Tuesday, January 14, 2014
BR5-49 Even If It's Wrong B/W Crazy Arms Arista 1996
You get outside of the few cities in Kansas and out into the Western portion of the state and country music dominates. It's about all you can find on the dial in the most remote areas. Yet, it's not like there are/were a ton of country artists from the state. There are some, Carson Robison who helped developed the genre comes to mind but, there aren't many huge names, Martina McBride (she's big, right?) and Chely Wright is cool. But, if you compare Kansas to a place like Oklahoma we pale in comparison.
Nevertheless, there has and will always be a substantial country scene in the state. A large bluegrass festival takes place every year and Manhattan, Kansas hosts the Nation's largest country music festival with the Country Stampede every year. Further, Kansas has always had a strong local scene. However, many of these talented locals don't venture far from the state, even in the 90's accailimed artists artists like Rex Hobart & the Misery Boys and Arthur Dodge & the Horsefeathers counldn't get crack the big time in Nashville.
Yet, in the early 1990's, Lawrence native Chuck Mead just said, "Fuck it." Instead of waiting for Nashville to come to him, he just moved. Brought his guitar and his songs and set up camp. What he ended up doing was forming the band BR5-49 along with a Pacific Northwesterner Gary Bennett. Mead brought in fellow Kansan Shaw Wilson to play drums and the rest of the band was pieced together with guys from the area and a friend of Bennett's from the Northwest.
The group was unabashedly retro both in music and looks. They dressed like honky tonkers from the 50's and excelled at Western Swing, Honky Tonk, and Country Rock, something Nashville cared little about in the 90's. Yet, despite shunning the Garth Brooks style, these guys made a name for themselves and became critical favorites for their strong songs and unwillingness to accept the current Nashville norms.
Both songs featured here are available on the band's self titled release from 1996. It's a bummer when 7"s place multiple tracks from the album on a 7", but considering there isn't much available on vinyl from this band, I'll take it. Side 1 is the Bennett original, "Even if it's Wrong," which is a solid honky tonk outing. Side 2 is the country and rock and roll classic, "Crazy Arms," which the group covers in traditional country style.
Even If It's Wrong
Chuck Mead and Gary Bennett on Jools Holland doing Crazy Arms