REVIEW: The Stryker Brothers’ “Burn Band” is Robert Earl Keen’s Very Best Joke


According to the story behind newly released album, Burn Band (Scriptorium Rex), while surveying the land, “Mary,” who inherited her father’s Texas ranch found a tape of the mysterious “Stryker Brothers” in a burned-out prison. Meeting multi-instrumentalist (Terry Allen, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Golden Bear, Butch Hancock, Jerry Jeff Walker) and Grammy award-winning producer Lloyd Maines (Dixie Chicks, Pat Green, Wayne Hancock, Ray Wylie Hubbard), father of Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks and a major figure in Texas music, Mary discovered what was on the tapes: pure country music gold. With Maines’s help, she was able to set up a series of interviews with figures in Texas music.

What’s not clear, and we may never know, is the extent to which the interviews were scripted or improvised. And if they were improvised, was this a chain story, with each interview building on the previous ones? Through these interviews, with Shooter Jennings, Bruce Robison, Brendon Anthony, Radney Foster, John Dickson, Cody Canada, Todd Snyder, and astronaut Charlie Duke, an image of the Stryker Brothers emerges. “Coal” and “Flynt” were two ne’er do well brothers from Texas who played country music, were obsessed with pyrotechnics, and straight-up sold out to Nashville. I won’t spoil the details; you need to hear the interviews for yourself.

Burn Band is as much comedy as it is mystery. One of the brothers is clearly Robert Earl Keen, whose car they supposedly blew up at Willie’s Fourth of July Party, though no one seems to have determined the identity of the other. The interviews are clearly satirical, poking fun at music industry cliches. It’s funny stuff. And the music is actually pretty good. The lead song, “Charlie Duke Took Country Music Moon To The Moon,” is the clear highlight, with sampling from that very tape. This is a fun project to lose yourself in.  Check it out, here:

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