Wild Wing Cafe not only serves up hot wings, cold beer and good times, but it also holds a huge commitment to local musical talent. For 30 years, musicians have used the Wild Wing stage as a springboard to launch their musical careers. Edwin McCain, Zac Brown Band, Hootie & the Blowfish, Old Dominion and countless others have commanded the stages of Wild Wing Cafe, where guests flock for hot, savory wings, a cold brew and live music. And now, guests can plug into this music scene every week during Friday Night Lights at the restaurants and virtually through the Wild Wing Cafe YouTube channel.
Wild Wing Cafe started in 1990 as a small beach restaurant on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Singer/songwriter Edwin McCain played several shows at the laid-back location, signing his first contract in the restaurant. Popular band Hootie & the Blowfish followed on the same stage, drawing crowds to hear its bluesy-rock tunes. As word spread, Wild Wing Cafe soon became a place for artists and bands to launch their careers.
“This is our big little secret,” says Sharyn Hooks, Wild Wing Cafe marketing director. “There are so many musicians that started out playing free concerts on our stages and graduated to playing in sold-out arenas 10 years later.”
Zac Brown Band played often at the Augusta, Georgia location, and Brown was so familiar with the restaurant that he cooked his own wings in the kitchen. Multi-platinum singer/ songwriter Andy Grammar performed at Wild Wing, and the popular band Old Dominion signed its Sony contract at the Greenville, South Carolina, location. Country star Luke Combs frequently played on stages in Asheville, North Carolina and Knoxville, Tennessee.
Several Wild Wing Cafe artists have gone on to showcase their talents on the small screen. Benton Black placed in the top 10 of season 10 of “American Idol,” Hunter Price appeared on season 13 of “America’s Got Talent” as a semifinalist and Jimmy Mowery was a contestant on “The Voice.”
“Musicians believe in our brand and offer their talents because they want to get into the business,” says Jennifer Siebenaler, Wild Wing Cafe director of entertainment. “We support performers by offering them a recording of their show so that they can push their music out further. Also, the restaurant frequently sends the artists home with a meal to support their families.”
In April 2020 during COVID-19, Friday Night Lights was launched as a livestream. Wild Wing Cafe staff connected guests to performing artists in their homes as they played their shows. Also a musician, Siebenaler performed on this platform. “It was nice to take requests and interact with regulars. We were still giving our customers hot wings, cold beer and good times through online ordering, from the safety of home.”
Now, Wild Wing Cafe has safely reinstated live music at all of its company-owned restaurants. Guests can catch the next breakthrough star by visiting Wild Wing Cafe restaurants for Friday Night Lights, highlighting local bands and singers every Friday night. Some locations, such as Hilton Head and Savannah, Georgia, add music on other nights as well.
Friday Night Lights also is available on the Wild Wing Cafe YouTube channel, hosted by Siebenaler. “I show up in one of the locations and highlight some food and the music that we offer. People who want to stay at home can still see what’s going on.” Local musical talent is unique to each location, making each restaurant a homegrown experience.
Upcoming acts include Tokyo Joe on Dec. 11 at Wild Wing Cafe in Greenville-Magnolia Park, South Carolina, and Cash Jennings Tribute on Dec. 18 in Anderson, South Carolina. A new location opens in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a weekend of festivities and music on Feb. 25.