Published July 10, 2020

Note: This week’s featured teller of The Day the Music Died tales is Ben Morrison of The Brothers Comatose, a progressive string-band out of San Francisco. Working with Ben reminded me of this piece I wrote about the Bros but never published. Everything about it applies today except, of course, they didn’t play in a groovy little club in Telluride Thursday last — nor anywhere else, live.

The Brothers Comatose: Harmony and Strings

By Dale McCurry

The Brothers Comatose

The Brothers Comatose: Scott Padden bass, Greg Fleischut mandolin, Ben Morrison guitar,
Alex Morrison banjo, Philip Brezina fiddle. Photo courtesy of Ben Morrison.

Seeing The Brothers Comatose live is like having pie for breakfast. It’s like driving a red classic Chevy conversion van from the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco to MerleFest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, and back — greeting harmonious spirits, sharing lyrical poetry and blasting dead-on string-band riffs at every bridge, tunnel and turn along the way.

…sharing lyrical poetry and blasting dead-on string-band riffs…

Seeing The Brothers Comatose live is to fall in love with these boys and their music all over again.

To the Moon
Thursday last, High Notes Magazine co-founder, Jennifer Mandaville, and I seized yet another opportunity to see the Bros. This time in Telluride, Colorado, at the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon. Jennifer had written a strong story about the band for our summer 2015 issue. Our cover teaser for the issue says: “The Brothers Comatose: Know Them Now.” We meant it, then; we mean it, now. They are the real deal, all wrapped in a pretty package.

Life on the road is a tough one — cranking out show after show, mile after mile. Having been snowed-in in Evanston, Wyoming, for a couple of days, the band of five barely made it to a late Wednesday show in Denver. Thursday, they drove their Sprinter (“We used to have money; now we have a Sprinter.”) the seven-hours-in-good-weather drive to Telluride. Friday, they would drive much of the way back to Denver to a show in Vail, before turning back west for a performance in Park City, Utah, and beyond.

Yet they brought their A-performance with them. Apparently they don’t know anything else. It is in them — of them. And not only are they outstanding players, but world-class songwriters.

Dancing Harmonies 
Brother Ben Morrison, whose deeply resonant voice is both unique and reminiscent of the great crooners, told Mandaville: “We’re a singing band, not a shredding band.” And sing they can. Layers of harmony blend seamlessly across the stage and dance through the crowd like a dreadlocked millennial.

Layers of harmony blend seamlessly across the stage

Having studied and followed these young men during a period of their career that has included more and more invitations to top string-band festivals across the country, we felt almost parental pride as the crowd — 95% of them younger than my adult children — pushed and pulsed down front — absorbing the band and performance. 

A handful of fans bounced in front of the stage, singing loudly to several of the songs. Others — pulled to the music as if to an altar call — were happily dancing, watching and wondering where these boys had been hiding.

They’re not hiding. They are working hard to bring their fearless sound to you. Do yourself a favor and let them.

The Brothers Comatose: Know them now. You can thank me later.

The Brothers Comatose – “Pie for Breakfast”

To learn more about the quintet and to buy stuff, go to TheBrothersComatose.com

Dale McCurry

Dale McCurry

Writer and Editor

Following years as a reporter and editor of a handful of weekly newspapers, Dale McCurry was co-founder and publisher, writer and managing editor of High Notes Magazine on the Western Slope of Colorado and The Wires and the Wood in his native Ozarks. Today, he wears all of those hats for NoteWorthy Music as well.
Contact: Dale@NoteWorthyMusic.org.

For more about Ben, check out The Day the Music Died Part 3: Ben Morrison.

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