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The Copas Brothers: “Towboat Song” – a blend of country, bluegrass and blues within a Southern rock context

The Copas Brothers played their first gig on March 3, 1974 at Club Le Cheval in Baker, LA on Plank Road. The band did covers of old Bluegrass gradually working in original songs then playing newer tunes by new artists, such as Jimmy Buffet, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, David Allen Coe and a list of others.

After gaining popularity at a club called Cahoots owned by a fellow high school class mate named Danny Kertacy from Baton Rouge, The Copas Brothers eventually got bookings throughout the United States. Along the way they opened concerts for Jimmy Buffet, Jerry Jeff Walker, Doug Kershaw, Hank Williams Jr., Waylon Jennings, Doug Kershaw, Tracy Nelson, The Atlanta Rhythm Section, Asleep at the Wheel, Tom Waits, and many more.

the-copas-brothers-band-300Now, as the The Copas Brothers themselves say,  in an attempt to have the songs the five of them poured their hearts and souls into, be heard by their families, friends and fans, they have released an album entitled,  “Brothers & Sisters Anthology Vol. 2”. This collection includes songs recorded during their 1975-1979 period, as well as a few new ones added, to bring the total to 14 tracks. If you want what the The Copas Brothers was all about, then this surely sounds like the right collection!

From the start through the middle and up to now you get a complete musical journey of The Copas Brothers on this album. It is clear from listening to tracks like “Rodeo”, “Live It Together”, “River Road”, “Delta To The Rockies”, “Things We Said” and “Better Day”, that the band had mastered their blend of country, bluegrass and blues within a Southern rock context and found a way to make it really catchy.

But it is on the “Towboat Song” that Randy, Pat, L.J., Dickie and Don display all their catchy craft. The song contains a superb verse melody, memorable chorus, and just all-round great playing. It’s a perfect song, and honestly strikes me as more authentic than most artists who’ve attempted the same style of crossover country-rock but never able to pull it off with the same kind of satisfying results.

the-copas-brothers-band-400I am not a huge fan of this band from their glory days, in fact the only songs by them I’ve heard are on this album, so I’m absolutely impartial, and can truly say that The Copas Brothers instantly convinced me as being the real thing. Hardly will you find bands able to deliver country, bluegrass, and Western swing elements with such ease and authenticity.

The “Towboat Song” draws the band more towards a more mainstream sound, and even though the ‘weed-loving’ lyrics may still be a little too ‘strong’ for FM radio, the mesmerizing vocals, musicality and melody is way more intoxicating than any weed will ever be!

The studio and live versions of the “Towboat Song” can both be found on the “Brothers & Sisters Anthology Vol. 2” album, and is the best representation of both ends of The Copas Brothers’ sound spectrum, as the band rambled, stomped and sang their way to a mighty climax on the 1976 live version.

This will bring back great memories for real fans, I’m pretty for sure. You obviously had to be there to get it any better, and that ain’t gonna happen anymore so the “Brothers & Sisters Anthology Vol. 2”  album is a good as it will get for you if you weren’t there!


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