The Southern Comfort Band’s rebel yell was quelled to a whisper last week after the (slightly) better-known liqueur company finally got the Bay Ridge troupe to give in and change its name.
The classic-rock tribute band is now called “SCB.”
It all stems from a series of cease-and-desist letters that Eddie Sarkis and his bandmates started receiving last year from the makers of Southern Comfort, who threatened legal action if the name wasn’t changed.
“The Southern Comfort brand has a strong connection with music, and the public associates the Southern Comfort brand and its products with music,” lawyer Jill Jacobs said in a Sept. 2 letter to lead guitarist Sarkis. “Your band members’ use of ‘Southern Comfort’ in your band’s name … is likely to cause the public to mistakenly believe that you are associated with, authorized by, or sponsored by Southern Comfort Properties when they are not.”
Sarkis ignored the letter, and the next few — but eventually decided to switch to “SCB” so he and his bandmates could TCB.
“Look, we just want to play music — Bay Ridge needs this,” said Sarkis, known best for his covers of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers. “[Southern Comfort] sent me two more cease-and-desists, and I just want to fly under the radar.
“We’re going with SCB so we can keep doing what we love,” he concluded.
Sarkis has multiple Bay Ridge legacies. On Saturday night, he played a show with his other group, Head Over Heels, at the Greenhouse Café on Third Avenue between 77th and 78th streets, where a huge crowd spilled into the streets.
It’s unclear whether Sarkis will change the name of his Web site, currently www.southerncomfortmusic.com, or even whether Southern Comfort would continue hounding him (representatives of the booze company have been unreachable for weeks).
The company’s policy about going after groups with the “Southern Comfort” moniker remains unclear. Courts have upheld the rights of copyright owners in cases when other businesses’ use of the same name confuses the public, but makers of the sweet liqueur have apparently not sent cease-and-desist letters to a yearly transgender event in Atlanta called the Southern Comfort Conference. And it seems the company has missed the Southern Comfort Maltese Rescue group, which is dedicated to caring for tiny dogs.
Regardless, Sarkis and the band won’t give up on what they do best for some liqueur company. They have a show lined up on Friday at the Bally Bunion on Third Avenue near 95th Street, where Sarkis promises an “SCB” banner and some straight-ahead Southern rock.
“We’re coming out of Bay Ridge very successful, and we have 30 years of good people and music to thank for that,” Sarkis said. “We won’t stop now.”
In other words, “Freebird!”