That was before life bogged me down and I started worrying about things like mortgages, and bills and drinking and driving.
Most of the time the bands were okay. Some of the times they sucked, but on a very rare occasion I got my mind blown.
That was what happened when I first saw The Cousin Lovers.
Don’t let the name fool you, this isn’t a novelty act or some kind of musical joke. The Cousin Lovers were as serious as a heart attack and then some…and they did it all bluegrass style. For the uninformed amongst you, bluegrass is about as American a musical genre as you could get; mixing country, jazz and a lot of immigrant influence from the music of Ireland and the UK. What you got was a lot of great musicians improvising around a central melody and breaking it down from there.
Breaking it down where? Could be into gospel territory, a waltz or a good old timey swinger.
Have a listen to this…one of Tim’s greatest songs and a true country classic if I ever heard one: Here’s to the Horse Players.
But before The Cousin Lovers arrived I knew nothing about it. Luckily after that first night I spent some time drinking scotch with the front man Tim Ferguson…probably one of the most talented motherfuckers I know ( Singer, songwriter, sculptor, mandolin player, chocolatier and now ice cream truck guy.No shit! ) He taught me all about old timey country…from Bill Monroe to The Louvin Brothers. But along with Dean (guitar) and Barry Thomas (stand up bass) Stuart Johnson on drums and the amazing Craig Eastman on fiddle the group really put everything they had into every song.
Watching from the back of a packed house at the Mint, I could only wonder why no record company had picked them up. Then I remembered that most record companies suck and that’s why they are now disappearing.
But the band wasn’t always all there. Sometimes Stuart was on tour and they had to play without drums. Sometimes Craig (a very in demand studio musician) had to hit the studio and they had to go on without a fiddle. But even a show of only Tim and Dean could be something special…it usually meant some gorgeous harmonies and a lot of southern gospel. They went through several bass players too when Barry had to head back east to take care of an ailing relative. Eventually Craig was replaced by the talented Julie Pusch who brought her own flavor to the group.
I was just pleased as punch any time I got to go see them… in whatever configuration they showed up as.
The band appears to have dissolved now, it’s pieces scattered to the winds…their website deserted. All that remains is this…their only record. It’s name more than just an obscure reference to the movie Vernon, Florida.
I pray for a reunion.