Devil Makes Three brings the blues

Devil Makes Three brings the blues
May 13, 2009
By Randy Davenport
The Orion

Like a talking snake in Eden, The Devil Makes Three aims to entice. But forget apples full of knowledge — this band plans on tempting crowds with energetic country/blues music.

The Devil Make Three brings a modern bend to old-time string bands. They draw from bluegrass, blues and jug bands, but have rock ‘n’ roll sensibility. Their music is rhythm heavy despite not having a drummer.

But the show will not be without a rhythm section.

Opening act, blues two-piece Hillstomp will open the show with a kit cobbled together from buckets and barbecue lids.

The show will take place Saturday at Manzanita Place. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. It will be an outdoor show with no chairs, so bring a blanket and grab a spot on the lawn. Vendors will be selling food and drinks at the show, which means no outside consumables.

Pete Bernhard, lead singer and guitarist for The Devil Makes Three, is excited to be playing new material live. The band’s third studio album was released April 21 and the members have been touring steadily.

They will be playing a show almost every night from now through July.
The album, “Do Wrong Right,” is the band’s first studio album in four years.

The band recorded the entire album twice, working out the kinks on the first pass and polishing it on the second.

Bernhard grew up listening to blues and country and his musical past heavily influences the type of music he plays now, he said.

Banjoist Cooper McBean has a history playing in jug bands while upright-bassist Lucia Turino comes from punk-rock roots. The band members brought their diverse musical background with them, contributing to the band’s familiar-but-different style.

The Devil Makes Three had a drummer when they started, but he couldn’t tour, Bernhard said. It was one of the factors that defined the band’s style.

“It was always like an accident,” he said. “ I think most bands really are.”

The stripped-down quality of blues appeals to Bernhard because the music is simple but the songs are memorable, he said.

It’s easier for the artist to get a point across if the music isn’t complicated, he said. Sometimes it’s the message that counts.

The book “You Can’t Win” inspired many of the songs on “Do Wrong Right,” Bernhard said. The book is an autobiography of a 1920s thief named Jack Black. An illustration of Black adorns the cover of the album.

Though it’s not a concept album, the songs generally deal with the idea of making the best with what you have. The title track was written by Bernhard’s friend. The lyric “The road don’t go forever so ride it while it lasts,” is Berhnard’s favorite line and he thinks the song does well to summarize the album.

There’s a parallel to the band’s rigorous schedule, he said. The tour will be long and challenging, but it’s what they love to do, so they keep going.

The Devil Makes Three has been playing Chico regularly for the past couple of years, but this will be the band’s first outdoor gig here.

Henry Kammerer, guitarist for Hillstomp, is a long-time fan of The Devil Makes Three and is grateful to be touring with them, he said.

Touring with Bernhard gets Hillstomp into venues they normally wouldn’t play.

Like Bernhard, Kammerer started out playing the music he enjoyed when he was young, he said. Mimicking the styles of artist such as R.L. Burnside helped Kammerer develop his own signature sound, he said.

“When you try to cover someone else’s song and screw up, you get an original,” Kammerer said.

Playing the blues is more about overcoming hardship than being depressed. It can create a bond among people, he said.

Steve Schuman from North Valley Productions has booked several shows for The Devil Makes Three, he said. Each time they return they play bigger venues, most of which sell out before the night of the show.

The band draws a mixed-age crowd, Schuman said. Their stylistic blend appeals to different generations.

“One of my favorite things to do when I see these guys play is watch people have fun and dance their brains out,” he said.
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