reference “Red Face” and “Long Haul.” Released in 2015 and 2017, Feathers’ life and times as an East Tennessean unfold in the lyrics written and melodies played.

“‘Red Face’ had a lot more acoustic roots behind it,” Feathers, 36, said. “‘Long Haul’ was more exploratory. You’ll hear some electric violin, organ, keyboards, some mandolin. The songs are inherently deeper, more focused on ‘Long Haul.’”

A native of Bristol, Tennessee, Feathers grew up in the arms of struggle. From those days birthed a sense of responsibility and perseverance, a will to overcome.

Tenacity encases Feathers’ music like bark hugs a tree. Consequently, his songs are not lollipops and rainbow-drenched music.

“You got it,” he said. “It’s not Gummy Bears and ice cream cones. I grew up right beside Sullivan East High School. You’ve got to go through some things, like scraping a living from the hillside. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up. But we had a deep sense of pride and family.”

Life as he knows it informs Feathers’ music. Friends, including the late Brian Andrews (“Red Beard”), turn up in his music amid family and inner essence gleaned. Truth, like the steady rolling ripple of a mountainside creek, permeates Feathers’ songs.

“I’m a straight shooter,” Feathers said. “If it’s a song about experience, it needs to be real. My life hasn’t always been puppies, kittens and rainbows, but that’s real.”

Feathers works a day job. He supports a family with children. Still, for him music rates more as an outlet of need as opposed to want.

“I get a sense of accomplishment from it, but I also get a release from it,” he said. “Music is something everybody can get something from. It’s a necessity for happiness. Yeah, I’ve got a day job, but my music is just as important as that. Music for me, I can’t be happy without it.”

Give him a listen, but bring a mind with which to contemplate. If in search of bubble gum, try Walmart. If in search of substance, dial up the Ian Feathers Band.

“Music always brings me joy, but it also helps me to see the light in the dark places,” Feathers said. “Music, for me, it’s a necessity for happiness. I can’t be happy without it.”

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Tom Netherland is a freelance writer. He may be reached at features@bristolnews.com.

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