18 Mar 2000


Reckless Kelly

Tonight, I took in live music at Mcgonigel's Mucky Duck by one of my favorite bands, Reckless Kelly.  After a bit of a slow start, the boys put on one hell of a show.  It seemed like they had a better rapport with the crowd than usual.  As always, they gave the appearance of loving what they do, one of the reasons this band is so enjoyable.  Five members strong, this youngish group (all are in their 20s) migrated to Austin a few years ago from the northwest; the driving force behind the band are brothers Willy Braun (lead vocals, guitar) and Cody Braun (vocal, mandolin, violin, harmonica).  .  They play music that is not easily categorized, but has been called everything from Texas music to alternative country to americana.  Willy Braun refers to their stuff as "hick rock."  But the term hick really doesn't do their stuff justice.  Unlike more traditional country -- which artists seem to suffer from a preponderance of broken down pickup trucks, drinking, and other depressing events -- the Texas sound or alt-country or whatever it is that RK plays seems much more upbeat, and the songwriting is much more vibrant.  For those who know the stories spun by established Texas musicians such as Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen, and Lyle Lovett -- think of a younger version that includes a band that can rock with the best of them, and you have Reckless Kelly.

For the shows tonight, they had brought in yet another guitar player (their fourth since I've been following them -- this one apparently on loan from the George DeVore band) -- and this seemed to limit them on some of their songs (we learned he's only played three shows with them -- given that, he did a great job).  They did a lot of new stuff that will soon be released on their forthcoming cd -- including a nifty little tribute to the Beatles -- as well as some of the old favorites like Hey Say May, Wild Western Windblown Band, Don't Come Back.   For their second show, they even played the ghost track from their live CD (if you've heard it, you'll be amused; if not, go buy their CD!) as well as their trademark bluegrass cover of AC/DC's Shook Me All Night Long and a wicked cover of Steve Earle's Copperhead Road. 

As I mentioned above, the band -- especially the Braun brothers -- gave the impression of doing what they love and actually making money off of it.  Indeed, Willy told a story about waking up early after Saint Patty's only to discover people passed out all over their place -- and his getting to pick with a guitar legend who had stopped by.   That sort of passion for one's work is refreshing and admirable.

Reflecting on this amazing band after their performance, I thought of a line from Gail Wynand in The Fountainhead, which I finished rereading for the umpteenth time today:  "I never meet the men whose work I love.  The work means too much to it.  I don't want the men to spoil it.  They usually do.  They're an anticlimax to their own talent."  Somehow, I think the driving force behind this band may defy Wynand's proclamation.  Interestingly, a few weeks ago two attractive female acquaintances of mine with horrible self-esteem set out to sleep with the band.   The efforts of these two persons disgusted me because they were not at all motivated by this fine band's work -- their motivation apparently was solely to see if they could succeed, and give their egos a much needed boost -- and I hoped that the band would not prove true Wynand's notion that most men who produce great things can't live up to it in their personal lives.  But score one for at least the driving force behind the band.  Apparently, the female who set her sights on Willy Braun met no success -- Willy apparently was much more interested in his work than in screwing a complete stranger (albeit an attractive one);  the bass player, on the other hand, succumbed.  But kudos to Willy -- having standards in one's love life seems to be altogether rare in society these days, and I imagine it's exponentially more rare among band members! 

Incidentally, my girlfriend Callie has made boot minidisk copies of 4 Houston show dates total now (Fall 99 Mucky Duck, Halloween Brewery, December Mucky Duck, and this Mucky Duck appearance).  We're thinking of starting a Reckless Kelly unofficial website (because the official one is SO pitifully out of date) and possibly offering boot copies for sale.   If anyone's interested in this, drop me a line.

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  Copyright (c) 2000, Kevin L. Whited