Grandpa’s Cough Medicine and fiery lineup set

The fifth annual Baygrass Bluegrass Festival is set for Jan. 13 – 15. Islamorada Community Entertainment has arranged a stirring lineup, and couldn’t be more eager.

“If you’ve never heard bluegrass music live, it’s a great opportunity,” said ICE spokesman Patrick Foley. “We have a variety of national acts, including a master mandolin and mandolin prodigy playing together, University of Miami music school graduatesthe Wynwoods, and many returning favorites.”

One of the attention-grabbing bands for this year’s festival is Grandpa’s Cough Medicine. The blazing trio is made up of Brett Bass on vocals and guitar, Mike Coker on banjo, and newest member Caleb Hanks on mandolin.

Founding member Bass grew up loving bands like Metallica, Pantera, and Slayer, and would try to learn their songs on guitar. Yet after dabbling with acoustic guitar, Bass found his love for heavy metal spilling into acoustic-based genres. What was born was a darker variety of bluegrass, with themes of liquor, guns and badassery. But where do these two very different genres converge?

“Mostly through the lyrics,” said Bass. “Metalheads usually explore darker lyrics. That’s where my brain goes when I’m writing songs.”

Of his songwriting process, Bass said, “Most of the time if my idea is worth a damn, whether it be a line or song title worth exploring, it’ll be done in 15 minutes. Only occasionally do I come back and flesh the songs out.”

With its demanding technical play, and fast tempo, bluegrass was a perfect fit for Bass’ love of speed. But will this unique blend of bluegrass find favor among the laid-back locals?

Bass said crowds have embraced the band’s “heavier” themes. One of the band’s more requested songs is the title track from the Murder Chord album, which has “the most metal influence,” said Bass.

“We’re always excited to get down to the Islands; any time spent in the Keys is time well spent,” said Bass. “I grew up in South Florida, so it’s like coming home for me.”

“We are bringing our own twist, and I think people respond to it. We’re trying to keep that high energy the whole set,” said Bass. “That energy is the foremost focal point of a show, so we play to that and use slower songs to give our hands a break.”

Those hands have won awards.

In 2015, the band traveled to Lyons, Colorado for the Rockygrass Festival. The festival has a long- standing instrument competition for visiting musicians. It was there that Bass was awarded flat-picking guitar champion, and Coker won banjo champion.

Events Calendar:

Jan. 13-14 Morada Way Arts & Cultural District (Square Dancing/Picking Party & BBQ)

Hours: 5 p.m.

Jan. 15 – Founders Park

Concert Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Admission: $20 – $125 (VIP Package)

Bands: 15



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