Music writers and fans love categories. Musicians, on the other hand, are typically not so thrilled with pigeonholes and gratuitous generalizations. One might expect Cody Braun—who contributes fiddle, mandolin, harmonica and vocals to Reckless Kelly, the band he leads with his songwriting brother, Willy—to bristle when asked about so-called Texas music: How would you describe Texas music? Is Reckless Kelly a Texas music band?
But nope, not a bit of push back. Braun finds the label musically freeing: "It breaks down the walls," he says from a truck stop on the way to a show in Lubbock, which is exactly the town to which a band recently dubbed Best Texas Music Band by Rare magazine should be going. "It gives you the freedom to be able to do what you want to do, cover a much wider range." For Reckless Kelly, if that means taking a break from its crackerjack roots-rock during a show to do a short bluegrass set, a take on Richard Thompson's "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" or getting a little jammy, then so be it.
For Braun, the music of Reckless Kelly is a bit of a melting pot, a term he could also apply to its fans in Austin. "There's the guy wearing the Metallica T-shirt standing next to the guy in the cowboy hat standing next to the hippy standing next to an older couple," he says. Reckless Kelly not only bonds with those sort of Texan crowds, but it also gets on well with members of the Texas music community: Early on, Reckless Kelly played with Chris Wall. The band has recorded with Tex-mus expatriate Steve Earle and flatland hero Joe Ely, even backing him on a short tour. And its upcoming Bulletproof—the band's first release for local Yep Roc—was recorded at Willie Nelson's studio and features a song co-written by Willy Braun and Robert Earl Keen.
No, the members of Reckless Kelly don't run from the Texas music tag. Rather, they embrace it, and, it seems, epitomize it.
Reckless Kelly plays Cat's Cradle Monday, April 14. The music starts at 8:45 p.m., and tickets are $15. Mickey and the Motorcars open.