Big Medicine Head
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Big Medicine Head

Sacramento, California, United States

Sacramento, California, United States
Band Americana Alternative


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Rex Hotel (Broken Records)
The Queen of the Western Hemisphere (MEC Records)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Big Medicine Head began with a few guys bashing out in a basement underneath a bar in Santa Cruz, California. Soon, the band graduated to playing actual gigs, and the road took them through college towns across California, trashy neon bars in Reno, roadhouses in Illinois, to Greenwich Village in New York.

Influenced by Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, The Replacements, and Dionne Warwick, Big Medicine Head creates music that applies driving rock and pop sensibilities to deceptively textured lyrics.

The band's first record "Rex Hotel" (Broken Records) is a portrait of the American landscape seen through the windshield of a car. Ranging from the gritty riff-driven rock of "Lonesome Desert Crawl" to the Appalachian influenced ballad "Jesus' Favorite Dress", singer/songwriter Robert Gemmell draws word pictures that move from despondence to joy. JD Devros adds mischievous rockers and poetic blues tracks to fill out the sonic spectrum.

The current release "The Queen of the Western Hemisphere" (MEC Records) follows the same thread, but in a brighter, more optimistic vein. From the rock-as-salvation opening riff of "The Twilight Barking Chain" to the closing mandolin strains of "Words Never Get in the Way", Big Medicine Head sends missives home from the end of the trail - sixteen new tracks of progressive Americana in a collection of snapshots from a rolling boxcar or a big block Dodge on an open highway.

The title track is a Route 66 gestalt for the female anima in the age of Republicanism. From there the band covers quite a bit of ground. "The Patron Saint of Desperate Causes" blends Tex-Mex rhythm with a haunting spaghetti western guitar hook and cinematic lyrics. Moving from the wistful country and western reminiscence of "Peaceful as a Sleeping Nun" through nefarious cow-punk exuberance ("10 Miles South of Nowhere") and tender lullabies ("Darling One" and "Invincible"), "The Queen of the Western Hemisphere" could alternately serve as the soundtrack to a sequel to "The Misfits" or the music coming from the dashboard of a Ghost Town bus full of rogues and saviors, on the road to somewhere else.

With "The Queen of the Western Hemisphere" the Sterno Bums production team (Jeff Davis and Robert Gemmell) present an album that is infused with that special poetry that yearns for the recollection of our journey's often simple but significant human encounters. This is a recording you can listen to on your sofa or in your convertible on the way to a gritty bar in a small western town for a night that won’t end well.

Big Medicine Head has been reviewed favorably in many publications, including BAM Magazine, the Music Independent, and The San Jose Mercury. Big Medicine head was featured (along with Steve Earle and They Might Be Giants) on the CMJ CD compilation.

As Robert Gemmell explains in the liner notes, “There’s a line from now to a long time ago, and I wrote these songs to trace its arc. From my second grade pal helping out with the album cover, through all the friends who’ve been along for the ride, from Santa Cruz to Reno to New York and back, and to recording again with JeffyD and JD – the finest gentlemen on the planet – this has been a wonderful trip. We hope everyone enjoys listening to it as much as we did recording it.”

Band Members:
Robert Gemmell - songwriter/singer, vocals, guitar, mandolin
JD Devros - songwriter/singer guitar, vocals
Jeff Davis - drums, bass, lap steel, vocals
Bruce Rockwell - vocals, guitar, bass
Johnny McGuire - vocals, guitar, banjo, bass

More information about Big Medicine Head can be found on their website at, and on ITunes, CDBaby, Amazon, and other online stores.

Contact Big Medicine:
Robert Gemmell
4025 McClain Way #23
Carmichael CA 95608