Greenwood band Surrender Cobra just might be pinching themselves.
Friday, they helped open The Local Jam upstairs at Howard’s on Main during this weekend’s epic 20th anniversary South Carolina Festival of Discovery and Greenwood Blues Cruise, getting to sit in with some blues greats.
Plus, Surrender Cobra recently recorded at former studios for Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers and were joined by one of this weekend’s Blues Cruise performers during a recording session, Robert Lee Coleman.
Coleman, of Macon, Georgia, played guitar for Percy Sledge and James Brown. Coleman’s guitar is featured on Brown’s album, “Hot Pants.” Also, check it out on tracks “Revolution of the Mind” and “Make it Funky.”
Surrender Cobra is a music project for Greenwood Mayor Brandon Smith, 41, and his sons, Jarratt, 15, Witt, 13, and Benjo, 9.
Music has long been a passion for Brandon, who plays banjo and is on vocals in the band. Brandon said he has encouraged his children to play musical instruments from the time they were young.
The band’s most recent recording session was with Mercer Music at Capricorn Studios in Macon, Georgia.
During that session, they recorded versions of “Bound for Glory” by Tedeschi Trucks Band, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, “Come Together” by the Beatles, “All Your’n” by Tyler Childers and “Kick Drum Heart” by The Avett Brothers.
Once released, you can hear those Surrender Cobra cover tunes on music streaming platforms. Today, you can check out some of the Smith boys’ earlier recordings as part of the band, O’Doyle Rulz.
“We recorded at Capricorn last week,” bassist and keyboardist Witt said. “It was very nice.”
However, Witt also admits that when playing music together as a family, “sometimes, it’s a little hard to get along.”
“But, you can always speak your truth, because it’s family,” counters Jarratt, who is on lead vocals, guitar, ukulele and keys.
Benjo, drummer, said they even got to meet Otis Redding’s daughter during their recording session.
“This is the recording studio Otis Redding was constructing at the time of his death,” Brandon said. “Afterwards, the Allman Brothers finished construction and for most of the ’70s, it was the place where virtually every great Capricorn record was recorded. ...You can just feel the aura in there of how special a place it is.”
Jarratt said getting to work with recording studios is helpful.
“Sometimes, they give you suggestions on how to make your songs better,” he said.
Surrender Cobra also recently recorded with NFL cornerback Josh Norman at his newly opened teen center in Greenwood.
“Josh Norman was helping sing the chorus on ‘Just A Friend’ by rapper Biz Markie,” Brandon said.
The band also recorded at Ronnie Goldman’s longtime Greenwood studio for a version of The Swingin’ Medallions’ “Double Shot” for a public service announcement about COVID-19 vaccinations.
The band’s name comes from a pose frequently displayed by sports fans after their team has made a disastrous play or the opposing team has made a phenomenal one: hands on the head with elbows splayed to the sides.
Fellow Greenwood musician Nic Massey helps the Smith boys with music lessons and does music arranging for Surrender Cobra.
“The boys’ youthful energy is a plus,” Massey said. “They’re all very naturally musically talented. ...I see big things in the future for each and every one.”
Song arrangements, Massey said, are a collective effort.
“We all just kind of bounce around ideas,” he said. “With them, since they can do so many things, it’s rounding out.”
Massey said he used to teach the Smith boys guitar parts to fill in for keys on some songs. Now, Surrender Cobra has added keys to its multi-instrumental lineup. He also said veteran Greenwood bands like the Swingin’ Medallions light up when these young musicians take the stage.
“We’ve been doing covers, but we are working on originals,” Benjo said. “I’m also taking drum lessons with The Marshall Tucker Band’s Paul Riddle in Greenville.”
Keep up with them at: surrendercobraband.com.