These are very good times for Reckless Kelly. With the release of "Bulletproof" in 2008, the Austin-based roots-rockers known for the integrity of their musical approach, the hard-core energy of their live shows and the fierce loyalty of their fans, turned up the intensity on their career. The album quickly became their biggest seller, hitting the Billboard 200 and reaching the Top 25 of the magazine's Top Country Albums chart. It contained their first #1 on both the Texas and Americana charts, "Ragged as the Road," and earned them a nomination as Best Band or Duo at the 2009 Americana Music Awards, a show that put them on stage with the country's best at the Ryman Auditorium. It also contained "American Blood" and "God Forsaken Town," widely regarded songs that link them to a working-class tradition of socially conscious music that stretches from Woody Guthrie to Bruce Springsteen.
The fact that "God Forsaken Town" was written by Reckless Kelly singer/songwriter Willy Braun with Robert Earl Keen is symbolic of the fact that the band's standing among its peers has never been higher. The respect they've earned from everyone from Steve Earle to Kevin Welch can be summarized by Joe Ely, who called 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."
It is praise that reverberates especially well in the context of their latest work. With new album "Somewhere in Time," the band digs deep into its roots, revisiting the music of Pinto Bennett, who with his band the Famous Motel Cowboys influenced a generation of musicians in the Northwest and served as a mentor and idol to Willy and his brother Cody, whose fiddle, mandolin, harmonica and vocal work help propel Reckless Kelly. In the company of their bandmates, David Abeyta on lead guitar and lap steel, Jay Nazz on drums, and Chris Schelske on bass, they explore their country influences and re-introduce Bennett's music to a new generation of fans while placing their indelible, rock-edged stamp on it.
When the Randy Rogers Band’s last project debuted as the most-downloaded country album on iTunes, plenty of the industry “insiders” on Music Row were left scratching their heads: Who are these guys?
The Nashville elite may not have known about the five-piece band, but much of America already did. Rolling Stone magazine ranked them alongside such artists as U2 and the Stones in its list of Top 10 Must-See Artists in the summer of 2007. They earned $2.5 million—a staggering total for a still-developing act—on the tour circuit in a single year. Willie Nelson, the Eagles, Gary Allan and Dierks Bentley all picked them as opening acts for their concerts. And more than 2,200 people showed up and bought the bands album at an appearance at Wherehouse Music.
The fans’ exuberance was shared by USA Today, which praised the band for having “loads of grit, swagger and heart.”
The Randy Rogers Band built its audience by combining forces: It’s a dynamic live act centered around songs that fit the rowdy, party vibe of the concert circuit, but their songs also say something.