Held in beautiful Challis, Idaho in August, the Braun Brothers Reunion is three days of music featuring esteemed artists from the Texas, Americana and Red Dirt scenes. This year, the BBR will be held from August 11-13th and will feature sixteen plus artists performing on an outdoor stage in an idyllic setting. In our continuing series featuring the artists performing at this year's event, singer-songwriter (and Idaho native) Jeff Crosby took the time to speak about his Idaho roots, what makes the BBR so special and more.
First off, you recently had a serious health scare [Crosby was hospitalized from an acute virus that attacked his heart]. How are you feeling?
Yeah I had a weird month but I’m feeling great now and back on the road with Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons. The whole thing was so weird. I was doing these gigs in Mexico with Jerry Joseph and a few days after I got back I felt pretty sick. I went to the hospital and I came back with some virus that ended up giving me heart issues [He spent 36hours in the ICU and suffered a minor heart attack]. I really thought I was going to die because I never had anything that serious ever happen to me. It has definitely changed the narrative of the next record for sure.
It’s good to hear that you’re doing better.
Going back a bit, you grew up in Idaho, how did that shape you musically?
I’m from Donnelly which is two hours south of Boise and the one thing I love about being from there is that my influences were very limited, so I grew up mostly hearing music from the locals playing old folk music and my parents record collection. My mom and dad were into the music of the 60’s and 70’s like Jackson Browne, Elton John, Tom Petty and all that Laurel Canyon stuff. All of that music was engrained in me and I didn’t really listen to a lot of what was contemporary at the time.
As for playing music, that just naturally happened. I started playing around town when I was fifteen or sixteen and just kind of went with it. At seventeen, I played in a band with some local guys I admired who kind of took me under their wing. I hopped in a van with them to play music and it just happened, like it was meant to be.
Singer-songwriter Scott Low has been writing and performing for a long time, dabbling in many genres including punk, jazz, bluegrass, rock, blues, folk, and Americana. Playing over 200 shows a year, the Georgia native is gearing up to release his full-length debut, The New Vintage, on June 17th. Prior to its release, Low graciously took the time to talk about the record, going from a sad bastard to writing hopeful songs and more.
You studied jazz and have been in blues and folk bands, so how did you end up a solo Americana singer-songwriter?
I kind of began here when I was real young with Dylan, Hendrix, and Buddy Guy. Eventually, I got into jazz and went to school for that, but I got bored and wanted to have more interaction and attachment to my hobby. I started playing guitar in Betsy Franck’s band and as I watched her do her thing she gave me a foundation for songwriting. I actually didn't start singing and songwriting until I started my band Efren. I loved that band but there were so many changing members it began to feel like the Eagles where I was the only original member. So I decided to go it alone and make a solo record.
That record, The New Vintage, is releasing June 17th and you have said is you best record yet.
This is the first LP where I went into the studio with twenty or so songs and said, “Okay, let’s lay these things down and hopefully we get a record.” I’ve only been writing for six or seven years, but I feel like I started to figure it out. And seeing these other guys like Sturgill Simpson, Isbell, and Stapleton - the latter two are guys I've played shows with - lay out this template, be successful and win Grammys without being on the radio, was encouraging. I was already in that Americana ballpark and decided to just try and make a record that might turn some heads.
From jam band Toast to contemporary country and Americana, Jerry Castle has ventured down various musical avenues. With his latest album, Not So Soft Landing, the singer-songwriter is changing course once again - this time delving into ethereal, atmospheric rock - in large part due to time spent utilizing sensory deprivation tanks, an experience which has impacted not only his songwriting, but other areas of his life as well. In advance of the album's June 24th release, Castle took the time to talk in depth about his experience in the tank, how it shaped the album and more.
I’ve heard of sensory deprivation and floating, but have never met anyone who actually experienced it. What spurred your interest?
I started doing it because I had been working on meditating, like sitting around with my eyes closed, and was doing a pretty poor job of it. I didn’t feel any more relaxed or chilled out, but then I was listening to the Joe Rogan podcast and he had talked about the meditative state and sensory deprivation and the ways they helped him creatively. So I googled it and found out there was a place ¾ mile from my house and I thought, “It’s so close, of course, I should try it.” I have to tell you though, the first time was pretty miserable – it’s very unnerving to be that isolated with your thoughts, floating in Epsom salts in the complete dark where you can’t see your hand in front of your face and you can’t hear. I had a really hard time with the incessant chatter in my head and of course, you inevitably think, “I wonder if anybody died in one of these.” So I went and read more about it and heard another podcast where someone had floated and said their first time was miserable but it got significantly better because you know what you’re walking into, so I went back and did it again.
