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CD Reviews

Articles and Interviews

Chuck Mead bets on new music (Jun 2009)
When BR549 took a hiatus three years ago, frontman Chuck Mead found inspiration in another form of collaboration, as a staff songwriter for Ten Ten Music Group, a Nashville publishing house. All the songs on his first solo effort, the self-released "Journeyman's Wager," except for a George Harrison-penned Beatles cover, come from that fruitful stint. Mead says he still has a deal with Ten Ten, but he is no longer drawing a salary. "It was great because I learned how to sit in a... more
BR549 slims down, heats up with "Dog Days" (Jan 2006)
To classify the past three years of BR549's existence as tumultuous would be textbook understatement. Amazingly, not a trace of the band's recent upheaval is evident on their latest album, "Dog Days," their seventh overall and second for Dualtone. After losing long-standing bassist Jay McDowell and co-founder Gary Bennett in 2002 and enduring a long period of reassessment, the Nashville band's remaining members (guitarist/lead vocalist Chuck Mead, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Don Herron, drummer/-vocalist Shaw Wilson) decided to forge ahead with new members Geoff Firebaugh on bass and Chris Scruggs on guitar.... more
New label, new name, BR549 seeks elusive hit (Jul 2001)
The three years since BR549 released their last studio album, 1998's "Big Backyard Beat Show," have been eventful ones for the group. They've lost a label (Arista), gained a new one (Lucky Dog/Sony), gotten a new tour bus (purchased by the folks at Jack Daniels) and have recorded a fine new album out in late June, "This is BR549," including the album's first single, "Too Lazy to Work, Too Nervous to Steal." "I think we've made a record this time that can be played on the radio," says... more
The number to call remains BR5-49 (Jul 1998)
BR5-49's past is no secret: playing free gigs at Robert's on Lower Broadway in Music City with tips their pay, wearing thrift shop clothing on stage and belting out what some might consider a retro sound in rejuvenating songs from country's bygone era of Hank, Johnny Horton, Moon Mullican and a host of others. But don't tell that to Gary Bennett, one of the quintet's singers and songwriters. "I hate the word retro," says Bennett just a few weeks before the release of "Big Backyard Beat Show," the band's third disc for Arista. "God, I hate that word. It's almost a novelty thing. I moved to Nashville to be a songwriter."... more
Hitting the number with BR5-49 (Sep 1996)
BR5-49 bassist "Smilin'" Jay McDowell is perfectly aware of how some in Nashville would have liked to market the group. "We were having a great time (before signing with Arista) and some people would approach us with business cards from a small label we'd never heard of," he says. "And the only ones that seemed to interest us as far as a label we'd heard of, the first thing they'd say was, 'Well, we'll get you guys a keyboard player and maybe update your clothes a little.' And we realized right away that wasn't the reason we were doing it. " So why are they doing it?... more