Cody Canada & The Departed, Ray Benson, Kyle Park and William Clark Green recently added to the lineup!
On Sunday, May 15th, the 8th Annual Reckless Kelly Celebrity Softball Jam will take place at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas. The family friendly event bridges the worlds of music and sports as Reckless Kelly, their family, friends and fans enjoy an afternoon of “athleticism optional” softball followed by six hours of music in the outfield. This year’s event features, among others, Wade Bowen, Cory Morrow, Jamie Lin Wilson and Shinyribs, and will benefit various youth sports programs in Central Texas as well as the SIMS Foundation. In advance of the Jam, Cody Braun graciously took some time to talk about the day, the great organizations it supports and of course, who to put your money on to win it, his Sultans of Sing or brother Willy’s One Hit Wonders.
2016 marks the 8th year of the Jam which is pretty significant when some events don’t last past two or three years. Did you envision this as a yearly event when you guys started it?
Well, we were definitely going to try to do it for a couple of years and see if we could make it work, but the first year we had 6000 people attend. It was a huge success - which I don’t think we envisioned right from the get go - and every year after, it has gotten better and continues to be successful, which is great.
The Jam merges the worlds of sports and music in a very family friendly atmosphere. Was having a day that families could enjoy together something that was important to you when you founded it?
Yeah, it really was. You know we, and our musician friends, spend so much time on the road away from our families, that to be able to have an event where everyone can come to spend the whole day, play some baseball, play music in the outfield and have kids come down on the field and run around is great. It all really ties in incredibly well and makes it a fun event for the artists and the fans. It’s such a great way to give back to the community and have a lot of fun doing it.
The past couple of years, the funds raised from the Jam (along with assistance from Ryan Sanders Baseball and a Major League Baseball program called RBI — Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) were used to complete the renovation of a community ballpark, Mabson Field, in East Austin. Have you been able to go back and check in or see a game?
Yeah, I get down there as much as I can and it’s always incredible to see the job they did rebuilding it. I was talking with one of the coaches there and he said that last year when we had all the rain, it was one of the only fields the kids could play on because of the drainage system we put in. While most of the other fields in town were flooded, Mabson had lines of teams waiting to play on the field. It’s probably the most rewarding thing we have done over the years; to see it from the ground up and now, how it is making an impact on that community. It was especially amazing to see the look on those kids faces when they first came to the field, running around going, “Wow this is our field!”
Over the years, we have been able to do some really cool things with this event. Another highlight was working with the Miracle League to build two fields, one in Round Rock and one in San Antonio, for special needs kids. They built padded fields for kids who would otherwise never get to be a part of a sports team; and now they can get out there, play, hit and run. We’ve also done some work with fields and teams around Austin and since none of us in the band, except David, have kids, it’s a way for us to live vicariously through them and see them having fun.
It must do your heart good to see that and know the kids are enjoying it.
This year in addition to donating to youth sports, you are also supporting the SIMS Foundation.
This year SIMS is one of our main beneficiaries. We’ve done a few different benefits with them and have been involved in other way with them for years. We’ve seen them help so many of our friends, musicians and people in the industry, that we thought it would be cool to help them out and raise awareness for what they do, which is assist musicians in getting help with mental health, addiction, and different abuse issues. It’s a great organization that supplies help for a group of people that normally doesn’t have insurance or an option to get the help they need. We’re excited to have them on board this year.
That’s wonderful, what a great way to give back.
Will you also be having the Reckless Recycling Program this year?
Yes. You know, so many kids pick up a sport for a season or two and then either out grow their gear or move onto something else, and then have gear that's laying around going unused. What we’ve done is ask people to bring lightly used sports equipment, either kid or adult gear, to donate.
We also started asking people to bring musical instruments because it’s a similar thing - kids pick it up for year or so and get tired of it or move onto something else. So if anyone has any student instruments they don’t think they are going to use or need, we ask you to bring them so we can get them to kids who really need them. And we really take anything because I know a lot of music stores in town where I can get things repaired or tuned up. This year, we are working with Kids In A New Groove, an organization that helps foster kids get instruments because a lot of time they don’t have the funds to buy or rent the instruments they need to participate in music in schools.
That’s just tremendous and I'm sure it makes the kids incredibly happy and grateful.
Switching gears to the game, in addition to a lot of your musician friends, you guys have some pretty impressive athletes, like Roger Clemens, taking part this year.
This is his first year. I've been a huge fan of his since I was a kid and we have been nudging him to get down here for the past few years, but scheduling never worked out. We have him confirmed for this year and we’re really excited about that. Our buddy Josh Beckett, who recently retired, is coming back this year and so are Cat Osterman and Greg Swindell. It’s great how we have gotten to know so many terrific people who help out such great causes.
The teams are a mix of professional athletes and musicians. So, if all musicians want to be athletes, is there anyone on your team who has the goods?
We have a few good players. The Midnight River Choir guys are all great baseball players and our buddy John D. Hale, whose son is our bat boy, played baseball in college. A lot of us grew up playing ball, but to get out here and try to compete at the same level you did as a kid is just not happening (laughing). There will be a few pulled hammies and bumps and bruises for sure.
The game is described as “athleticism optional,” but is there any bit of competition on the field or is it all fun and games?
(Laughing), it’s getting down to the wire. My brother has always been more competitive and I’ve always been more of a jokester, but we haven’t won in four years so it’s time for us to step it up and win a game. I’m looking forward to laying it on pretty thick this year.
So if I were a betting woman, I should put my money on the Sultans?
I would bet on the Sultans this year. We’re gonna come in pretty serious about it, plus we have Cat Osterman, Roger Clemens, and Greg Swindell, so we’re looking pretty great!
Finally, you wear the #86 and Willy is #9. Any special significance behind those numbers?
(Laughing) Probably not what you would think. I’m not sure what Willy’s is, probably some Red Sox player, but for me, #86 is “you’re outta here.”
For all of the information on Reckless Kelly's Celebrity Softball Jam, including a full list of participants in the softball game and concert, visit the official website
Purchase tickets here
When: Sunday, May 15th
Where: Dell Diamond, Round Rock