Reckless Kelly

Music from Big Sky

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By Michael Norman  

Brothers Willie and Cody Braun had the kind of childhood that either hooks you on the musical life or sends you running headlong towards more normal pursuits. The Brauns grew up playing and touring with their father's band, Muzzie Braun and the Boys, and by the time they had reached the age of majority they had gigged with the likes of Merle Haggard, performed on the Grand Ole Opry, and appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson.

Lucky for all of us, they loved it all -- the writing, the recording, the performing, the hardscrabble life on the road. They formed their own band, Reckless Kelly, in the 1990s, and by 1997 had set out to conquer Austin, Texas, a musical city that was a perfect fit for their Big Sky blend of country, rock and hard-drinking Americana.

Five albums and a few thousand tour stops later, they Willie (guitars, songwriting), Cody (vocals, fiddle, mandolin), David Abeyta (guitar), Jimmy McFeeley (bass) and Jay Nazz (drums) are one of the top bands in American roots music. Their fifth album, Wicked Twisted Road, is a boiling, post-modern Texas stew of rock, country, folk and blues. You want full-bore Texas blues-rock? Check out "Wretched Again" or "Sadie Got a Six Gun." Prefer smart, post-modern folk? Try "Wicked Twisted Road" and "Dogtown." How about road songs and quirky, romantic Americana? You've got to hear "Seven Nights in Ireland," "My Baby's Got a Whole Lot More" and "Nobody Haunts Me Like You."

Michael Norman is Entertainment Editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.