The Coffis Brothers: Classic California harmonies

The Coffis Brothers | Bethany Johanna

Something special about California is that everything seems to grow here including original music.

In fact, it’s hard to imagine the Coffis Brothers coming up anywhere else. They are the perfect amalgam of Bakersville country, Laurel Canyon cool and San Francisco abandon.

Kellen and Jamie Coffis grew up in the small beach town of Aptos in Santa Cruz County. Their mother was a children’s singer who taught them how to warble three-part harmonies with the youngest, Kellen, on melody. On long car rides, they listened to polyphonic groups such as The Beatles and The Everly Brothers. Kellen learned to play guitar, Jamie the piano.

“When we were kids, it felt like music was there always,” says Kellen on his way downHighway 9 to teach a guitar lesson. We used to sing into an old phone answering machine. That was our recording system. We were singing harmonies together before I even knew what that was.”

As they grew up, they grew apart, as brothers tend to do but only for a while. In their early 20s, Jamie and Kellen reconnected with a ripened love of music. They started doing songs by Tom Petty and other classic artists from the 60s and 70s. The harmonies, of course, came back effortlessly.

Longtime friend Kyle Poppen joined on lead guitar and The Coffis Brothers band was born. Now, with Aidan Collins on bass and Cory Graves on drums, the band is a magnetic force of classic California rock brimming with easy harmonies, hooky songwriting and just the right amount of twang.

Take one listen to charming tracks such as “Ramona” and “The One That Got Away” from their 2022 “Turn My Radio Up” and you’ll surely agree. They recently completed mixes on a follow-up LP scheduled for release this fall.

“The songs do feel like we are in our 30s now, whatever that means. There’s a few lines about car trouble and house plants dying. A few less love songs. We’ve been playing in this band for 12 years and experienced quite a bit together. While we always do it in sort of a light-hearted way, there’s a little bit of reflection on that. I’ll have to listen to it again to figure out what it all means.”

The upcoming album (their sixth) was recorded in the studio of Northern California music icon Tim Bluhm of The Mother Hips.

We’ve been fans of his for a long time and we always thought when we’d earned enough credit, we’d reach out to him,” says Coffis. After that, we hit it off really well and we’ve since become good friends.

Coming from a musician they love and respect, Bluhm’s support and guidance goes a long way in the competitive, sometimes discouraging, world of live music.

You see so many other people doing what you’re trying to do. You play a show and no one comes out. It’s easy to say, ‘This isn’t working. Right off the bat, Tim gave us belief in our songs and our ability to sing.

As far as brothers go, Kellen and Jamie are closer than ever.

It’s always been the two of us,” says Coffis. We’ve been there the whole time together. And at this point, we realize that this band is a pretty important thing. We’ve got each other’s backs. We don’t always agree on everything because you’re not going to, but we’ve got a good perspective on supporting each other. We’re older and more mature than when we started. We both have opinions, but ultimately, we settle in a good spot.”

The Coffis Brothers will perform at Valhalla Tahoe’s Boathouse Theater on the Tallac Historic

Site in South Lake Tahoe on June 5 at 7:30 p.m. They also play with Tim Bluhm on July 7 at 7 p.m. at Three Sheets Brewing Company at Moe’s BBQ in Tahoe City. | coffisbrothers.com, valhallatahoe.com


Valhalla Tahoe Art, Music & Theatre Festival

Tallac Historic Site, South Lake Tahoe

June 5 | The Coffis Brothers

June 12 | Wolf Jeff

June 26 | Botanical Candle Making

June 30 | Red Dirt Ruckus (free concert)

July 5-July 14 | Enter the Guardsman musical

July 16 | Kimmi Bitter

July 16 | Linoleum Cut Printmaking

July 17 | The Novelist Reunion Show

July 23 | Tahoe Improv Players

July 24 | Remembering James Tribute to James Brown

July 28 | Boot Juice (free concert)

July 30 | Textiles art class

July 31 | Loud as Folk Songwriter Showcase

Aug. 2 | Young Shakespeare

Aug. 4 | Gatsby Tea Festival

Aug. 4 | Anaïs Reno

Aug. 7 | The Amador Sons

Aug. 8 | Tahoe Improv Players

Aug. 14 | Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands

Aug. 18 | Dirty Cello (free concert)

Aug. 21 | The Illeagles

Aug. 28 | TBD

Sept. 12-22 | Fall play

Sept. 25 | Living History

Nov. 2-3 | Wordwave One Act Play Competition

Nov. 13-17 | Guilty Christmas musical