What: Reckless Kelly

When: 8 p.m. Thursday

Where:

Cost: $36.50 or $26.50 plus theater preservation fee in advance, $41.50 or 31.50 plus theater preservation fee day of show

Contact: towertheatre.org or 541-317-0700

Reckless Kelly played Bend for the first time in nearly 20 years last July.

The previous time the country rock band played in the city, it was based here. Brothers Willy and Cody Braun, sons of Idaho singer-songwriter Muzzie Braun, with whom they toured extensively while kids, started Reckless Kelly in Bend in 1996. That same year, after nine months of scraping by in the Pacific Northwest’s grunge- and alt-rock-dominated music scene, the group relocated to Austin, Texas, and has been based there ever since.

As band co-founder, fiddler, mandolinist and guitarist Cody Braun put it: “We skipped (Bend) over for too many years.”

“For quite a while, there really wasn’t a lot of places to play for our size,” he said from Austin. “And Bend has grown so much. I mean, I didn’t even recognize it when we were there last year; it was crazy. It’s changed a lot.”

The Braun brothers and the rest of the band — drummer Jay Nazz, bassist Joe Miller and fill-in guitarist Ryan Engleman (longtime guitarist David Abeyta left in February) — seem to be remedying that: The band will return to the Tower Theatre on Thursday.

While Bend has a healthy outlaw country scene with plenty of local artists and national acts heading to town — and historically has been friendly to country music — grunge took over the city along with the rest of the Pacific Northwest in the ’90s. At the time Reckless Kelly started, Americana or country rock weren’t the musical phenomenons they are today.

“Most of the music venues were pretty geared towards that — it was pretty heavy, pretty dark rock ’n’ roll,” Cody said. “So we had a really hard time finding places to play even in Portland and Seattle or outside of the Bend (area). It was a lot harder to find places that would hire a semi-country rock band. That wasn’t really a thing yet.”

Austin had a much friendlier scene for what Reckless Kelly was doing, with like-minded artists such as Robert Earl Keen, Guy Clark and Steve Earle pushing an edgier outlaw country sound in response to Nashville’s clean-cut country pop. The Brauns had been to Austin before when they were little kids but “didn’t remember anything about it,” basically moving to the city sight unseen.

“Austin had more of a scene, and you could play,” Cody said. “We had several weekly gigs where we would play Monday at one bar, Tuesday at the next bar and then had a couple of gigs on Wednesday. We were playing seven nights a week in Austin after only about a month — well, it took about a year to be playing that much, but we started finding gigs pretty quick.”

Plus, the move meant the group got to meet and work with Keen, Earle and its other country rock heroes. Earle played at the latest Braun Brothers Reunion in Idaho in August. Willy and Cody’s brothers, Micky and Gary, lead alt-country group Micky and The Motorcars, and also were part of the Braun family band, Muzzie Braun and The Boys, as kids.

During those early days playing with their father, the Braun kids learned about life on the road first-hand, and played on “The Tonight Show” twice in the ’80s. Muzzie Braun’s Western swing style, along with artists such as outlaw country rocker Pinto Bennett, influenced Reckless Kelly’s hard-edged sound, according to Cody.

“Pinto and those guys were doing the Americana, outlaw country thing, or country rock way early in the game,” Cody said. “In the ’70s before — there was Gram Parsons and a few people doing that. So having those influences definitely influenced everything that we do. Willy has always been more focused on the songwriting and just trying to write really good songs, and we just kind of try and push the envelope with the music, making it a little tougher.”

Most recently the band revisited its 2008 album, “Bulletproof.” A live album, “Bulletproof Live,” featuring performances from the band’s 10th-anniversary tour of the album, came out this summer.

“We just pulled tracks from different nights and tried to make sure we did different tracks from that record every night so we could put them all together, instead of doing the live record show where you play the whole thing top to bottom,” Cody said. “It’s hard to do and I don’t know, not every fan wants to come and just hear that record for the show.”

“Bulletproof” polarized fans at the time due to some of the more politicized songs including “American Blood,” which tackled the Iraq War. At the time, the war seemed to be fading from the news cycle, and main songwriter Willy Braun wanted to shine a light on the fighting that was still going on, Cody said.

Despite the lack of a permanent replacement for Abeyta, the group also recently finished recording its first studio album since 2016’s “Sunset Motel.” The as-yet-untitled record, featuring songs co-written by Willy and guitarist Jeff Crosby, who filled in for Abeyta earlier this year, will be a 20-song double-album, Cody said.

“There’s a lot of songs about America in it,” he said. “We’re trying to go for just really Americana, rock ’n’ roll with the whole thing. So it’s got a really fun vibe, and there’s some different themes and whatnot that I can’t spoil for you.”

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