The Devil Makes Three

Red Butte Garden and Wells Fargo Present

The Devil Makes Three

The Wood Brothers, Murder By Death

Wed · May 23, 2018

Doors: 5:30 pm / Show: 6:30 pm

$40.00 - $47.00

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The Devil Makes Three
The Devil Makes Three
Pete Bernhard – vocals/guitar
Cooper McBean – guitar/banjo
Lucia Turino – upright bass

"There's a road that goes out of every town. All you've got to do is get on it," Pete Bernhard says.

The guitarist/singer and his cohorts in the raw and raucous trio The Devil Makes Three have found their way onto that road numerous times since they first left their picaresque rural hometown of Brattleboro, Vermont. Back then, they had no idea it would lead them to such auspicious destinations as the Newport Folk and Austin City Limits Festivals, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza, and on tours with Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell and Trampled By Turtles. Along the way, they drew numerous accolades from a growing fan base and press alike.

TDM3's travels and travails serve as inspiration for their fourth album and their New West Records debut, I'm a Stranger Here, produced by Buddy Miller and recorded at Dan Auerbach's (Black Keys) Easy Eye Sound Studio in Nashville.

With upright bassist Lucia Turino and guitarist Cooper McBean, Bernhard crafted a dozen tunes, part road songs, part heartbreak songs and part barnburners. While most bands are propelled from behind by a drummer, TDM3 builds exuberant rhythms from the inside out, wrapping finger-picked strings and upsurging harmonies around chugging acoustic guitar and bass, plying an ever-growing audience onto its feet to jump, shake and waltz.

TDM3's sound is garage-y ragtime, punkified blues, old n' new timey without settling upon a particular era, inspired as much by mountain music as by Preservation Hall jazz. "We bend genres pretty hard," Bernhard says.

The combination could only have happened via the circuitous route each of them took to forming the band. As kids in Vermont, "all raised by sort of hippie parents" who exposed them to folk, blues and jugbands, Bernhard says, they blazed a path to nearby Boston, Massachusetts in search of punk rock shows. They found venerable venues like The Rat and The Middle East, drawn to east coast bands like the Dropkick Murphys and Aus-Rotten.

"It would be like 6 bucks for 13 bands, everyone playing for 20 minutes," Bernhard says. "I had so much fun going to shows like that. The energy coming off the stage makes a circle with the crowd and comes back. We were really attracted to that energy."

Bernhard and McBean, a multi-instrumentalist who plays banjo, musical saw and bass, forged a particular bond. Unlike most of their mutual friends, they both liked to play acoustic music, with McBean showing Bernhard the wonders of Hank Williams and Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys. They kept in touch after high school, when nearly everyone in their clique relocated to the west coast like the characters in Delbert McClinton's song "Two More Bottles of Wine."

"It was a mass exodus of kids who went out to start bands and be creative, searching for the unknown, dreaming of something different," Bernhard says. "We wanted to get away from where we were from, as many kids do, and California was the farthest we could get." Eventually they landed in sunny Santa Cruz, California, where TDM3 took shape in 2001. Their early gigs were house concerts, then small bars, punk shows, bigger rock clubs and theaters and festivals, all the while defying genre and delighting whomever turned up to listen.

Turino learned bass to join the band, but her unremitting sense of rhythm comes naturally from being raised by parents who were dance teachers, and from her own dance background. Attacking the strings of her upright, she understands how to infuse songs with the force it takes to get a crowd moving.

And the songs on I'm a Stranger Here tell the rest of the story, with the music often joyously juxtaposed against lyric darkness…the rootless nature of being in a touring band, traveling from town to town with little sense of community, represented by a devil-like character ("Stranger")...thorny transitions into adulthood…struggling with relationships ("Worse or Better"), watching friends succumb to addiction ("Mr. Midnight"), coming to terms with mortality ("Dead Body Moving"), nostalgic notions of childhood ("Spinning Like a Top"). Bernhard even considers the destruction of changing weather patterns, inspired in part by Hurricane Katrina as well as a flood that wreaked havoc in Brattleboro ("Forty Days," a gospel rave-up recorded with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band).

Bernhard wrote more than 20 songs for the album and turned them over to producer Buddy Miller, who gravitated toward the darker material but insured that the recording was lit up by the band's innate ebullience. It was Miller's idea to record at Easy Eye rather than his renowned home studio. "Easy Eye is like Sun Records," Bernhard says. "There's one live tracking room filled with amazing gear, and that defines the kind of record you're going to make. That was exactly the record we wanted to make, and we knew Buddy was the one who could capture us playing together like we do."

