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BR5-49 represents the conscience of the new Nashville

Of course, Nashville seems to need to relearn that lesson every time it tastes some success. (Remember the "urban cowboy"? Wish you didn't?) Fortunately for Nashville, it's the same lesson that Texas has been trying to teach Music City since the first recorded yodel.

All of this makes BR5-49's second trip to Texas--the band played the South By Southwest festival in Austin in March--something like bringing coals to Newcastle. "We're on the same side as everyone else down there," asserts McDowell. "We had a great time during South By Southwest, and we wanted to get back there as soon as we could."

McDowell is "totally aware" of the fact that some Texans, especially in the Austin music scene, think of Nashville as the center of the evil empire. "I hope that people don't hold that against us. I hope people respect us for doing it right in the middle of all that."

As for whether the Nashville industry will co-opt BR5-49, Mead says, "That's a difficult question that remains to be seen. I dunno, but I think when it stops being fun and good and feeling right for us, that's the day that we say, 'Fuck it,' and go back to playing for tips. Nobody's going to take that away from any of us, because we've done it and know we can do it."

Despite the buzz, the tip jar will be coming with the band to Texas. "That way we feel that the people in the audience can be part of the show," says McDowell. "They can come up, and if we know the song they want to hear, we'll sure do it, as long as we get that green encouragement."

BR5-49 plays Sons of Hermann Hall May 30 and 31.

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