by John Leach
It doesn’t take long to figure out that when Brett Bass, Jon Murphy and Mike Coker named their band Grandpa’s Cough Medicine they weren’t thinking about Robitussin. It’s also a pretty safe bet that they didn’t title this collection of songs The Murder Chord because they were hoping to get their music on a Walt Disney Co. film soundtrack. But, if you’re a whiskey drinkin’, gun totin’, hell raisin’, authority hatin’ redneck that loves his dog more than his family and might just kill for love, y’all just found yourselves some new bonfire ballads right here.
The instrumentation and delivery is traditional acoustic American bluegrass but the themes and lyrics send this material into outlaw territory faster than you can shoot a thief. Never shot a thief? GCM will tell you all about it on track 11 “Bullet For a Thief”, a track with a little bit more of a blues/rock sensibility than most of the disc. This track also gives the low down deep & dirty vocals a chance to really penetrate. A man with a voice like that could put the fear into Johnny Cash…
Track one, ‘Hillbilly Music’ sets the pace and theme for the rest of the disc. Tough lyrics like “Some folks call us crazy/and claim that we do drugs/well that may be but mostly/we get high on Flatt and Scruggs” are tough to misinterpret. Track two “American Dream” has it all – liquor bottles, beers, Florida homegrown, raging banjo and flaming fiddle that careen around each other like stock cars on a dirt track until a massive pile up leads straight to track three ‘Hurtin’.
For all the seriousness of most of the subject matter on the disc the band isn’t afraid to have a little dark humored fun on the title track. It’s a very well written tune about a young man that listens to heavy metal and kills his whole family when he hears “The Murder Chord”.
In the spirit of bluegrass greats like The Osborne Brothers, this record moves really fast. The production is very hot and shimmers with an emphasis on the high end twang of all the instrumentation. For the uninitiated it may be hard to keep up. But, for the alcoholically ambitious, the moonshine motivated, those smokers and tokers dying to discover how far out there bluegrass music can get, listen, learn, and pass this bastard around. Just, please, don’t kill anybody until after you hear track 15, ‘The Saddest Song No One Has Ever Heard’. It might bring it all back to earth before the big bang gets the best of ya. Speed kills man, especially when Grandpa’s Cough Medicine comes to town.
My wife in the next room just hollered at me “Y’know I hate hillbilly music but this stuff is really good. These guys have a lot of talent and the lyrics are very clever.” I wish she’d ‘a said somethin’ earlier – it woulda saved me five paragraphs…
Jacksonville area trio Grandpa’s Cough Medicine just made their Orlando debut (Nov. 29, Will’s Pub). As you may have divined from their moniker, they’re a traditional bluegrass band. Comprised of banjo, acoustic guitar and stand-up bass, this combo is both true blue and amazingly talented. Like any authentic bluegrass act, those instruments aren’t just up there for looks or texture. In technically skilled hands like these, they’re weapons of expression. And there’s nothing like seeing masters at work, especially when they blaze the more storming end of the genre’s spectrum as these guys do. Between the banjoist and guitarist, in particular, were some real acoustic fireworks. They’re without the flash of rock amplification, but there’s at least as much technical dazzle here as most rock or metal shredders. And every time they go on one of their breathless tears, all I wanna do is dust the sheriff in my General Lee. The blend of rigor and ease with which these boys play is simply jaw dropping.
Original link: http://orlandoweekly.com/music/this-little-underground-1.1411912
Grandpa’s Cough Medicine blew the crowd away at Will’s Pub last Thursday night, the 29th with their picking so fast it was amazing the strings didn’t fly off. The three piece group preformed in perfect original bluegrass harmonizing heaven.
Standing across the stage in a straight line all in a uniform of plaid and blue jeans, they began with an instrumental song that picked the crowd up and prepared them for some fast grass. The crowd responded with good old fashion country stepping, swinging, and screaming growing more and more enticed by every note. One man even got down on his knee to propose a dance to the lovely lady of his choice. Grandpa’s Cough Medicine sang raw, tough lyrics surrounding the themes of drinking, ‘perpetual sinning machines,’ and vigilantism. Their lyrics embodied fresh recitatif narratives that enthralled the listeners. They amplified a perfect form of synchronic rhythm and rhyme that boomed through each person’s body and into their dancing or swaying steps.
Brett Bass was able to work the guitar at the speed of light partially because of his background in heavy metal music. Mikey Coker plunked his banjo with such ferocity in a finger flying frenzy that some people were saying it was the fastest they’d seen him play. While Jon Murphy slapped his stand-up bass at some points as if it were a drum adding an interesting addition to the musical trio. They preformed an array of songs from their newest album Murder Chord that brought more heart-hitting songs where they sing about real guttural truths.
One song that struck the audience as they struck their strings was ‘Julianne,’ which talks about a girl that leaves her boyfriend high and dry during a bank heist. They compose many of their songs to be compelling instrumental storytelling. Other songs, they choose to play in instrumental with extremely rapid plucking; one of which was ‘Border Patrol’ where they incorporate a classic Latin rhythm into their style. Their style at the same time, being in the genre bluegrass still can touch anyone with its versatile allure.
When told that they could ‘play all night’ by the sound guy Brett Bass said, “My lady’s not here- that’s the only time I go all night.” For their first time playing in Orlando, Grandpa’s Cough Medicine consistently picked the crowd up and never let them down.
All words by Rachel Gonzalez
Original link: http://lightthenightup.com/ltnup-presents-grandpas-cough-medicine-live/