One of the county's best Americana bands, Reckless Kelly, loves baseball. Last Thursday, they took a little batting practice in Corpus Christi, Texas where the local minor league club, the Hooks, were gearing up to play the San Antonio Missions. Based in Austin, Reckless uses its down time well. With a week of break during a long summer of touring the boys were taking it easy before venturing north to home country in Challis, Idaho where they'll join the rest of their family for the annual Braun Brothers Reunion.
It all started in Stanley, nearly 30 years ago. Four years ago the growing brood of musicians decamped to Challis where the town rolled out the red carpet, built a stage and gave up space on the golf course for the reunion show. Muzzie, Gary and Billy Braun are all county-western musicians, who play together as the Original Braun Brothers, and separately. In the 1940s and '50s, their musician dad played guitar at casinos in Jackpot, Nev., commuting daily from their home in Twin Falls.
Muzzie's four sons—Cody, Willy, Gary and Micky, who grew up in Clayton, had instruments for toys. They play with him as Muzzie and The Boys, and they, in turn, front two bands: Willie and Cody in Reckless Kelly, and Micky and Gary in Micky & the Motorcars.
In addition to the Braun family tree of acts, several contemporary musical cohorts will perform including the rocking Oklahoma-Texas foursome Cross Canadian Ragweed; Reckless Kelly's Austin-based mentor Robert Earl Keen, and fellow Austinites the Randy Rogers Band and George DeVore.
As well, there will be Headwaters, Pinto Bennett, the Do Wah Riders from California and Cody's wife, folk singer-songwriter Kathleen O'Keefe Braun.
"The reunion has always been, who ever can make it," Cody Braun said, after batting practice in the hot Texas sun. "It's tough for bands to make annual events all the time. When you can get people for a couple years in a row it's great. It's such a nice small town vibe. It doesn't get too crazy. Challis has been great and a huge help for my folks. Between sponsors and volunteers, helps everybody out."
Reckless Kelly and Micky & the Motorcars both have new CDs out, "Bulletproof" and "Naïve," respectively.
Reckless consists of lead singer Willy Braun, brother Cody on fiddle, mandolin and harmonica, lead guitarist David Abeyta, bassist Jimmy McFeeley and drummer Jay Nazz.
The single "Ragged As The Road" from "Bulletproof" reached number one on the Texas Music Chart last week. Other stand-out songs on the album are "One False Move" co-written by Willy Braun and Dustin Welch, "How Was California," the ballads "I Never Had A Chance," "Mirage," and "God Forsaken Town" written by Willy Braun and Robert Earl Keen about New Orleans. The later is quite possibly one of the most beautiful songs written about a disaster and includes the forlorn sound of Ephram Owens', a first on a Reckless recording.
"It's a little different record for sure," Cody said. "We change it up a little. We're not afraid to push the envelope. We do what we need for each song rather than say 'I play fiddle so there has to be a fiddle on that.' Independent record labels let you do that. We're pretty lucky to be able to continue the growth of the band without negative influence."
The Motorcars consists of Micky and Gary Braun on guitar, Mark McCoy on bass, Shane Vannerson on drums, and Kris Farrow on lead guitar.
"Naïve" is full of rockin' country tunes from the title song co-written by Micky and Willy Braun to "Long Enough to Leave" co-written with Randy Rogers, "Amber" co-written with Savannah Welch (Dustin's daughter) and the hard driving "Bloodshot." As well there are two absolutely lovely songs, "Seashell" and "Seeds" that show a new depth for the band and for Micky's songwriting skills.
For the Brauns the reunion is not just a return to home base, but a chance to connect with each other away from the maddening crowds in Austin and on the road.
"It's funny," Cody Braun said with a laugh. "It's all the different bands but with the same guys. We'll all be playing all day every day. It's fun."
Challis is approximately two and a half-hours northeast of Sun Valley.
When: Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 7-9.
Where: Challis Community Stage, Challis, ID.
Free street dance with Original Braun Brothers and Randy Rogers Band.
Where: downtown Challlis.
6 p.m. Kathleen Braun
6:45 p.m. George Devore
9 p.m. Robert Earl Keen
10:30 p.m. Reckless Kelly
12:15 p.m. Muzzie Braun
1 p.m. Do Wah Riders
1:45 p.m. Headwaters
2:45 p.m. Guitar Pull with Muzzie, Micky, Willy, Cody, Randy and Pinto.
3:45 p.m. Pinto Bennett
5 p.m.-6 p.m. Randy Rogers
6:15 p.m. - 7:15 p.m. Braun Family
7:30 p.m. -8:45 p.m. Cross Canadian Ragweed
9 p.m. Micky & The Motorcars