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Reckless Kelly's latest album covers songs by hero

Michael Corcoran
Reckless Kelly (Chris Schelske, left front, David Abeyta, Jay Nazz, Cody Braun and Willy Braun, back) took the songs from the playlist of Idaho musician Pinto Bennett (back right) for the country rock band's latest release,'Somewhere in Time.'

Reckless Kelly, that hard-touring, country rock band entering its 15th year, released its best-ever selling album in 2008 with "Bulletproof," which sold 6,000 copies in its first week. So what do they do for a follow-up? They release an album of songs by an old-timer from Idaho that no one more than 100 miles out of Boise has ever heard of.

"Somewhere In Time" finds the band covering Pinto Bennett of the Famous Motel Cowboys, whose heyday in the 1970s was right around the time R.K.'s lead singer, Willy Braun, was born.

"Pinto and the Motel Cowboys were a huge influence on me and Willy," says fiddle player Cody Braun, whose father, Muzzy Braun, was a contemporary, the Jerry Jeff Walker to Bennett's Ray Wylie Hubbard. "They were the first live band that really knocked us out, but the older we got the more we loved the songwriting." Cody Braun said Reckless Kelly had talked about doing an album of Bennett's songs for 10 years, and after touring steadily to promote "Bulletproof," the band was in the mood to do a stop-gap project with the songs fully formed before stepping into the studio.

"We had our work cut out trying to sell our label (Yep Roc) on the concept," Cody Braun says. "We wanted to make it clear that this wasn't a tribute record. It's still a Reckless Kelly record, but we're doing someone else's songs."

Bennett and fellow former Motel Cowboys Sergio Webb and Rob Matson came down to Austin to guest on a couple tracks at Cedar Creek Recording studio in South Austin. "Pinto is a wild guy, a true artist," says Cody Braun. "And he's got great stories. This was by far the funnest album we've ever made."

Although there are scattered rockers, "Somewhere in Time" is also the most country & western — heavy on the western — album the band's made since their days as the pre-teen Little Braun Boys. "It's been cool going back to our roots," says Cody. Another nod to the past is the return of original bassist Chris Schleske after eight years away.

"The band's in a really good place right now," Cody says. "We'll get to work soon writing songs for our next album, but for now we just love playing these songs."

Reckless Kelly plays an in-store at Waterloo Records Tuesday at 5 p.m. They'll also appear at Antone's Friday night.