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I love this band. I've been a fan since I heard their third release, Under the Table and Above the Sun, in 2003. This live concert two-CD one-DVD release celebrates their tenth year together, and like all Reckless Kelly's past releases, kicks some serious rock and roll butt.
For those not up to speed on Reckless Kelly, they are a five-piece band based out of Austin, Texas. According to Cody Braun, their lead singer and principal songwriter, "We started out as a country band trying to be a little edgier with the rock and roll stuff, like Son Volt and Billy Joe Shaver's Unshaven album…we've gotten beyond that point now, where we have to rein it in to keep some of the country in there." Yup, this band rocks, without the need of smoke bombs, 12-foot wide video monitors, or a rotating $100,000 stage.
In the tradition of many country bands, at the band's core you find family. In Reckless Kelly's case it's the Braun brothers, Cody and Willy. Willy plays mandolin, fiddle, harmonica, and vocals while Cody plays rhythm guitar and handles all the vocal leads. David Abeyta on lead guitar, Jimmy McFeeley on bass, and Jay Nazz on drums complete the band's current roster. The Braun boys grew up playing in their father's band Muzzie Braun and the Boys. They opened for Merle Haggard, played the grand Ole Opry and appeared on the Tonight Show hosted by Johnny Carson. After a stint in Bend OR, the Braun brothers moved to Austin in 1996 where they developed a loyal following of fans including songwriter Joe Ely, who calls them, "My kind of band: Hell-raising, hard-playing, kick-ass songwriting, feet firmly in the present, but with an amazing knowledge of where it has all come from."
The live CD sound quality isn't going to win any audiophile "best sound" awards. It's raw and at times verges on downright nasty. Part of me wishes they had done a bit of post-concert "sweetening" just to warm up the sound a bit. The studio versions of "Break My Heart Tonight," and "Wiggles and Ritalin" sound much better. The DVD sound quality is somewhat improved over the CD with less upper midrange glare. I especially enjoyed the encore when the band "unplugs" with a pair of new Gibson J-45 guitars. Picture quality on the DVD is more than decent for a live concert. The wide-screen picture looks good even through a high-definition video projector.
I may never see Reckless Kelly in the flesh, but after watching and listening to Reckless Kelly Was Here I feel as if I've gotten a good dose of their live show without having to get the old spilt beer and stale cigarette smoke stink out of my clothes.