Tuesday, April 8, 2014

In the last century, the music critic and journalistas could be counted on as arbiters of taste, as star makers, as people counted on the serve as snarky intermediaries, but things have changed. In the now, the critic is still around, sure, but new acts hardly need them if they can get their zombie technology together.

Such must be the case for Micky & the Motorcars, which has more online information, videos and links snowballing that an old ink-on-paper dinosaur seeking an interview can only shake his head, dumbfounded at how the sought-out star hardly needs the free publicity, due to this new world order

Micky & the Motorcars is something of a self-organizing miracle, an experienced, business-savvy country rock band that doesn't take today's no-money blues for an answer. Americana to the core, they have a Kickstarter.com video that plays up to the recession era artist theme, with two of the brothers from a long line of musical Brauns, Micky and Gary, splitting up on the streets of Austin to try to raise money for the new album. If they split up, they say in the video, they might increase the earnings. So one brother takes a cardboard sign saying they are raising money for beer, and the other brother holds a sign stating (he) is playing to raise more money.

But don't be fooled by the poor street busker appeal of this clear channel approach to marketing and music. Micky & the Motorcars has the Kickstarter.com thing down pat. As of this writing, the third-party tool for independent artists seeking to raise money for all kinds of projects had already surpassed its goal of raising $35,000 for a new album slated to come out this summer. The goal for the new album has been reached, notes Kickstarter, four days before the tour has even begun. In fact, they are nearly $11,000 over that goal, and who knows how much money the fundraising web site will score for them as the tour progresses.

"We are looking to raise $35,000," the Kickstarter page for the Motorcars states. "This will allow us to record the album and get it packaged. We are hoping to raise more money so that we can put the right team behind the album to push it out to the masses. Our stretch goal is $70,000 and this would be going to radio, publicity, and maybe even a music video."

There is no record company involvement for this album. At least not so far. The band has already been "roadtesting" the new songs and, after touring extensively ever westward from Austin, across the southwest, will likely be featuring those songs when they play April 7 at The Museum Club in Flagstaff. The tour began March 28 is Lewisville, Texas, moving on to Yoakum, Midland, Priddy and Lubbock, then crossing the "land of enchantment," New Mexico, without a stop or a gig, finally landing at Flagstaff, then on to Bakersfield, Calif., over a four day stretch. After that, the band turns up north

The alternative country band, originally from Idaho but now based in Austin, has five albums out and consists of Micky Braun (acoustic guitar, lead vocals), Gary Braun (lead and harmony vocals, guitars, mandolin, harmonica), Dustin Schaefer (lead guitar), Joe Fladger (bass), and Bobby Paugh (drums & percussion). Micky & the Motorcars is actually just one wing of Austin-based troubadors; Micky and Gary are the younger brothers of Willy and Cody Braun, members of the Austin band Reckless Kelly.

As musical families go, the Braun blood line runs deep. Imagine travelling down a country dirt road until you hit a cabin, where there are Brauns holding instruments all over the place. All of the brothers toured during the late 20th century with a country swing band founded by their father, Muzzie Braun & the Boys. Each year, the Braun clan performs at a family reunion in Challis, Idaho, and the tour itinerary for Micky & the Motorcars also includes a May 11 date for a "Reckless Kelly Softball Jam" in Round Rock, Texas. Brother Willy has also been named as the producer for the upcoming album for the Motorcars.

Between the two bands, Reckless Kelly, named after an 1870s to 1880s Australian Robin Hood type, rocks harder. But Micky & the Motorcars is more measured, radio-ready country, with Micky Braun's voice working in a drawl reminiscent of a Steve Earle. They are more ancestors of bands like Asleep at the Wheel, and vocally, the Everly Brothers.

"Two brothers who can really sing well together," Micky Braun says of the Everly Brothers connection, and how he harmonizes with brother Gary. "There is such a close similarity with siblings."

So in meatspace, the likes of Micky Braun can hole out without interruption in an off-the-grid cabin in Idaho, as the music journalist can only imagine a knd of Bear Country Jamboree, avoiding what Don McClean, of "American Pie" fame, once regarded as a telephone toting writer seeking to "suck out the psychic energy" over the line. With well-linked Web sites, Youtube.com videos and the likes of Kickstarter.com raising funds on automatic pilot, the game has changed so much that a little band from Texas barely needs new press.

After all, when was the last time you looked for the new musical flavor of the month by picking up a glossy for-print copy of Rolling Stone?

For more arts and culture coverage by Douglas McDaniel, go to ... Radio Free Arizona

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