Archive for Friday, January 1, 1999

IN HONOR OF COUNTRY GROUP

January 1, 1999

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Mayor Marty Kennedy is ready to proclaim Monday through Friday as "BR5-49 Week" in Lawrence "in recognition of hometown talent becoming successful in the world of country music."

Forget winning Nashville Music Awards, becoming the British Country Music group of the year or even being nominated for a Grammy.

BR5-49 will hit the big time Tuesday night, when Mayor Marty Kennedy proclaims "BR5-49 Week" in Lawrence.

"They're hitting the biggest time now," Kennedy said with a laugh.

The band -- which includes two former Lawrence residents, Chuck Mead and "Hawk" Shaw Wilson -- will culminate its own week with a performance Friday at Liberty Hall. Opening will be The Big Rigs, a local band that includes Allen Levine, a former commissioner.

Tuesday's commission meeting begins at 6:45 p.m. at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts. And Kennedy is excited to sign the parchment.

"It's great to see a successful entrepreneur in the music industry fare so well in such a competitive field," Kennedy said of band co-founder Mead. "We're proud to have him."

Mead, the band's guitarist-vocalist, is proud to claim Lawrence as his hometown. He spent 23 years in town before moving to Nashville, where the group formed about four years ago and later earned a Grammy nomination for one of its singles, "Cherokee Boogie."

The band is known for its throw-back '50s sound and rambunctious performances. In Chicago, fans dubbed their music "insurgent country," while elsewhere it's known as "twang-core."

In Lawrence, Mead attended Schwegler, Kaw Valley, South Junior High and Lawrence High schools, playing percussion and marching in the LHS marching band.

At age 12, he played in a band fittingly known as Family Tree, which featured Chuck on drums and his mom, dad, uncle and grandfather filling out the stage. Years later he would become known for leading a local roots-rock band, the Homestead Grays.

Mead's parents, Chuck and Lois Mead, live in rural Lawrence, just southeast of town.

Mead will miss Tuesday's night's proclamation at city hall, as BR5-49 prepares for performances Wednesday in St. Louis and Thursday in Des Moines. The band was in Reno, Nev., Friday for a New Year's Eve gig.

Wilson, the band's drummer, was born in Topeka and spent about 10 years in Lawrence.

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.

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