Only a couple weeks of shows are booked, capping with a two-night stand at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom, but despair not: The band’s Web site indicates they may return to the road in March and April to “warm up for a full-fledged tour later in the year.”

Until then, however, these January shows are all fans are gonna get.

The band’s latest album is still 2001’s Satellite Rides. Yeah, it’s been a while. But the rumors are they’ll hit the studio in February to “wax a late summer of ‘04 release.”

Like an increasing number of groups, the Old 97’s have a couple spin-offs to keep their members busy when the main troupe has some of that rare down time.

Lead singer and resident heartthrob Rhett Miller has done some solo work of his own. In addition, he and 97’s bassist Murray Hammond have performed under the name Ranchero Brothers.

The Old 97’s are hard to pin down. Hailing from Texas, the members are deeply influenced by early country artists such as Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, and Willie Nelson. And yet they seem to share an equal love for Brit-pop. Throw in a little rock ‘n’ roll and you have a band that defies convention.

Wherever they headline, the guys consistently play to sold-out crowds. Incessant touring has become a way of life and this recent spate of shows only proves that point.