Get local news delivered straight to your phone
Support City Paper!
If you were going to introduce your new band to the world, you would probably call your first album something like This Is BR549. But given that this is actually BR549’s third studio album (not counting a live CD and an EP), something else must be at work. The retro honky-tonk outfit appears to be changing its image in a big way, perhaps to seek greater airplay than its critically acclaimed efforts have inspired so far. The band dropped the hyphen from its old name, BR5-49 (which referred to a phone number from a Hee-Haw sketch); in publicity photos, band members have shed their formerly omnipresent string ties; and instead of kitschy, homespun images, This Is BR549 features an airbrushed-looking photograph that conjures up more Santa Monica than Nashville. Yet, paradoxically, BR549’s music has become a little more O Brother, Where Art Thou? and a little less rollicking, with a more prominent pedal-steel guitar and fiddle (sometimes bowed in the style of the late jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli). Not badjust different. Check out the newly hyphenless quintet with Jennifer Beck at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $17.50. (703) 549-7500. (Louis Jacobson)