Reckless Kelly's muse

from Abilene Reporter News on

Reckless Kelly fulfilled a dream in February with the release of the group’s most recent album, “Somewhere In Time.”

Not because it is the sixth studio album by the five-piece band from Austin-by-way-of-Idaho or because it continued a streak of Billboard charting albums.

It’s because the alternative-country-rock band finally recorded an album paying homage to one of their favorite singer-songwriters and fellow Idahoan, Pinto Bennett.

“I think people dig it. The songs are great, it’s just up to us not to mess them up you know,” said Reckless Kelly lead singer Willy Braun. “It’s sold well, and the crowd digs it and the critics have had some nice things to say about it, which is kind of cool too.”

It will be a Braun family reunion of sorts tonight at the Lucky Mule Saloon, 1850 South Clack St., when the Lucky Mule/99.7 KBCY free summer concert series brings Reckless Kelly (which also includes Cody Braun on fiddle, mandolin and vocals) and Micky and the Motorcars (featuring the younger half of the Braun brothers, Micky and Gary Braun) together.

The band has been talking about recording an album memorializing Bennett tunes for the last five to 10 years.

“The timing was finally right and by the time we got around to doing it we were ready,” Braun said.

Bennett is a singer-songwriter many have not heard of.

According to a biography on, Bennett was born in 1948 in Mountain Home, Idaho, and worked in the ‘60s in the livestock industry before joining the Navy. In the ‘70s he began his musical career and never looked back, touring the U.S., Great Britain and Europe with “The Famous Motel Cowboys.”

Though the band is no longer touring, Bennett currently takes to the road as the more acoustic Trio Pinto.

It is Bennett’s uniqueness that really strikes a chord with Braun.

“He has always done it his own way, which is kind of what we have always tried to do, so he is our hero in that sense,” Braun said. Bennett’s songs have got a lot of depth and are about real people and real stories that he has lived through, Braun said.

The hardest part of the project was picking the songs because Bennett has a “whole lifetime of great tunes” to select from. Therefore, the band started with a list of about 40 songs, then took it to 30 songs, and 20 songs and eventually whittled it down to the 12 songs they recorded for the album.

“Once we figured out which ones we wanted to do, it was pretty easy to record them because we have pretty much ... we have been singing along to them in the pickup truck for 20 years,” Braun said.

There was not much of a need to do much song arrangement outside of a few solo’s and other small things here and there, opting instead to leave most things as Bennett had recorded them and just put the Reckless Kelly stamp on it.

Some members of Bennett’s Famous Motel Cowboy’s stopped in to be featured on the album and later had good things to say about the album.

“That was really important to us too because we did their tunes,” Braun said.

Not only was the Motel Cowboy Band featured and the album engineered by Bennett’s longtime engineer and guitarist Rob Matson, but Bennett himself hung out in the studio for four or five days offering advice, pointers and even correcting Braun on some words he had gotten wrong.

“He had a ball in the studio and we loved having him there,” he recalled.

When it came time for Bennett to sing on “Thelma” and “Pinto Bennett She Wrote” he nailed it in one take.

“And we made him do it one more time just because we wanted to hear it,” Braun laughed. “ ... It was really, really cool to see a guy who is really, really good at his craft go in there in the studio and knock it out of the park.”

Braun himself was able to take away some lessons from the project, especially after learning some of the songs. He was surprised at how complex some of the melodies and arrangements were and the way they work, even though Bennett and the album do have some honky-tonk sounding tunes too.

“And it kind of inspired me for the next time I start writing,” Braun said.

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