'Reckless' thriving

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— When other boys were playing baseball in the street or teasing little girls, Cody and Willie Braun were on the road with their family band touring the United States in the late 1980s.

And although they're finding time to play and charm the girls now, the road still is considered home.

"We've had more vans than we've had guitar players," Cody said of being on the road in a van for most of his life.

In 1995, the two brothers who had lived and breathed Western swing, joined bass player Chris Schelske in Bend, Ore., to form what would become the country rock 'n' roll roots band of Austin, Texas - Reckless Kelly.

After hearing the Australian tale of Ned Kelly, a man in the 1800s who stole from the rich to give to the poor, the band decided that his nickname, Reckless Kelly, would fit perfectly for this group.

After Schelske worked in his brother's band, the nucleus of Reckless Kelly joined with drummer Jay Nazz in a drunken coincidence and later, guitarist David Abeyta.

Bringing the sweet sounds of country and the rip-roaring vibrations of rock 'n' roll together, Reckless Kelly began touring the United States once again, but this time under their own rules.

While being home-schooled and having mom on the road, Cody said he thought about playing typical kid sports, but the view from the road looked too wide open.

"We experienced so much more than any kids our age," Cody said. "We were touring around the country; most people don't ever get to do that. It was a good trade-off, I think."

Muzzie Braun and the Boys, the family band, made an appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson and performed at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

Cody recalled a time when the family band played Steamboat Springs about 12 years ago. Kip Attaway, an old friend of his dad's, also was playing here and got the family ski passes for Saint Patrick's Day. With no ski gear, Cody and Willie were dressed in leather jackets, Levis and had the best day skiing ever.

"The snow was so great," Cody said. "We love just getting to see new places and meeting new people."

Austin, Texas, became home to Reckless Kelly in 1997, with Willie on lead vocals and guitar, Cody on the fiddle, Schelske on bass, Nazz on drums and Abeyta on guitar. The band's country and rock 'n' roll combo style fits the Lone Star State.

While the band continues its way to stardom, having their own record label and playing more than 250 gigs a year hasn't hurt their reputation. Paying for a record up front is a little difficult for the band, but the payoff is worth every cent, said Cody.

"Being on stage when the crowd is wild, that's the most stimulating," Cody said. "It's hard playing rock music on a fiddle but we're developing our own sound."

A more mature sound that sticks to country roots is what Willie and Schelske hope to attain while writing the majority of the band's music. Songs from the three records they've recorded, and a handful of covers create an energy in any mountain, beach or desert town from Florida to California.

"We're already playing songs we've been working on for the next album. The best time to try new stuff is on stage to see if the people like it," Cody said.

The new album scrambles the band's root rhythms, but blends a bit of sauce to spice up the hot Texas turbulence.

"We try to play more to the rock side. We're kind of a retro country, but we try to stick to the country sound," Cody said.

While the road may be home, Reckless Kelly, their family, friends and significant others find it hard to part when bills need to be paid and the road is calling.

"It's a challenge every day," Cody said. "Late nights and long drives every day it's a challenge being on the road."

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