Underbelly noir | ParkRecord.com

Underbelly noir

Jay Meehan, Park Record columnist

Much to the appreciation of those already in line outside the Salt Lake club, it took a few minutes for the seven of us to extricate ourselves from the cab. The crux move in untying our knot was to reposition the right leg inside the knee-length boot belonging to the female occupying the lap of the gent directly behind the driver.

Until we figured out how and where to relocate the leg, the five of us in the back seat were trapped. But moving it in any direction without snapping both the fibula and tibia proved problematic. Having already spent dinner increasing our pain threshold, however, we felt that if we could just hook it on the rear of the front seat, we could begin to unfold.

A few screams notwithstanding, our plan worked to perfection and, ever so methodically, one-by-one, we began to flop out upon the ground to cheers from the obviously fun-famished crowd. Being pretty proud of ourselves, we took bows, of course. Why not? Bulkwise, it had to have been a North American record!

Did I mention that our collective girth had ruined the vehicle in question? By the time our ever-so-willing driver had circled the block and headed off toward our destination, an eerie unhealthy moan from the undercarriage split the night. Soon, acceleration of any kind proved impossible. He would gun it and coast until the moan died out and then gun it again. What a trooper!

Our reward for all of this, which in no way was either granted by others or deserved, involved the infiltration of that part of the line closer to the front than to the rear, where, if justice was served, we rightfully belonged. Just one more insufficient-fund check written on our karmic bank account.

The venue had all the exterior ambiance of an abandoned warehouse. That was as good as it got. Much worse vibes waited inside. But first we had to wait in line, which proceeded at glacial speed toward a front-door pat-down search and then another for a ticket check. The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips, as Phillip Marlowe might say.

Two of our favorite groups, Reckless Kelly and Mickey & the Motorcars, were the cultural carrots that drew us down from the mountains. Each band contains two of the famed Braun Brothers, originally from the Salmon River Valley of Idaho but for years now playing out of the alternative-country Mecca of Austin, Texas.

Although they had played a couple of shows at the old Suede Club at Kimball Junction, the first two times Reckless Kelly came to Salt Lake they performed within the friendly confines of The Stateroom, a much smaller and much more user-friendly venue than the one we caught them at last Saturday night.

Inside, the club resembled an extras’ call for AMC’s "The Walking Dead." Not that I have anything against zombies. I’ve often been known to sport just such a glazed look myself. Plus, most all were very friendly and some were positively stunning.

Mickey & the Motorcars were up first. This outfit features Mickey, the youngest Braun brother, and Gary, the next eldest. The oldest two, Willie and Cody, are the vortex of Reckless Kelly, the more established but not always the more appealing of the two musical outfits. On this night, however, they stole the show from their younger siblings.

As an added attraction, the brothers’ parents, Muzzie and JoAnn, were in the house celebrating their wedding anniversary while their sons rocked the joint in front of a packed house. Let me correct that. It wasn’t a packed house. It was an overstuffed house!

Not to insinuate that the fire code was being ignored. It’s just that in order to squeeze one more person into the place, they would have had to ask two to leave. In fact, as opposed to the club, our cab, as we proved, at least had room enough to dance.

Other than traveling up to Challis, Idaho, for the annual Braun Brothers Reunion in August, this tour stop afforded fans not only a chance to catch both bands at once but also to have Muzzie join them onstage during their sets and for the big encore jam session at the end of the evening. Which, on this night, just happened to be the old classic truck-driving anthem "Six Days on the Road."

This wasn’t their first rodeo, of course. Back in the day when they were known as Muzzie & the Boys, both Johnny Carson and Jay Leno featured them as guests on their late-night shows. And I must say that, even in a low-rent-rendezvous venue set up as poorly as this one was for their show, they all did themselves proud.

But, as I mentioned in an après-concert posting, I wouldn’t go back to that venue if Mozart, Robert Johnson, Charlie Parker, and Hank Williams were headlining. Unless, of course, we could get that same cab and driver and the seven of us could once again stuff ourselves inside and retie our original knot.

Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.

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