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Reckless Kelly’s goal: Late-night talk show


This article was published February 7, 2013 at 3:09 a.m.

— After more than 15 years together, just how reckless could a band be?

Reckless Kelly landed in Austin, Texas, in early 1997, and the group still finds their green pasture there - at least on those occasions when the band is not out on the road, bringing their mixture of rock and country to their nationwide fan base.

“I think our secret is that at the end of the day we always try to do something that makes us happy,” says Reckless Kelly drummer Jay Nazz, who founded the band with brothers Willy and Cody Braun in the mid-1990s in Bend, Oregon. “Willy is such a great songwriter so that’s a pretty easy thing to aim for.”

Willy Braun, who does most of the songwriting andsinging, also plays guitar. His brother, Cody, also sings and plays fiddle, mandolin and harmonica. David Abeyta now has the lead guitar job and bassist Joe Miller left the band Back Porch Mary in early 2012 to complete the Reckless Kelly lineup.

The band released its debut album, Millican, in 1998, and followed that two years later with a pair of albums: Acoustic: Live at Stubb’s andThe Day. Sugar Hill Records then signed the band and released Under the Table and Above the Sun in 2003 and Wicked Twisted Road in 2005.Three years later, the band switched to Yep Roc Records, which released Bulletproof in 2008 and Somewhere in Time in 2010.

Next came the desire for starting their own label, and No Big Deal Records released the band’s latest album, Good Luck & True Love in September 2011. That album contains a song that Nazz says will certainly be in the Little Rock show this weekend: “I Never Liked St. Valentine’s Day,” in which the namesake of the noted semi-holiday is compared unfavorably with St. Cecilia, St. Francis, St. Patrick and other sainted figures.

“Willy co-wrote that song with Todd Snider,” Nazznotes, “and you can really hear their different styles at work together on that one. It’s not that frequent that he writes with others, and when we do a cover, that’s also unusual. One of our best-known is Richard Thompson’s ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning,’ which we did as a favor to a friend of ours in Idaho, Hogsmoke Dave, who is a great cook and a huge music fan and loves that song.”

Nazz estimates the band is on the road about 180 days each year. The band is still working on a couple of goals: getting to play on the PBS-TV series Austin City Limits, and getting invited to play on one or more of the late-night TV talk/variety shows.

“When Cody and Willy were 9 or 10, they were in their family Western swing band in Idaho and played on both the Johnny Carson and Jay Leno versions of The Tonight Show, so they havegrown up in the entertainment world and are ready to do those sort of shows again. We’ve come a long way from when we started out in a ‘78 brown Suburban that had twowindow cranks. If it started raining, we had to pass those cranks around to the guys in the back seat, where there were no cranks.”

Reckless Kelly has played at many a venue over the years, even the occasional ballpark, singing the national anthem or its own songs. They played outside the 2012 Super Bowl at a party for those who were not inside the Dallas Cowboys stadium, where the game was played. Nazz says the band is also proud of its involvement in the Reckless Kelly Celebrity Softball Challenge, which raises money for the Miracle League and the Austin Little League.

“We’ve raised about $150,000 in the past four years,” Nazz says. “It’s meant to make sure that everybody who wants to, whether in a wheelchair or whatever, should have a chance to play.”

Two younger Braun brothers, Micky and Gary, have their own band, Micky & the Motorcars, which also plays in Arkansas at various venues.

Reckless Kelly

Opening act: The Damn


9 p.m. Friday, Revolution

Room, 300 President

Clinton Ave., Little Rock

Admission: $12 advance;

$15 day of show

(501) 823-0090

Weekend, Pages 34 on 02/07/2013

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