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.