For a handful of summers about 30 years ago, tourists who wandered into a large dancehall in Stanley, Idaho, witnessed a family tradition finding new life. Young and old sat shoulder-to-shoulder, taking a break from the town’s mountain hikes and river campgrounds to take in Muzzie Braun and the Boys — a local family band who’d made it to the Grand Ole Opry, effortlessly spouted cowboy poetry and Western swing at gatherings around the country, and featured Muzzie’s four young sons — precocious boys with rock-and-roll futures.
“There were kids running around, people dancing,” says Micky Braun, the youngest brother who first climbed on stage to join the family when he was about five years-old. “Gary and I’d get up and play a couple of songs, then we’d get off and the older brothers would stay up and play a couple more. It’s pretty funny, looking back on it.” He laughs a little, then adds, still smiling, “That’s how we got started playing.”
The Braun brothers never stopped. Big brothers Cody and Willy started Reckless Kelly, and Micky and Gary left Idaho for Austin and started Micky and the Motorcars, a road-dogging favorite whose nonstop tour for the last 17 years has defined not just the lives of the brothers, but also shaped Austin’s roots-rock resurgence that has played out over the last two decades. With their new album Long Time Comin’, the Motorcars cement their place as elder statesmen of that alt-country scene who have managed to master that ever-elusive blend of artistic familiarity and surprise.
Favorite song of Muzzie Braun and the Boys?
“Weekend Logger Blues”
First song you played with the band at age five onstage?
“I can’t remember for sure as I was only 5, but I would guess it was probably ‘You Are My Sunshine’.”
Fondest musical memories with your family growing up?
“I’d have to say being on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. It was my first trip to LA and first time performing on television.”
Any friendly competition between Reckless Kelly, Cody and Willy’s band, and yours?
“We have always gotten along great with our brothers’ band. We have toured together a ton and always have fun joking with each other, but never made it into a competition.”
What lead to Gary and your move from Idaho to Texas?
“We moved to Austin for a few reasons. Austin has a great music scene. It was a place that we could get gigs every night which helped us on a lot of levels. We also knew people there which helped us to get good opening slots and put us on the road with great bands that got us introduced to a very loyal fan base. It also was and still is just a really fun city to live in with lots of great writers and musicians.”
When did you add Joe, Bobby, and Pablo to the band?
“Joe has been playing bass with us since our original bassist decided to move on to other things which was 8 years ago. A year later our drummer of nine years, Shane Vannerson, decided to move on as well and that’s when Bobby joined the band. Our newest addition to the band is Pablo and he has been playing lead guitar, steel guitar and mandolin with us for going on a year now.”
How has your music evolved over the last 17 years?
“I think just like anyone and most bands you get older and the music gets more mature and your playing skills evolve as well. I feel like our songs are stronger as well.”
You said fans should listen to the Long Time Comin’ album as a whole. What theme/concept did you have in mind when you put the songs together?
“There’s not really a concept behind this record. We had a pretty nice amount of songs to pick through and we picked the songs that we felt went best together.”
For this album producer Keith Gattis used, in part, his studio players. What was it like working with different musicians to record?
“We had a great time working with Fred and Billy. It was a different style than what we had done in the past. We didn’t do very much pre-production so it kept the songs really fresh which I think was a wonderful approach.”
Which song on the album was the most difficult to write?
“Just speaking from the ones I wrote I’d say ‘ Left This Town.’ I was writing about friends that we have lost along the way and I wanted to get that point across without being too obvious. I want the listeners to make up there own story in all my songs.”
Backstory to the first single off the new album “Road To You”?
“’Road to You’ was written in Austin with my good friend Courtney Patton. She and I had been wanting to write for a long time. Finally she sent me the idea for the song and we got together and put it on paper. It’s mostly about being away from the person you’re trying to get back to.”
Favorite Texas venue?
“I think my favorite venue in Texas that we have played is the Moody Theater in Austin. Great stage, sound, lights and overall just top notch production.”
Would you say the song “Hold This Town Together” is saying you can go home again?
“’Hold This Town Together’ is saying that, yes, it’s great to always be able to go home, and thank you to everyone who keeps the smaller towns going.”
CD versus vinyl — for new fans, what are the differences between the two?
“CD verses vinyl is a personal thing. Right now it seems like it’s the hip thing to do. I like it because it’s warm and something I love is the liner notes and artwork that you get as well as the music.”
What message do you hope fans take away from “Thank My Mother’s God”?
“I hope people take whatever message speaks to them personally on ‘Thank My Mothers God.’ There’s a lot in that song you can walk away with.”
Guitars and songs at the ready, Micky and Gary hope most of all that their sprawling cross-continental fanbase connect with Long Time Comin’, a collection four years in the making. “If you can put your heart on your sleeve and say it, it’s the best medicine for people,” Micky says, reflecting on the album. “They can lock into it and enjoy the ride.”