The Morrison household was home to some of the rowdiest, loudest, longest and most memorable house parties in the San Francisco Bay area, but it wasn’t siblings Alex and Ben Morrison (leaders of The Brothers Comatose) behind them — it was their parents.
The pair’s mom performed music professionally, and she’d invite her bandmates, friends, friends of friends and anyone with a stringed instrument, a sense of rhythm or a voice to holler with to join in on the region-wide hoedown.
For Alex and Ben, there was nothing cooler than those long, boisterous nights.
“They had a lot of musician friends and would have these huge parties in our house,” Ben said. “Everyone would just jam with banjos, fiddles and mandolins, and it would just go on for hours. We did our stint in rock bands, but we always came back to that world. It just felt like home.”
It was in that house that The Brothers Comatose was born (and raised). Alex and Ben met their founding bassist (the now-departed Gio Benedetti) and recruited Philip Brezina (fiddle) and Ryan Avellone (mandolin) in 2008.
The crew — playing a modern, rock-bent take of Americana and bluegrass — soon took to playing shows and couldn’t help but carry that communal, fun-loving mentality of their family’s music gatherings to every stage they stepped on.
“I was at the 99 cent store right before one of our first shows, and they had a pack of wooden spoons,” Ben said. “I thought it would be so cool to pass a bunch out and have them bang along to our songs.”
By the time Ben returned to the store, the spoons were sold out … so he grabbed some heavy-duty chopsticks instead and let the crowd provide the percussion.
“People loved it, and we loved it,” he said. “It’s one thing to sit back and watch a show, but everyone has a much better time when they can get involved.”
Alligator inflatables, encores in the crowd and more audience-engaging antics have followed — and they have served The Brothers Comatose well. The band has nabbed gigs at music festivals like Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and Outside Lands and has released two full-length albums (2010’s Songs from the Stoop and 2012’s Respect The Van). It also had the opportunity to tour with some of its musical heroes, like its opening slot on the Yonder Mountain String Band tour that stops Friday at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, one night after The Brothers Comatose headline The Blue Door here in Oklahoma City.
New material is in the works, and while Ben notes that it’s thematically different from past efforts, it remains the same music that fans have grown to love, expect and party to.
“We’re the same band,” he said. “We’ll never venture too far from what works for us.”