Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, October 23, 2016, 10:33 a.m.
Inexplicably, the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Giants are playing football in London. Not Ontario. Not Kentucky. England. It happens from time to time. Thanks to the miracle of television, I can have breakfast in London. This is usually the time for Formula One from Bahrain or somewhere. This afternoon F1 is racing in Austin. Football is this week’s Sunday-morning sport.
This has little to do with the ostensible purpose of this blog, which is an explanation of why Reckless Kelly is my favorite band and has been for more than a decade. The Austin band, probably not because the Grand Prix of the United States invaded and snarled their home base but it sure came in handy, played in Shelby, North Carolina, last night, and I made a day – and a night – of it.
After four hours’ sleep – writing about high school football on deadline always leaves me sleepless, and so I watched a PAC-12 game until 2 a.m. – I stopped at the nearby Pilot for a mug of coffee that was about the size of a 7-Eleven Big Gulp but too hot to do so – and drove to Boiling Springs – not above Spartanburg in South Carolina but above Gaffney across the line in North Carolina – to write about a game between the homestanding Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb and the Owls of Kennesaw State.
The Owls won, 47-39, but, after trailing, 40-21, at halftime, Gardner-Webb ran out of downs twice in the fourth quarter needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion they never got. My story ran this morning in the Marietta (Georgia) Daily Journal.
The last time I sat in a Gardner-Webb press box, it was on the other side of Spangler Stadium, which would be difficult to identify now if one was going by a photograph of its earlier incarnation.
There. I’ve frittered away most of five paragraphs without getting back to why Reckless Kelly is so great.
Well, to begin, see for yourself. Watch this YouTube video.
I would be hard-pressed to identify my favorite singer, even if I disqualified the 80 percent or so who are now dead. Most of the singers still singing have bands.
A small part of my nearly 10-year-old music book, True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed, concerned Reckless Kelly, but it didn’t become my favorite band when I wrote the book. I wrote about Reckless Kelly because it was already my favorite band.
And you say you’ve never heard of this wild, western, windblown band? Reason number one is you, like I, don’t live in Texas. The Lone Star State has its own, lone, brand of music and an accompanying culture. Here’s a Dire Straits cover.
I did a modest favor for the band not too long ago, and the drummer, Jay Nazz, invited me to the Don Gibson Theater to watch and mingle. I mingled quite a while, and I’m acclimated to going to bed at 2 a.m. now.
Everything worked rather perfectly. I had covered the Kennesaw State-Furman game for the Daily Journal about a month ago. On Tuesday, the sports editor wrote me, noted that the Owls were playing at Gardner-Webb and asked if I was available to cover it. I looked at the schedule. Noon start. Perfect. Plenty of time to write. I picked up a gig, man.
According to my trusty phone, it is 9.5 miles from Spangler Stadium in Boiling Springs to Don Gibson Theater in Shelby.
Here’s a video of Reckless Kelly’s marvelous version of Richard Thompson’s “1952 Vincent Black Lightning.”
I did have time to kill when I got to Shelby. I parked across the street from the theater for a while, listening to Alabama decimate Texas A&M. Fatigue started to set in, and I suppose I could have found a place to sell me another tub of coffee, but, strictly by random, I discovered that a place called Newgrass Brewing Company was located conveniently nearby. A visit there perked me right up and undoubtedly enhanced my enjoyment of the rest of the evening.
Kids, let the record note that I drank no more beer. By the time midnight closed in and I was ready for the trek home, I could have been no more sober had I been to the Newgrass Milkshake Company, and milk would have made me sleepier.
I saw friends there, some I expected and some I didn’t. Two great friends joined me, but they had to leave when the concert ended. I talked a long time with Cody Braun, and it’s still a mystery why I can’t remember the details of the time I spent with him and his brother, Willy, during the time leading up to the publication of True to the Roots. Incredibly, I was able to find a copy of my own book, on the shelf that hides the painting I did when I was 13 years old, on the edge of the living room. The book only has part of a chapter on Reckless Kelly. I quoted Cody and remember the conversation, but I can’t remember where it was that I interviewed them. It’s not in the book, either. It could have been Texas. It could have been Charlotte. I’m guessing that I didn’t get it worked out until the book was almost completed, and that’s why there isn’t a whole chapter on the band. It seems like yesterday and a long time ago at the same time.
What makes Reckless Kelly my favorite band is that everything – everything – resonates. I dig the songs. In some ways, the Braun brothers’ background – traveling around as kids, playing with their cowboy singer father, Muzzie – reminds me of my own boyhood sojourns with my dad, who was an auctioneer. Another reason is that their covers are invariably songs that I really like, too. They seem like songs I would sit down and try to learn how to play.
The older Braun brothers, along with Nazz, lead guitarist David Abeyta and bassist Joe Miller, make up Reckless Kelly. The evening began with the younger brothers, Micky and Gary, whose band is called Micky and the Motorcars.
I’m trying to think of a family I might find more entertaining. The Kennedys? The Barrymores? The Carradines? The Brontes? The Louvins? The Everlys? The Avetts? The Boones of baseball? The Mannings of football?
I can’t think of one. I’m not objective. It’s my favorite band, man.
They gave me the brand-new CD, Sunset Motel. I gave them a copy of one of my books. I’ve been listening to it while writing this. It sure beats the Rams and the Giants in London. Sunset Motel got me home last night, barreling through the night in my trusty pickup truck.
Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs.
Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.
Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.
Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.
The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.
The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.
Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.
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