Or, perhaps, from behind the microphone.
The latter is what locals will get if they check out a free concert from Chuck Mead at 9 p.m. Saturday at John Ascuaga’s Nugget.
According to his official bio, after leading several popular ‘80s cult bands in and around his hometown of Lawrence, Kansas, Mead landed on Nashville’s Lower Broadway where he co-founded the famed ‘90s alternative country quintet BR549. The band’s seven albums, three Grammy nominations and the Country Music Association Award for Best Overseas Touring Act built a bridge between authentic American roots music and millions of fans worldwide.
With BR on hiatus, Mead formed The Hillbilly All-Stars featuring members of The Mavericks, co-produced tribute albums to Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, guest-lectured at Vanderbilt University and became a staff writer at one of Nashville’s top song publishers. In 2009, he released his acclaimed solo debut album, “Journeyman’s Wager,” and toured clubs, concert halls and international rock, country and rockabilly festivals with his band The Grassy Knoll Boys.
As the sixth track on “Journeyman’s Wager,” the wit Mead injects into the song “Wish It Was Friday” will make listeners smile and nod in agreement over their bottle of beer.
“I wake up every morning
At the start of every week
I pull on my work boots
And feel my old bones creak
“Lord I wish it was Friday
At the end of the week
48 hours to live my life in peace”
“We write songs that may be humorous on the surface but have some seriousness in them,” Mead said in a phone interview Wednesday. The idea behind the lyrics, he said, is to tell the truth without being heavy-handed.
A number of Mead’s songs are co-written with Jon Tiven, including “She Got the Ring (I Got the Finger),” again demonstrating his sense of humor mixed with barroom misery and cynicism:
“She said we oughta get married
I told her I wasn’t ready
She said I wanna be with you always
I said we was already steady
She said she needed a diamond but I told her
I wouldn’t give it
She went out and got a fella
Who would come up with it
“So she got the ring
I got the finger
She didn’t want to waste her time with no poor-ass singer
She wanted all the bling
That married life would bring her
So she got the ring
And I got the finger”
Musically, Mead’s sound is an entertaining mix of country-rock. His brand of music would be at home on a shelf alongside Brooks & Dunn, George Strait or Brad Paisley.
Under the album’s listing on Amazon, a user named Dee Bee from Lawrence, Kansas, commented, “I have loved everything that BR549 has done. Chuck Mead’s first solo album will not disappoint the BR fans. But he takes the music to a new level with Journeyman’s Wager. He stays true to traditional country while adding a solid rock edge, and he even gets a bit funky on ‘No Requests.’ I listened to the whole album three times already (I just bought it tonight) and it’s a great group of songs.
“If Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys come to a town near you, go see them live. They are one of the best live shows out there, too.”
Mead’s new album, “Back at the Quonset Hut,” was recorded at Nashville’s legendary Quonset Hut Studio where Patsy Cline, George Jones, Merle Haggard Roger Miller, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash and more cut some of country’s greatest tracks. Produced by original BR549 producer Mike Janas and with the participation of students from Belmont University’s College of Entertainment and Music Business, the album of classic covers features surviving members of Music Row’s original ‘A Team’ studio musicians as well as guest appearances by Old Crow Medicine Show, Elizabeth Cook, Jamie Johnson and Bobby Bare.
“It’s been incredibly liberating to do all these things I’ve never done before,” Mead said in a press release. “I’ve already gone from the bars of Lower Broadway in Nashville to the Broadway stage, and the upcoming album is one of the most unique and rewarding projects I’ve ever been a part of. I’m looking forward to where it all brings me next.”
Mead performs a free show in the Cabaret at John Ascuaga’s Nugget at 9 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit www.chuckmead.com.