Arizona Public Radio | Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Return of Honky Tonk Heavyweights BR549

In the mid-1990s, the honky tonk quintet BR549 emerged from Nashville's then-seedy Lower Broadway neighborhood to scale the heights of country music success. The band performed with Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and Bob Dylan and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2000.

But the group lost two founding members to the rigors of touring in 2001 and was then dropped from two record labels. It flew below music industry radar for several years.

Front man Chuck Mead and drummer Shaw Wilson tell NPR's Scott Simon how BR549 re-grouped and set out to record and tour again.

The musicians also reveal the not-so-secret source of the band's name: it was the phone number for Junior Sample's used car lot on the television show Hee Haw.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.