With a down-home sound and a good-time attitude, the Devil Makes Three
feels like the buddies you drink with deep into the night, only to pick up where you left off the next afternoon until you're all face-down in the gutter again. It's dirty business, but as the trio puts it on the title track of last year's third studio album, Do Wrong Right
, "If you're gonna do wrong, buddy, do wrong right."
Fans of such debauchery flock to Devil Makes Three shows like flies to last night's vomit. In this way, the group is kindred to psychobilly freakmaster Reverend Horton Heat and punk-country rock stars the Supersuckers. The Santa Cruz band is less ferocious than its moshpit cousins, though. A mostly acoustic string combo, steeped in the American roots tradition popularized a decade ago on the O Brother, Where Art Thou?
soundtrack, they're hillbilly beach bums, equal parts juke-joint blues and Appalachian bluegrass with an overdose of rock 'n' roll hedonism.
Funny thing is, the members of the Devil Makes Three ain't as stoopid-wild as you might expect. While the music is fairly simple, with often the same three or four chords played repeatedly, the arrangements are well-balanced. Songs interweave finger-picking and hard-strumming styles, break up the tempos to build energy, vary the instrumental timbre, and fuel audience sing-alongs with catchy choruses, three-way harmonies, and round-robin phrasing. Lyrically, main songwriter Pete Bernhard strives for storytelling folksiness and street-poet punch. He blends archetypal and contemporary imagery to mark his tunes with authenticity and originality.
The Devil Makes Three play the Independent tonight and tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ($15-$17).
Click here to read the rest of the profile on the group.