Oct 27

20th Anniversary Tour Kickoff at Jamestown Opera House, Sat November 22nd

2001 - Gary Sutton Sr., William Sutton, Ed Jones, Gary Deer Jr., Jess Young, Layla Nelson, Gery L. Deer, and Gary Deer Sr.

2001 – Gary Sutton Sr., William Sutton, Ed Jones, Gary Deer Jr., Jess Young, Layla Nelson, Gery L. Deer, and Gary Deer Sr.


JAMESTOWN, OH – On a cold, winter night, just after the Deer family Christmas party in December of 1994, something historic took place. William Sutton, his brother Gary “Tuff” Sutton, Sr., and their nephews, Gery Deer and Gary Deer, Jr., did something they’d never done before. They all met up on a Friday night at the Deer family farm in Jamestown and collected their musical talents into what would become a lifelong undertaking.

While William and Tuff had played together many times over the years, the Deer brothers had never made the attempt. Tuff had helped Gery develop his natural piano skills and Gary Jr. hadn’t played his drums much after graduating high school in Fairborn in the early 1970s. But when they sat down, something really amazing happened, they just “worked.”

Tuff took on the lead and rhythm guitar duties. William was initially the group’s bass player, but picked up his dusty bow and took over the fiddle spot once family friend Jess W. Young, of Fairborn, signed on, and then there were five.

Originally called simply, “The Brothers,” the band went through a lot of changes in its first year or two, adding and subtracting musicians, but always maintaining the two sets of brothers as the foundation. By 1996, a decision was made to change the group’s name, adding, “& Co.” (and company), allowing them to add and subtract whomever they wanted without much of a branding problem, so long as Gery and Gary Jr. at least remained. Somewhere along the way, Gery and Gary Jr. decided that the group was made up more of “entertainers” than trained musicians, so that was tagged onto the name too – “The Brothers & Co. Entertainers.”

The original "Brothers" ... William Sutton and Gary "Tuff" Sutton, Sr.

The original “Brothers” … William Sutton and Gary “Tuff” Sutton, Sr.

By 1996, Ed Jones had joined up on banjo and acoustic guitar. A cousin to the Deer brothers and another nephew of the Suttons, he also had never played together with his family before in this way. Sadly, the family lost Uncle Tuff Sutton to cancer in 2005, and William stayed with the group only a short time after and also passed away a few years later. Jess Young also retired from the group due to health reasons and passed away shortly after.

“None of who we are now would have happened without each of them,” Gery remembers of his family members who have passed on, including his mother, Lois, who died in 2011 after suffering for several years from Alzheimer’s disease. “We are who we are because of them and my mother was, essentially, the anchor. It was because of her that my brother and I are here and that the others came together with us. We couldn’t have done this without them.” But the changes weren’t over yet.

From inception until about 2004, the boys had maintained an instrumental bluegrass persona. But one Saturday night, shortly after a family friend, Jim Karns of Fairborn, joined the group, something odd happened. As Gery puts it, “We opened our mouths and a terrible, awful, nails on the chalkboard vocal rendition hit the air, as if four birds had flown headlong into a window while screeching at the top of their lungs.”

In truth, the experiment had landed them in uncharted waters. Although Ed had done some singing, and Jim, as the most experienced of the lot having performed in theater productions while in school at Kettering Fairmont, Gery and Gary Jr. had virtually no singing experience. But there were some golden nuggets amidst the muddy waters of their vocalization.

The Brothers & Co. music rehearsal room at the family farm. Built in 1997.

The Brothers & Co. music rehearsal room at the family farm. Built in 1997.

Beginning with The Statler Brothers classic, “Bed of Roses,” they worked hard every week in rehearsals, trying to find their respective parts until everything finally fell into place and they had become singers, as well as naturally talented musicians. The expanded repertoire and variation of music required instrument and key changes that caused stage shows to slow to a crawl. But Gery and Jim had a solution for that problem as well and, as in the past with this group, Mother Necessity birthed yet another Brothers & Co. innovation – one they like to call, “comagic.

In addition to having a great set of bass pipes to sing with, Jim was also a classical stage magician. He and Gery had met while working for an engineering center in Dayton and found they had a couple of common interests, the least of which was a somewhat disturbed sense of humor. Not in the way people usually think of “comedy” today, however. This was clean, silly, Vaudevillian one-liner kind of comedy – of a kind that could be used to kill time during a show for instrument changes or set adjustments, and there was the happy accident. Writing original comedy routines around simple punch lines and building in some basic magic pieces, “comagic,” allowed the guys to continue the show’s pace.

In creating simple, time-killing comedy routines, the boys also built a new personality for a show. By adding a few magic tricks and some of Gery’s bullwhip routines, each of which could incorporate more than one or two members of the band, they could also add a new dimension to the show. It worked and “The Brothers & Co. Entertainers” became, “The Brothers & Co. Music and Variety Show.”

After two decades of constant evolution, weekly rehearsals, and shows that spanned everything from coffee shops to casinos, The Brothers & Co. have more to offer than just four guys standing around singing. They are a full, family-friendly, stage variety show that can perform virtually anywhere. Their signature black, western outfits are a tribute to their family’s country music heritage.

The Brothers & Co. bus, "Noah's Ark," with the Dayton skyline behind.

The Brothers & Co. bus, “Noah’s Ark,” with the Dayton skyline behind.

“If you’ve ever seen The Statler Brothers, they’re almost as good as we are,” jokes Gary Deer, Jr., percussionist of the group. “Mostly, we want to entertain people and give them a show like most haven’t seen since the 60’s,” he says. It should be mentioned as well, that Gary Jr. added one of the most important “characters” to the band’s image, the group’s tour bus named, “Noah’s Ark.” Since acquiring the 1972 Silver Eagle cruiser, the adventures they’ve had going from one place to another have spawned their own series of published stories and the “Ark” has even been entered in car shows, always a favorite of visitors to tour and learn from.

As for the show, while it might seem like it to some, the guys insist this show is not just for the older generation. “We put a modern spin on an old kind of entertainment that’s nostalgic and originally presented all at the same time,” says Jim Karns. “If you’ve never seen a live variety show, this is something the whole family will really enjoy.”

Since those early days, The Brothers & Co. have performed at some pretty high-end venues. The first show in 1995 was put on to celebrate the 50th birthday of their late cousin, Larry Sutton. But once they got out on the road, they started out doing fairs and festivals but eventually landed the casino resorts of French Lick, Indiana, the Schuster Performing Arts Center and Victoria Theatre in Dayton, Ohio, the Paint Valley Jamboree in Bainbridge, Ohio, and countless other venues all around the region.


On Saturday, November 22nd, the group will take the stage once again of the newly-renovated Jamestown Opera House, 19 N. Limestone St., Jamestown, Oh 45335, for a pre-holiday, 20th anniversary tour kick off performance, one night only. The 90-minute, live stage show is a one-of-a-kind performance perfect for all ages, full of amazing four-part harmonies, foot-tapping instrumentation, dazzling bullwhip handling, award-winning classic magic and side-splitting comedy routines.

Media Sponsors: 91.3FM WYSO Public Radio and WDTN / Living Dayton Channel 2

Tickets at the door are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and students. Children 12 and under are free. and Tickets are available at the door the night of the show and for presale at Ted’s Barber Shop, 3 W. Washington St. in Jamestown. Proceeds from this performance benefit the Jamestown Area Historical Society. More information is available from The Brothers & Co. website, thebrothersandcompany.com, and from their Facebook page. Download the poster for this show!