This is real music. It’s not manufactured, spun, twisted, plasticked, or prettified. And that’s why it’s so good.
If you’re looking for some pleasant new music to quietly keep you company at your desk while you work, this is not the music for you. If you want something that will make you type a little faster, thump your heel on the floor, and make the guy next to you wonder why his hand and foot are suddenly bouncing*, then may I suggest Three Times Bad’s first album, American Sojourn.
Their sound is that of an (mostly) organized blue grass jam session. I say mostly because there are a lot of unseen voices in their music, which sound like a bunch of friends singing along, and it’s a nice change from our typical diet of slick, highly produced radio music. This is Americana music, the kind borne of community. Make no mistake. It’s not thrown together. These are singers and musicians who know their craft. It’s what happens when you go to listen to a favorite band live and realize that those are people with voices and instruments, and love them the more for it. It’s real.
cover gross misinterpretation of a Bill Monroe, Mary Jane Hangin’ on the Vine, is a perfect example of this.
The band itself has its origins in the unconventional. Here’s just a bit of their story:
Led by unrepentant freak preacher/transmedia artist Jesus Angel (on acoustic guitar, banjo, and lead vocals), the THREE TIMES BAD collective performs in various configurations, from quartet to duo, and often welcomes guest players on the stage. The current core bandmates include virtuosic mandolinist Doubting Thomas Romero, French Gypsy fiddler St. Jean-Pierre Duboucheron, upright bassist St. Megan McDevitt, and American Heartland fiddler St. Claire Grinton. In the great American roots tradition, everyone in the group sings.
And more of their music, described by the Bend Bulletin as ““This is boot-stompin’, beer-swillin’, muddy roots music, where outlaw bluegrass meets anti-folk meets hillbilly punk in a band of city-dwellers who want nothing more than to be pickin’ and howlin’ from a rickety front porch Appalachia.” and by The Source Weekly as, ““Pass the moonshine! With knee-slapping bluegrass songs about chasing the reverend’s wife, cornbread crumbs and possum stew, Three Times Bad aims to ignite an Appalachian hoedown tonight.”
Their lyrics also carry the kind of weight you’d expect of reflective singer/songwriter music, and while they’ve got sit-by-the-fire humor, songs like No More, No Less come out, and the words make you realize that you need to go back and listen to everything a little more carefully.
Since their start in 2012, THREE TIMES BAD has played more than 100 electrifying shows throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and up and down the Pacific Coast, including all three days at the 2013 Ink n Iron Festival (with headliner Iggy & the Stooges), two consecutive years at the Humboldt Hills Hoedown music fest (with Hellbound Glory, the Brothers Comatose, Hillstomp, Polecat, Dead Winter Carpenters, Hot Buttered Rum, and other world-class roots bands), and the inaugural Boograss! Halloween Hoedown & Burlesque Show (with Pine Box Boys) at Slim’s, one of SF’s premier music venues. The group released a free concert album download — Goodbye Taxes, Hello Mary Jane! Live at the Brick & Mortar — and the single “Possum Stew” appears on both the November benefit compilation (for the Central Oregon nonprofit Healthy Beginnings) and on the compilation CD commemorating the 38th Annual San Francisco Free Folk Festival. (More music after the jump)
Their album is available, full of “alleycat blues, outlaw country, hillbilly swing, Appalachian rags, Gypsy jazz, old-time gospel, murder ballads, honkytonk, folk punk, story songs, and hot singalongs.”
And if you just want to appreciate some good pickin’ listen to this.
*About the bouncing, that’s 100% true. When I was listening to their music and my partner was 5 feet away, he’d been tapping on his art table and jiggling his foot. He looked at his hand, looked at me, and asked what the hell I was listening to. I told him – it happened to be Mary Jane on the Vine, which he immediately identified – and he said, “That’s good!” and kept tapping.