Tampa’s country mystery

One of country music’s greatest unsung heroes originated right here in the Tampa area. Despite a hit TV show, two albums and contributions to other country artists, The Warren Brothers remain relatively unknown.

Not a lot of people know anything about the Warren Brothers. They might explain this situation by quoting one of their lyrics to their song “Sell a Lot of Beer,” referring to the dues they pay playing small venues: “We’re at that point in our career where we don’t sell a lot of records / But we sure sell a lot of beer.”

The Warren Brothers, Brett and Brad, are actually country musicians who are gaining fans by leaps and bounds thanks to their show, Barely Famous: The Warren Brothers, on CMT. Barely Famous just finished its second season of chronicling their antics and run-ins with other celebrities such as Keith Urban, Brooks & Dunn and Faith Hill. The audience of the second season of the show increased 60 percent from its first season, according to their Web site, www.warrenbrothers.com.Hawk Ehnes, a USF student, said he “loves watching their television show.”

“We always joke about it, but surely being ‘barely famous’ is not a bad spot to be in,” Brett said in the biography section of their Web site.

While they have their ballads and up-tempo stereotypical country songs, they are not a duo who always sings about their dog dying, their wives leaving them and drinking to excess at the local honky-tonk — the usual images people who dislike country music assume every song is about.

Although Brett and Brad may be waiting for a smash hit like last year’s “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” from another country duo, Big & Rich, the Warren Brothers’ albums and songs should not be dismissed. One of their first hits was the song that they sang with Sara Evans, “That’s the Beat of a Heart,” which was featured on the 2000 film Where the Heart Is, starring Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd.

The Warren Brothers have had success as songwriters as well. Their song, “The Lucky One,” is on Faith Hill’s latest release, Fireflies. Hill’s husband, Tim McGraw, also used a song penned by the brothers, “Blank Sheet of Paper,” for his smash album Live Like You Were Dying.

The Warren Brothers are very fan friendly. Their Web site has links to their fan club, message board, clips from their show and their MySpace Web site, so anyone can be their “friend” and get updates straight from them. On the message board section of their home page, they boast 620 registered members.

The Warren Brothers will be performing at the Ford Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds as part of the Deuces Wild Tour — which stars two other country duos, Brooks & Dunn, and Big & Rich — on Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $53.75 for reserved seats and $29 for lawn.