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.
Entertaining band story of the day: Before we left our gig in St. Augustine last night, I slammed two beers to make the most of our large comped tab. On the long drive home, I decided to hang my leg and dick out the window to piss. Urine then proceeded to get all over the side of the truck, much of it also ending up on the front of my shirt. When we get home, Banjo Boy gets the hose to rinse off his truck and pulls it a little too hard, ripping the pipe and spigot from the wall. A large geyser of water begins to erupt, us having no idea how to turn it off. I ended up calling my landlord at 3am, to find out where the shut off valve is, and it’s right under the pipe that was currently shooting a jet of water ten feet into the air. So I had to go step on the pipe, getting soaked in the process and turn the shut off valve. Now I have no running water in my house and an angry landlord. I still laughed. When you gotta go, you gotta go. – Brett