Young bluegrass/folk band The Brothers Comatose will open a show at The State Theatre on July 17, supporting the legendary Hot Tuna.
Don’t let the name fool you, The Brothers Comatose offer an energetic live show based in bluegrass roots but presented with modern flair.
“I call it ‘rowdy roots music,’” said Ben Morrison, guitarist and vocalist for The Brothers Comatose. “It’s definitely got our bluegrass instrumentation and influences, but we all kind of grew up listening to rock music. A lot of classic rock in there, we all bring different things to the table to influence it. It’s not your typical bluegrass music, but it’s definitely got that influence as well.”
While the band’s name may not describe their sound, it applies specifically to Morrison’s brother Alex, banjo player and vocalist.
“It just popped into my head one day, really,” Morrison said. “I attribute it, really, to the fact that my brother’s eyes roll into the back of his head when he’s getting really into his banjo solos. He seems like he’s in some sort of musical coma. It just looks ridiculous.”
The true family band started several years ago, but hard work and talent paved the way to touring success.
“It all started with my brother and I,” Morrison said. “The current band formation started about seven years ago. Really, it started even before that with my brother Alex and I doing a bunch of duo shows. Then we did trio shows around town, then we got together with our bass player Gio (Benedetti), and it all snowballed from there. It just kind of kept going, we started touring the country and making records, and here we are.”
Rounding out the band are Ryan Avellone on mandolin, Josh Rabie on vocals, fiddle and guitar and Philip Brezina — who some audience members might recognize — on fiddle.
“Our fiddle player is from State College,” Morrison said. “Philip Brezina is from the area originally.”
The band members have fond memories of playing Happy Valley and are excited for their return.
“We’ve played twice here in the past,” Morrison said. “We played the Arts Fest here last year at this time, and we played at Cafe 210 West a couple years ago. It’s always been a great time.”
While other brother bands may face issues with infighting and personality conflicts, The Brothers Comatose are nearly as copacetic as can be.
“So far, it’s been good,” Morrison said. “I think it’s been better for us (than most). When we were kids we used to fight a lot, and we still bicker like brothers do, but I think it’s better being in a band together (as brothers).”
When asked where he saw the band in five years, Morrison laughed.
“Uh … Bonnaroo?” he said.
While the band has been enjoying more success, they were still honored by the opportunity to open for rock royalty.
“We had a show booked at The State Theatre at a smaller venue, but then they put us on this one. They asked if we’d want to open for Hot Tuna and (of course) we said sure! It’s so cool to be playing with guys from Jefferson Airplane. We’ve covered their songs before, it’s so exciting,” Morrison said. “We bring the party. We will bring a party to The State Theatre in State College; it will be a damn good time.”