- The Washington Times - Monday, March 1, 2004


Tangled in the Pines


Hank Williams must be gazing down with pride that, 51 years after his death, people are still making honky-tonk music. Songwriter Chuck Mead and his band — complete now with two new members — have kept the honky-tonk faith with BR549’s fifth full-length recording.

Wearing their influences on their sleeves, BR549 rips through a dozen new songs with likely country titles: “It’s Way Too Late (to Come Home Early Now)” and “I’m All Right (for the Shape I’m in).”

With a name drawn from the recurring Junior Samples used-car-salesman sketch on “Hee Haw” and a set list of good-time, playful, danceable country songs, it’s hard to know whether to take BR549 seriously or with a grain of salt. Washington area listeners can decide for themselves when the band appears Saturday at the 9:30 Club with the Mavericks.

In “She’s Talking to Someone (She’s Not Talking to Me),” Mr. Mead summons up the best vintage crooning this side of a secondhand store bin of Ed Ames on dusty vinyl. He pulls it off, too.

“Moving the Country,” which deals obliquely with the downside of the music business in Nashville, Tenn., draws darkly on the kind of pop-rock guitar riffs that fill current country records.

The band mates reel them off, song after entertaining song — and like a surgeon-general’s warning, BR549 dutifully tells listeners that fun’s fun, but enough’s enough. “That honky-tonkin’ lifestyle,” they sing toward the end of the disc, “will get the best of you.”

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