Since then, I’ve floated a lot especially during the writing and recording of the record. The Theta state - experiencing the actual feeling of completely letting go and nothingness – is really key. It takes about twenty minutes to get into that state and then you probably stay there for another twenty minutes [the entire float is ninety minutes] and the rest of the time I learned that I could kind of drive it a little bit rather than being victim to whatever thoughts came up. In terms of writing, I could bring up a song I’d been working on and think about it almost like a puzzle trying to solve itself because there’s none of life’s clutter in the way.
Floating has not only helped me with songwriting, but has definitely influenced my whole life. I’d say anyone’s analyzation of me prior to floating was that I was a pretty Type A person and floating really helped chill me out. I’ve been guilty of trying to control every single thing I do and the reality is you do have to have the drive to do things, but that’s not always the healthiest way to get the best results; I try to enjoy the ride a little bit more.
There may be no family name to come out of Idaho that is more synonymous with music than Braun. Patriarch Muzzie Braun father’s Eustacious “Musty” Braun moved his family to Twin Falls, Idaho, in the ’50s to make a living playing the Nevada lounges. Muzzie himself started playing in bands, and releasing albums, with his own brothers while in high school. Eventually, Muzzie had a family of four boys with wife JoAnn. The family toured the country as Muzzie Braun and the Boys, even appearing on the Tonight Show - twice- in the late 1980's. As time went on, those boys moved away and found success in two Texas-based bands of their own. Willy and Cody front the wildly popular Reckless Kelly and Micky and Gary formed the equally beloved Micky & The Motorcars. Every year, the family comes together in the town of Challis near the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho for the Braun Brothers Reunion. Founded by Muzzie and his brothers, the BBR is a three-day festival that celebrates music and features esteemed artists from the Texas, Americana and Red Dirt scenes in a spectacular outdoor setting. In the first part of a series spotlighting the artists of the BBR, founder Muzzie Braun graciously took the time to speak all about the festival and more.
Music has been a tremendous part of your life from a young age. Do you get to play out much anymore?
I do play out, but not as much as I used to. We live around some resort areas in central Idaho and I play in those areas as well as at private parties, weddings and stuff like that. In the Summer, I have this really cool gig at a ranch where I hang out on the porch and play acoustic guitar, which is really nice.
Has the music scene in Idaho changed over the years?
There’s a lot more of a music scene than there used to be. There are more people interested in seeing live music and more venues so that is a good thing. Boise is the biggest city and probably overall has the best, most eclectic music scene. Ketchum [in Sun Valley] is a resort and always has a lot going on, allowing them more diversity in terms of venues, festivals and events for people to play at.
Seattle-based country newcomer Kassidy Lynne released her debut EP, Carolina Water in December of 2015. The EP features three songs Lynne wrote alongside Jordan Pruitt, including her current single "Carolina Water." Lynne kindly took the time to talk about her influences, balancing school and music and more.
Many people your age, or older even, don’t know what they want to do with their lives. Being that you are only fifteen years old, when did you know you wanted to do music?
From about the time I was nine, I fell in love with Hannah Montana. I grew up watching her television show and wanted to be her. Then I found Taylor Swift and she was everything I wanted to be. I knew that music was what I wanted to do and nothing was going to stop me.
When did you being writing?
I started writing with Jordan Pruitt about two years ago. She also is my vocal coach, helping me with much of the technical stuff. I am also trying to learn guitar; it’s very difficult but hopefully I’ll be good enough to play in front of people soon. I’m getting there!
How do you balance school, activities, and music?
It’s a lot of work, but I get through it. I’m currently in the ninth grade at the local public school, and I also have voice lessons twice a week in the morning, drivers ed, volleyball and homework to balance. I figure it all out though, I got it down.
