“Whether traveling to gigs on horseback or by tour bus, Americana mavens The Brothers Comatose forge their own path with raucous West Coast renderings of traditional bluegrass, country and rock-n-roll,” their website states.
“It’s a better word than rowdy,” says founding brother Ben Morrison (guitar, vocals) about the use of the word raucous and their visit to The Lariat Friday night.
The five-piece string band is anything but a traditional acoustic outfit. Raucous. Rowdy. Pick a word.
“We’re a rock-n-roll rowdy string band,” he says enthusiastically. “When we play there’s a connection between the audience and the band. We love that and just try to play off that.”
The Brothers Comatose is comprised of brothers Ben and Alex Morrison (banjo, vocals), Scott Padden (bass, vocals), Philip Brezina (violin) and Greg Fleischut (mandolin).
“(The Brothers Comatose were) amazing to witness. Individually they play together extremely well, but the connectedness where they became impenetrable was something almost impossible to describe,” wrote Chicago Music Magazine. “Nothing could pierce the cohesive bond; interconnectedness of a band of Brothers … They get on stage, drop their guard, play their hearts and sing their soul.”
The band started 11 years ago as kind of a surprise,” Ben says. His parents often threw music parties in their home, and one morning brother Alex picked up a banjo that had been left behind.
“We started playing all the rock-n-roll songs we knew growing up, just on an acoustic guitar and a banjo; Stones and Zeppelin and old folk and blues stuff.”
The band grew from there.
Morrison said he has heard of Buena Vista, but only because he has friends in Colorado – and he hadn’t heard of The Lariat.
“We’re starting with a blank slate and really happy to be there. Colorado crowds are very excitable,” he said. “We love to play the ski areas and the small mountain towns.”
The band toured Latvia and Lithuania last spring as cultural ambassadors for American Music Abroad, which is run by the U.S. State Department with the goal of sending American artists all over the world as a cultural exchange program. The band toured China in 2018 under the same program.
They have the obligatory shared-the-stage-with list, including The Devil Makes Three, Yonder Mountain String Band, Lake Street Dive, Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, Rising Appalachia, Jamestown Revival, Infamous Stringdusters, John C. Reilly, Trampled by Turtles and many more.
They’ve played some places too, perhaps most notably selling out the Fillmore in San Francisco in advance, and played Merlefest, Delfest, Pickathon, Winnipeg Folk Festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Outside Lands, Bottlerock, High Sierra Music Festival and the Dashville Skyline in Australia.
The Brothers also host their own music festival, Comatopia, in the Sierra foothills.
Checklist approved, then – now what?
“We just want people to walk in and forget about their problems and everything going on in the world for a little bit.”
The band has the same goal every night, striving to be in the moment with the audience, even if just for a few hours.
That goal? “We want them to leave with smiles on their faces.”
The Brothers Comatose take the stage at 10 p.m., Aug. 16. Tickets are $15 and available in advance at thelariatbv.com.