From The Side of the Road… further thoughts on band naming conventions

There was interesting response to last week’s discussion about naming bands after their “hit” songs.

One grammar specialist thought it should have been “Doyle Lawson and The Yellows River”rather than “Yellow Rivers,” but at this point that seems like splitting hairs.

Straying somewhat from the subject of naming bands after their songs, but weighing in on the more general band-naming process, Mark Sukoenig brought up a whole other genre of bluegrass band name, which is the bluegrass play on words. In a Facebook post Mark mentioned having been inspired by the 1970s band name Grass Food & Lodging (a very good band, by the way, featuring the lead vocals of Dede Wyland). Mark’s experience working with the Blue Cross/Blue Shield company led him to come up with the band name Blue Grass/Blue Shield, which I like a lot, in spite of the irony that any band named that will still be very unlikely to offer medical insurance to its members.

In some ways, the 1970s was the heyday of the play-on-words or pun band name. It was in that decade that Lester Flatt named his band The Nashville Grass, based on Danny Davis’ Nashville Brass, and there was the aforementioned Grass Food & Lodging. Some friends of mine in Chicago had a band called Grass Plus (now available in an ammonia-free formula!). There was actually a four-piece band that went by Four Ounces of Grass, and they were a pretty traditional band, too. I’m not making any of this up.

In many ways, the 1970s are back again, from the leisure suit (in some circles), to Russian invasions, to the designated hitter. We might as well do our best to revive this form of bluegrass band name.

The problem, of course, is that the potential plays on words are pretty limited because it almost always comes down to just a play on word, singular: the word “grass.”

On top of that, the words you can use to substitute “grass” for are also limited: you’ve mainly got “glass,” “gas,” “brass,” and “cross.” Digging a little further, I came up with “mass,” “class,” “pass,” and finally, “ass.”

This is still a decent amount to work with. Here are some I came up with. Please note: this is in no way an effort to come up with good band names; this is merely an attempt to come up with some band names. Some have likely been used before. As I said, people were already dipping into this well in the ’70s as often as they were singing Rocky Mountain High.

You’re free to use any of these names you like. In fact, please take them off my hands:

Using “brass”:

  • Grass Knuckles
  • The Tijuana Grass
  • The Canadian Grass
  • Grass Tacks (Grass Tax also works)

Using “gas”:

  • The Grasslighters (a fairly current concept)
  • Grass Pump
  • Grassline Antifreeze
  • Grass Generator
  • Mid-grade Grass (if you don’t want to raise expectations)
  • Inert Grass

Using “glass”:

  • Grass Ceiling
  • Shards of Grass
  • Shattered Grass
  • Heart of Grass (Blondie tribute band)
  • Blown Grass

I know these have already been used, but:

  • Grass Menagerie
  • Stained Grass

Using “class”:

  • Grass Action Suit
  • Grass Warfare
  • Grass Distinctions
  • Upper Middle Grass

Using “mass” (less potential here):

  • Grass Media
  • Benign Grass
  • Grass Hysteria
  • Grassachussets

Using “cross”:

(Warning: some of these are irreverent, but wouldn’t be if used for gospel bands, gospel music already being well ahead of us in the use of the play-on-words, e.g. “Sonshine,” “Casting Crowns,” etc ):

  • Stations of the Grass
  • Take Up Your Grass
  • American Red Grass (for a Republican bluegrass band)
  • International Red Grass (for a socialist bluegrass band—don’t blame me: this political color-coding no longer makes any sense)

Using “ass” (if this makes it past the stringent Bluegrass Today censor panel):

  • Kicking Grass (already used multiple times, I know)
  • Grass-whupping
  • Grasshat
  • Grassinine
  • Dumbgrass (not recommended)

Using “pass”:

  • Lateral Grass
  • Screen Grass
  • Two-line Grass (hockey reference)
  • Grass/Fail

And on that note . . .