Singer-songwriter and Oklahoma native Jared Deck released his self-titled debut this past May 6th. The intensely personal work was the first time Deck allowed himself to truly open up with his songwriting and it has been earning him accolades from publications including Rolling Stone and American Songwriter. Deck graciously took the time to talk about finally being ready to make a record, his influences and more.
Congratulations on the album, which has gotten a lot of good press out of the gate. Are you pleasantly surprised by that?
It’s interesting because I felt like the record was good, but I didn’t really have high expectations of what other people would think. I’m one of those people who just says, “Let’s put it out and see what happens.” I recently got asked in an interview if the good press was validating, I don’t feel it's validating my music but rather it’s validating all of the work I’ve put into it - and I’m incredibly grateful for it. That said, I was thrilled with some of the feedback, which has been really encouraging. There was one comparison to Chris Stapleton and my immediate thought was, “Man I have to step up my game!” (laughing).
Many artists say that you have a lifetime to write your first record, but it seems that you’ve lived a couple lifetimes already having experienced hardship and having worked numerous jobs including grocery store clerk, in the oilfields and even a run for political office. So, was music something you always wanted to pursue or did that come later?
Yeah, it feels like it. I’ve been playing in bands and writing songs since I was fourteen years old, so it was there all along. When I started out I was the world’s worst songwriter, I was really bad. I knew I wanted to say something but I didn’t know how or what to say. I got to be decent, but it took me a long time to grow into what I hope is a more mature songwriter.
And during that time, music was something I pursued and failed at a couple times, but I never really had the focus I have now. If you asked me ten years ago if I was ready to put this on a bigger stage, I would have said yes, but I wouldn’t have been correct.
Held in Challis, Idaho in August, the Braun Brothers Reunion is three days of music featuring esteemed artists from the Texas, Americana and Red Dirt scenes. This year, the BBR will be held from August 11-13th and will feature sixteen plus artists, including Cody Johnson who is gearing up to release his highly anticipated new album, Gotta Be Me. Johnson kindly took the time to call from the road to talk about playing the festival, Gotta Be Me, and more.
This will be your first time playing the BBR. How did you come to be a part of it and why did you want to participate?
They asked me to play, but honestly they didn’t really say anything to me personally. I found out that we picked it up and when I saw them at Steamboat it was like “Thanks for having us.” (laughing) All of the Braun brothers are stand up guys who have always treated me well. They’ve always been a fan of mine as much as I have been a fan of theirs and I’m really excited to play the festival.
It’s a whole new world for us because we’ve never played the BBR or the state of Idaho before. And to be asked to play at this event is something else. It’s one of those things when you’re a younger guy in the industry you always hear about and one day you finally get to be a part of it and it becomes something that you can look forward to from year to year.
Held in Challis, Idaho in August, the Braun Brothers Reunion is three days of music featuring esteemed artists from the Texas, Americana and Red Dirt scenes. This year, the BBR will be held from August 11-13th and will feature sixteen plus artists, including William Clark Green, who is gearing up to release his first live album which was recorded this past January at Gruene Hall. Green kindly took the time to talk about playing his first BBR, the upcoming record and more.
There are so many festivals in Texas alone, what made you want to venture to Idaho to play the BBR?
I begged them to play the festival! I can’t remember exactly how it went down, but I have been wanting to play the BBR for a while and when they asked, I said I’d love to do it. I’ve been to Idaho before when we played Boise with Josh [Abbott] a few years, but never Challis. I’ve heard it’s a beautiful area and an amazing festival and we’re excited to play it. We play Thursday, so Friday and Saturday we have off and are going to stay, hang out and relax. I’m looking forward to it.
The majority of the artists are well known in and around Texas. Is there anyone who is new to you or you are looking forward to seeing?
I don’t know the lineup 100%, but I’m presuming if they’re playing that festival, I’m a big fan of theirs. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone.
The BBR initially started out as a one-day event before turning into a three-day event. For the past few years, you have hosted a Street Party in Lubbock, is that something that you would like to see grow?
I hope so. We had two thousand people for the last one, which is pretty awesome, and every year we have had to broaden the perimeter to let more people in, so eventually we’re going to run out of room - or hopefully we do - and then who knows what will happen.
We’re trying to find ways to expand it including bringing in bigger acts as well as putting up and coming Lubbock bands on the bill, which is something that is extremely important to me.