Brett Staska Releases New Album “County Line”

By David Rolland

Photos by Meredith Brockington

If you can’t judge a book by its cover, you should probably be just as open minded about a band. When I saw Brett Staska and his four-piece band set up their gear on the tiny stage at O’Sheas Irish Pub, they looked like surfers, so I was preparing for a reggae cover band. I was pleasantly surprised to hear something different. So different I couldn’t put an easy label on it.

The songs had too much twang to be considered rock, too much focus to be a jam band, and more urgency than you’d expect from country. Brett, who is in fact a surfer, calls his sound “Coastal Cowboy.”

He was calling his music that before it was a trendy term. True story.

The Loxahatchee native plays bass for the reggae band Roots Shakedown, but for his solo albums he’s tried to play around with different genres. “I think it’s important to have a wide variety of influences and styles that you are able to draw from,” Brett tells Atlantic Current. “For instance, my 2015 debut EP ‘No Worries’ has a distinct folk-rock sound, while my 2020 release ‘Love/ Time’ has a more indie-rock based sound. 2017’s ‘Gimme Gimme’ is pure rock ’n’ roll while 2021’s ‘Still on My Mind’ is pure country. When it comes to creating original music, I try not to box myself in with labels.”

He names everyone from Willie Nelson to Tom Petty as influences. But when he mentions Gram Parsons, you get a feel about what Brett is going for. With his long hair and cowboy surfer wardrobe, you can definitely see a resemblance between Brett and the one-time The Flying Burritos Brothers and The Byrds guitarist who left a major mark on Americana music, influencing everyone from The Rolling Stones to Emmylou Harris. Parsons, who was also born in Florida, called his music, “cosmic cowboy” which definitely sounds like a forefather of “coastal cowboy.”

Doing something different left Parsons with a smaller audience than he probably deserved. Brett can kind of relate. “Some people don’t really get what I’m trying to do as far as blending surf and country sounds together. And it is hard to turn people on to country music that are so adamantly against it. It is probably the one genre that young people dislike the most.”

With his new album “County Line” due out November 8, he’s hopeful people young and old will listen without musical prejudice. He thinks the first single “American Music Scene” is among his best work. “It’s an ode to all the hard-working musicians out there, hustling whatever gigs might come their way. Personally, I’ve played funerals, tiki bars, honky tonks, jazz clubs, punk clubs, night clubs, churches, weddings, bowling alleys… you name it. A gig is a gig, and this song can relate.”

He’ll play all those new tunes at a record release party on November 8 at Guanabanas, which will be accompanied by a short film. Whether the film fits the coastal cowboy genre or not, you’ll just have to come out to see.


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