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Red Meat began in a Mission District garage in 1993. But they trace their musical roots much farther back – to the hard honky tonk songs of their youths in Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Ohio, as well as the rock music of the 60s and 70s that they grew up with. Throw in the Ozark gospel harmonies from Scott Young's childhood, and you have the basic backbone of the Red Meat sound. It was this sound that they unleashed on an unsuspecting San Francisco still reeling from the demise of a strong 80s punk rock scene. And in a city known for its unusual music and its off-kilter bands, Red Meat did the craziest thing yet: they returned to their roots, writing and performing hard Bakersfield-style country music to sometimes dumbfounded early audiences.
"Back when we started, nobody was playing this kind of music at all", explains Smelley Kelley, "We'd go into a bar, play our set, and win over these rockers and punk kids. Now it's become a lot more normal to see a country band in a Bay Area bar." And San Francisco now boasts one of the most vibrant twang scenes in America. After hundreds of gigs, four albums, national tours, European dates, sharing the stage with their idol Buck Owens and many other national acts, backing rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson on the West Coast, and movie and television soundtracks, Red Meat has found its place as one of the pre-eminent honky tonk bands in California. It's a lot of progress for five expatriate Midwesterners who found their muse in San Francisco so long ago. And with the release of their fifth album, "Live At the World's Smallest Honky Tonk", don't look for the progress to end anytime soon.