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Picks and Pans Review: This Is Br549

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BR549 (Lucky Dog)

This roots-conscious Nashville quintet’s raucously contagious, garage-band energy suggests a steel-cage match between the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Smash Mouth. The band features Don Herron, an accomplished player on dobro, fiddle and mandolin as well as steel guitar, ripping through a songbook that leaps from the Everly Brothers’ “The Price of Love” to neo-rockabilly ace Nick Lowe’s “Play That Fast Thing (One More Time).” Less tradition-minded but equally entertaining is James Hardie McGehee’s “Psychic Lady,” a less than reverent look at the sisters of TV charlatanism.

BR549 (the name alludes to a phone number comic Junior Samples used in a Hee-Haw skit) benefits from the talents of two lead singers, Gary Bennett and Chuck Mead, who evoke such past masters as Ray Price and such contemporaries as Travis Tritt. A Nashville sensation in the mid-’90s thanks to its zesty live performances, BR549 has grown into a driving studio band.

Bottom Line: Think of BR549 as code for “terrific young band”