Good Shot Judy
Good Shot Judy

Musician’s journey started in punk and wound up in jazz

Punk rock lured a teenage Brett Cahoon into music.

 “Punk rock is my roots. At 15 years old, I found my dad’s guitar,” said Cahoon, the leader of Good Shot Judy, a jazz band, that will be in concert in Evans March 4. “The Ramones were my religion.”

And punk was good to Cahoo, his brother, Jeff, and their band Ten Years From Now for several years, but life changes things. Marriages, mortgages and kids came along, and the Cahoon brothers found a different focus.

But Brett Cahoon wasn’t interested in giving up on music and performing altogether.

In the 1990s, the swing revival, also known as neo-swing, hit. Bands like Cherry Poppin’ Daddies were on the rise. And Cahoon got caught up in that music in the late 90s.

“I saw Cherry Poppin’ Daddies three times in one year,” said Cahoon.

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That led him down another musical trail. He found himself listening to the songs of another era, the original music that inspired the genre. Frank Sinatra’s Come Fly With Me prompted Cahoon to buy a Sinatra CD, and during a Virginia snowstorm, Cahoon spent three hours listening to Ol’ Blue Eyes croon.

He concedes that his inner 15 year old probably rolled his eyes that day as Cahoon had become a Sinatra fan.

From there, he started listening to other Sinatra contemporaries — Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Dean Martin.

Since he wasn’t in the punk band anymore, he considered learning to play the piano so he could accompany himself for musical gigs in small locations. The transition from punk to jazz was logical, he said.

He started piano lessons at 30 and was introduced to classical music as well. His brother had played bass in the punk band and eventually learned a different type — the upright version. Their first drummer was also a rock ‘n’ roll drummer.

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And Good Shot Judy was born with the only throwback to the punk era being Jeff Cahoon’s long hair.

“Punk rock is always original music,” he said. “With Good Shot Judy, it’s 99 percent other people’s music. But these are the greatest songs over the last 100 years.”

Good Shot Judy, however, puts its own signature on the music.

The band grew from those three original members to a traveling ensemble of eight. During the holidays, it expands to a 20-piece group. Cahoon said he’d love to have more concert dates with that larger group, but it gets expensive traveling with 20 people.

The Virginia-based group performs mostly dates close to home in December.

Good Shot Judy will be on stage at 7:30 p.m. March 4 at the Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $42.95 and are available at or by calling (706) 726-0366.

Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at Subscribe to the newsletter here.

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