It seems that all BR549 has lost over the past 10 years are the group’s co-leader Gary Ben-nett, bassist Jay McDowell and the “-” that used to appear be-tween the 5 and 4 in its name. The band has dissolved twice and reformed that many times, but “Dog Days” certainly will please the long-time fans and possibly attract a few new ones.
Three of the original band remain, Chuck Mead, Don Herron and Shaw Wilson. But the signature sound of the band is continued in the writing and singing of Mead and the multi-instrument stylings of Herron, who plays no less than 8 instruments on these 11 tunes.
Mead had a hand in writing all but two of the songs, one of them the testament to the lack of chart success penned by Dave Edmunds, “A-1 on the Jukebox.”
Mead combined writing skills with the legendary Guy Clark for “Lower Broad St. Blues.” That song, along with most of the others here, is a throwback to traditional country, but that’s consistent with the group’s aim from day one. There’s even some spicy bluegrass on the album’s lid-lifter “Poison.”
Through changes in personnel, breakups, a change of labels and more than a few “Dog Days,” BR549 has remained committed to taking what’s always been good about country music and turning it into their own brand of craziness and fun. The band continues to be more true to its own vision and history than that of any genre.