Joe Ely & Reckless Kelly: A Combo That Works!

Joe Ely drives Reckless Kelly old-school.

The e-mail that Reckless Kelly's publicist sent out said they started at 8pm, so imagine my surprise to find that they'd been onstage 45 minutes when I arrived at the Glenn at a quarter to the hour Thursday night. No loss, really. I was never that big a fan of RK's brand of country rock, and the two songs I heard last night - they opened with an acoustic, sit-down set - didn't leave much of an impression one way or another.

I was really there to see how the quintet's pairing with longtime fave Joe Ely would rate. Of late, the Flatlander hasn't performed nearly enough electric solo shows - the reason some call him the Bruce Springsteen of Texas - and I needed a healthy dose of his dynamic, muscular sound.

The combination not only worked, it was a sweaty success. Ely, who recently turned 60, obviously fed off the Braun brothers' youthfulness. He also drove them to places they might not ordinarily go. The 90-minute set was filled with Ely's crowd-pleasers and drew from the breadth of his career. Highlights included a soaring "Up on the Ridge," an amped up "Me & Billy the Kid," and an extended set-closing "Cool Rockin' Loretta" that showed off the Reckless Kelly boys at their brawny best. There were also a couple of nods to Townes Van Zandt, with a softly shuffled "Tecumseh Valley" and "White Freight Liner" presented as a broke-down ramble. Ely's true gift is that no matter how many times he's played these songs before, they always sound fresh and authentic, much of which is due to his alluring stage presence and the unstoppable musicality of his songs.

An encore that finished with a sing-along of Buddy Holly's "Oh, Boy!" left everyone sated. For me, Ely's comment early in the show that "this is all about good friends getting together and making music" rang especially true.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music
Roxy Music Airs Out Its Deep Cuts At Ragged-Edged Austin Show
Roxy Music Airs Out Its Deep Cuts At Ragged-Edged Austin Show
Even with weakened chops, the HoFers enjoy each other's company

Mike Clark-Madison, Sept. 22, 2022

A to Um... With Stephin Merritt
A to Um... With Stephin Merritt
A,E,I,O,U, and sometimes Y am I doing this?

Rob Cohen, May 6, 2015

More by Jim Caligiuri
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Her father's death and daughter's birth upped the stakes of the singer's finest work

April 14, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
Soft Boys, Youngbloods, Moby Grape, Brian Jones’ grandson, etc.

March 18, 2017


Music, Joe Ely, Reckless Kelly

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle