• courtesy of Chuck Mead
  • Chuck Mead

Back in the mid-90s Chuck Mead helped kick-start a revival of classic honky-tonk aesthetics in Nashville as a member of BR5-49, playing weekly gigs at a combination boot shop and bar. An antidote to country music’s shift toward soft rock aimed at the suburbs, the quintet played plenty of classic covers, but for most of its recordings the band emphasized original material written and performed in old-school fashion—sometimes it was hard to tell the difference. Over time, though, the band put aside its retro trappings—both in terms of look and sound—and its music, while still far from mainstream country, became less gripping. And after Arista Records chewed them up, Mead turned his contempt on the industry that first gave them a chance.