Press - posted on November 28, 2012 by

Great bluegrass album has it all.

Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 4:37 pm | Updated: 4:52 pm, Tue Nov 20, 2012.

Wildman Steve

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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