Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 4:37 pm | Updated: 4:52 pm, Tue Nov 20, 2012.
One part whiskey, one part honey, one part lemon makes a pretty effective cough medicine, so says Brett Bass, the lead guitarist of outlaw bluegrass band Grandpa’s Cough Medicine.
A stalwart of the Jacksonville music scene for the last four years and hailing from Atlantic Beach, Florida, this trio made up of Bass, Mike Coker on banjo, and Jon Murphy on stand-up bass, GCM has appeared multiple times at Suwannee Springfest and Magnolia Fest, and is constantly playing around its home base, creating a loyal following of fans that love the band’s irreverent approach to traditional bluegrass.
Each member is remarkably accomplished at his instrument, but despite that the band is shunned by “traditional” bluegrass players. Maybe it’s the way guitarist Brett Bass uses the heavy metal stylings of his youth to take his flatpicking style to a level one could only call speed-metal bluegrass. Maybe it’s the way Mike Coker emulates Earl Scruggs’ style on the banjo, yet with a frenetic aspect that would thrill any metal-head. Maybe it’s Jon Murphy’s relentless thump and slap of the bass that leaves no foot motionless. Or maybe it’s the fact that these guys avoid the gospel aspects of bluegrass, and the love ballads, exchanging all that smarmy stuff for all the dark aspects: murder songs, songs about corrupt politicians, lots of drinking songs, jealous lovers with chainsaws … you’ll hear them all on their sophomore release, “The Murder Chord.”
The album has it all, from crooked cops to murdering thieves, and plenty of hot bluegrass pickin’. Randy Kohr’s production is clean and devoid of the trappings of Nashville, giving Bass’s powerful baritone voice the clarity it deserves while avoiding that annoying tone employed by so many other country singers. Beyond the fact that Bass’s flatpicking skills can and should be mentioned in the same sentence as Tony Rice and Larry Keel, the way these guys work together is nothing short of thrilling. Tight harmonies and rhythms complete the perfection of the band’s music, and that combined with their fine songwriting skills make Grandpa’s Cough Medicine one of the great bluegrass bands of today, despite what the “traditionalists” say.
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Original link: http://www.oanow.com/the_corner_news/music/wildman_picks/article_e747e814-3362-11e2-93b4-001a4bcf6878.html
This is a project of all-original material from this Florida-based band, and given the rather gruesome theme (and graphics), the music is good, interesting, and enjoyable. The project is a Randy Kohrs production recorded in Nashville with Brett Bass (guitar, resonator guitar), Jon Murphy (bass), and Mike Coker (banjo), with guest Aaron Till (fiddle). These guys are good both instrumentally (with plenty of hot picking) and vocally (with good leads and harmony blends). The song arrangements are enjoyable with their tongue-in-cheek approach to their material. Songs include “Hurtin’,” a hangover repentance, “A Boy And His Dog,” an ode to his faithful friend, and “Julianne,” love gone wrong. “Border Patrol” is a Latin-flavored instrumental where everyone cuts loose including Aaron Till with a fiddle break. Other tunes include “Crooked Cop,” “The Girl I Learned To Love,” and “The Saddest Song No One Has Even Heard.” The two most gruesome tunes are “Bullet For A Thief” and “The Murder Chord,” best left to the listener to define. The most pleasant song of the set is “Arizona Sky” which shows the band in a lighter mood. We’re sure to be hearing more from Grandpa’s Cough Medicine.
Published in Florida Times Union on August 24th
Written by Heather Lovejoy
Original Article >>
Grandpa’s Cough Medicine performance celebrates release of band’s second album
Whiskey, honey and lemon. As a tot, that’s what Brett Bass’ grandpa gave him to soothe a cough. It worked, Bass said. Combine that tidbit of family history to slick pickin’ and a nonconformist attitude, and you get the 4-year-old band Grandpa’s Cough Medicine.
Based in Atlantic Beach, the bluegrass trio is 25-year-old Bass, a flatpicking guitar madman and baritone singer; 21-year-old Mike Coker, an Earl Scruggs-loving banjoist; and 40-year-old Jon Murphy, an amiable stand-up bassist and singer. They celebrate the release of their second album, “The Murder Chord,” at Mojo Kitchen on Saturday night.
Their tunes have a traditional bluegrass core, charging forward with fast, tight instrumentation and an undeniable twang. But they’re not traditionalists. They’ve been shunned by local bluegrass purists, they said, but that’s fine by them.
“People say to us, ‘I never liked bluegrass until I heard you guys,’ ” Bass said.
That’s one of the finest compliments a fan can bestow upon the band, they agreed. Murphy said they seem to appeal to rock ’n’ roll fans.
As the youngster in the band, Coker has been discussed among local old-school bluegrass musicians, they said. They say he’s been “corrupted,” which he seems to find amusing. The corners of his lips shyly curled up when his diversion onto a “road to ruin” is mentioned. “This is what I want to do,” he said.
They call their style “outlaw bluegrass,” which doesn’t allow for gospel or mushy, sugar-coated love songs. With a sometimes dark humor, their lyrics often speak of humanity’s imperfections, which can be partially attributed to Bass’ origins as a metalhead. That’s not to say they don’t respect tradition. They do, and often perform old songs (murder ballads are favorites), but being set apart from the masses is important to them.
“I don’t see the point in being just like somebody else,” Bass said.