For a band that made its bones with dynamic performances, recording an album is almost like coaxing lightning into a bottle, but Miller and TDM3 succeed on I'm a Stranger Here. Now they're continuing the journey that began when they found their way to the road that led them out of Vermont. "I can't wait to get onstage, I love it," Bernhard says. "Playing music for a living is a blessing and a curse, but for us there's no other option."
The Wood Brothers
The Wood Brothers
The cover of The Wood Brothers' gorgeous new album, 'Paradise,' is adorned with an illustration of a mule staring at a carrot dangling just inches in front of its mouth. The carrot, though, is hanging from a stick affixed to the mule's own head. "In some ways, he's already got it," explains guitarist Oliver Wood. "And in some ways, he'll never have it." That paradox is at the core of 'Paradise,' an album about longing and desire and the ways in which the pursuit of fulfillment can keep it perpetually out of our reach. It's a beautiful collection, the band's most sophisticated work to date and also their most rocking, with bassist Chris Wood playing electric on tracks for the first time. Recorded at Dan Auerbach's Easy Eye studio in Nashville, 'Paradise' captures the latest chapter in the ongoing evolution of a band—and a family—navigating the joy and challenges of a life in music. Dubbed "masters of soulful folk" by Paste, The Wood Brothers released their debut studio album, 'Ways Not To Lose,' on Blue Note in 2006. You'd be forgiven at the time for expecting it to be something of a side project. Chris Wood already had legions of devoted fans for his incomparable work as one-third of Medeski Martin & Wood, while his brother Oliver toured with Tinsley Ellis before releasing a half-dozen albums with his band King Johnson. Almost a decade later and with drummer Jano Rix added as a permanent third member, it's become quite clear that The Wood Brothers is indeed the main act. 'Paradise' follows the band's acclaimed 2013 release 'The Muse,' which was recorded almost entirely live around a tree of microphones in Zac Brown's Southern Ground studio. Hailed previously by the New York Times for their "gripping" vocals and by the LA Times for their "taught musicianship," the brothers found the live setting to be a remarkable showcase for their live chemistry and charismatic magnetism. But when it came time to record 'Paradise,' their fifth studio album, the band knew the music called for a different approach. "For this album, we wanted to have a more up-close and dry sound," explains Chris. "I worked on another record at Easy Eye and I just loved the room. Dan's studio is cool because it's not old, but it feels that way when you walk into it. It reminds me of Sun Studios. It just has that feeling of a small room with natural compression, and I think you hear that in the sounds on the record." The decision to record in Nashville was no coincidence either, as this marks the first album written with the entire band living in Music City. "Oliver and I spent a lot of hours just in a room together writing songs," says Chris. "That's really never happened before. All the music in the past was written long distance or over the course of touring. It's definitely the most collaborative album we've ever made."
"It was kind of a luxury to be able to play together not just at a soundcheck," adds Jano. "It was a different starting point. Rather than people bringing in compositions that were relatively finished, we were starting from the ground up as a group." The album opens with "Singing To Strangers," which sets the tone for what's to come both musically and thematically. "Singing to strangers is something we do every night," explains Oliver, "and there's some satisfaction about singing to strangers. It's this weird thing that I think we get addicted to. It's not that we need attention as much as we need connection. On a good night, when we're singing to strangers, everybody in the room bonds, and you have this amazing sense of connection." That desire for connection permeates the album, from "Touch Of Your Hand"—a song about what Chris describes as "the most basic human need that there is"—to "Two Places"—a track about longing for home and family while on the road—to "Never And Always," which examines the fundamental emotional experiences of loneliness and belonging. "Snake Eyes" and "American Heartache" both explore the dark side of longing, how the constant need for more in our consumer culture can engender a perpetual dissatisfaction with never having enough, while on "Without Desire," they find the beauty and the magic that the titular emotion can bring into our lives. "Desire gets a bad rap sometimes," explains Chris, "and people think it's the root of all of our problems. We wanted a song that said, 'Maybe it's not, maybe we need it.' What would it be like if we didn't desire all those good things in life?" In addition to Chris's electric bass, which appears on two tracks, the album also showcases Jano's "shuitar," a portmanteau for "shitty guitar." The name belies the instrument's complexity, though. It's actually an acoustic guitar that Jano has rigged up with noisemakers to function as an easy-to-travel-with drum kit. "I made one in The Wood Brothers because we needed a portable drum set we could take to play on sessions and on the radio," he explains, "but then we've been using it so much live, we started writing for it and not wanting it to even sound like a drum set anymore. We wanted to let it be its own thing." It turns up prominently on "Heartbreak Lullaby," which also features guitar playing from Oliver inspired by field recordings of African folk musicians. There's more to Jano than percussion, though, as he sits down at the piano on several tracks on 'Paradise,' including album closer "River Of Sin." "That song imagines how when people get baptized in a river, it's supposed to wash away their sins," explains Chris. "But what happens to the water? Where do the sins go? And what if you live downstream from all that baptizing?" "A lot of the songs are dealing with these themes of longing and desire," adds Oliver, "but the album finishes with 'River of Sin' because it's a positive and empowering message, which is that you can't really do anything unless you're persistent. The narrator is humble and understands that there are all these things larger than him and he's just trying to understand them and he's determined to do better and be as good as he can. And he recognizes the only way to do that is to keep trying." It's a fitting, lovely, gospel-tinged ending to an album that traces both the darkness and the beauty in our nature, the perpetual hope and the futility of it all. The quest for the carrot often blinds us to the fact that we already possess it, and that's the irony of desire. "He who is not contented with what he has would not be contented with what he would like to have." Socrates said that. "I can't live without desire / If I didn't want anything / Why would I rise? / Why would I sing?" The Wood Brothers said that.
Murder By Death
Murder By Death
American indie rock / alternative country band founded in 2000 in Bloomington, Indiana. Their name is derived from the 1976 Robert Moore film of the same name.
Venue Information:
Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre
2280 E. Red Butte Canyon Road
Salt Lake City, UT, 84108
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