Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Rolling stones

Braun clan gathers great musicians as they grow

Express Staff Writer

Every year for the past eight, the Braun clan, though scattered as far from Idaho as Texas, has been bringing their friends home to jam a little in the mountains of Challis and eat some of Mama Braun's homemade lasagna or ham dinners.

Though a ticket to this reunion doesn't include all the same hospitality afforded friends and family, you won't feel like a stranger at the Braun Brothers Reunion Festival, which starts Thursday, Aug. 9, and runs through Saturday, Aug. 11. It's set in an intimate venue on the Challis golf course driving range with some of the best music being produced today in the genre called Red Dirt/Alternative Country-Rock/American. The name comes from the red dirt country of Oklahoma and Texas where some of country rock's best hail from.

This year's headliners include Texas music icon Jerry Jeff Walker of "Mr. Bojangles" and "Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother" fame—"one of my big influences," said patriarch Muzzy Braun. Other FOB's (friends of the Brauns) include Joe Ely and songstress Kelly Willis and her husband, Bruce Robison.

Cross Canadian Ragweed will be back in a different incarnation as Cody Canada and the Departed. The Damn Quails with their electric-guitar-driven solos and edgy vocals will appear, as will the elder Brauns, Gary and Muzzy, and Muzzy's sons Cody and Will of Reckless Kelly, and Micky and Gary of Micky and the Motorcars.

Saturday will feature newer acts like Sons of Bill out of West Virginia; Jeff Crosby and the Refugees, who played at Hailey's Sawtooth Brewery earlier this year; Cody Beebe and the Crooks; Jerry Jeff's son Django Walker with Jason Eady and Brian Keane; and Willis and Robison. Robison is a well-known writer for the Dixie Chicks and George Strait.

There will also be the guitar pull, where the Brauns pass around the guitar for one song, cold beer, camping, free parking, shuttle buses and homemade food for sale.

"It's a very laid-back environment and the music is the forefront," Muzzy Braun said. "We don't have arts and crafts. We have food and beer and music and we have a lot of it. It's mostly original music and the musicianship is really good."

He said Texans like coming here to get out of the heat and to hang out with friends, so recruiting musicians is never hard, especially because the audiences here are so appreciative.

"Our thing is fun, it's just fun."

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