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Summer Stars: The Brothers Comatose

by Kiran Herbert on July 30, 2013

Our annual Summer Stars series features a variety of groups making the rounds on the festival circuit. Today we feature The Brothers Comatose. We’ve also checked in with Lord Huron, Django Django, The Revivalists, Emancipator, Zoogma, Foxygen, The Flaming Lips, Allen Stone, Shovels & Rope, Passion Pit, John Scofield, The Lumineers, Futurebirds, Tea Leaf Green and moe..
Brothers Ben and Alex Morrison spent hours of their childhood sitting on the floor of their Petaluma, Calif. garage, mesmerized by their mother’s rehearsals with her folk band. They would listen intently to the three-and four-part harmonies and, eventually, were inspired to pick up instruments themselves. Ben adopted the guitar and provided vocals, while Alex gravitated toward the banjo. Fast forward years later, throw Gio Benedetti (bass), Philip Brezina (fiddle) and Ryan Avellone (mandolin) into the mix, and The Brothers Comatose were born.

“We are a five-piece, rowdy string band,” says Ben, though the group’s name seems at odds with such a description since their sound is anything but static. “It started with Alex,” Ben explains. “Whenever he solos on banjo and gets really into it, his eyes roll back in his head and the whites show – it looked to me like he was in some sort of coma.”

Moments of rapture are a common occurrence for The Brothers Comatose and though they’re proud of their sophomore album, Respect The Van, Ben emphasizes that they are a live band. “People are dancing, standing up in their chairs, clapping, making noise, just letting loose,” he says.

Having opened for acts such as Railroad Earth, The Devil Makes Three and most recently, Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers – Bluhm collaborated on Respect The Van’s “Morning Time” – The Brothers Comatose are ready for a summer on the road.

Album for a Hot Summer Night: The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main St.

Summer Drink: A cold Lagunitas or a whiskey and lemonade.

Festival Stops: Northwest String Summit, Kate Wolf, Black Swamp, Bristol’s Rhythm & Roots Reunion, California Worldfest, more.


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