The Devil Makes Three perform at the ASCAP Music Café, photo by Stephanie Nitsch.
Look past the Hollywood celebs and sponsored storefronts, and the Sundance Film Festival is still most definitely about cultivating an emerging group of creative storytellers and artists. While the silver screen gets most of the attention, music has been sharing that stage for many years.
Well, technically it has its own stage, thanks to the singer-songwriter organization known as ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). For years, the ASCAP Music Café, an official venue of the festival, has been a hub for hosting musical artists every Sundance, reinforcing the collaborative partnership that exists between music and film. The venue is also parallel to what the Sundance Institute is all about, supporting risk-taking singers and songwriters with a space to explore their pursuits free from commercial influences.
Throughout the festival, the ASCAP Music Café hosts a few dozen artists and groups for 30-minute sets. One such group is The Devil Makes Three, a jam-y, ragtime Americana band from Vermont that blends genres influenced by mountain music as much as zydeco rhythm and blues. Their short-and-sweet performance at the ASCAP Music Café—and full-set performance at The Depot on Wednesday, Jan. 22—marks the start of a month-long tour around the West, promoting their latest album, I’m a Stranger Here.
The Devil Makes Three singer Pete Bernhard, photo by Stephanie Nitsch.
Frontman singer/guitarist Pete Bernhard, along with upright bassist Lucia Turino and guitarist Cooper McBean, bring their prominent bass-thumping rhythms and amplified harmonies into a joyous but gritty album described as “part road songs, part heartbreak songs and part barnburners.”
Needless to say, it’s an album riddled with emotional storytelling, as Bernhard waxes lyrical about struggles with relationships, nostalgic memories of childhood and friendships affected by addiction. For a band who thrives on lives shows, producing the album itself is as much of a story as the individual songs.
“We always have a really great time playing live, and it’s hard to take that energy and bring it into the studio,” says Bernhard. “We pretty much performed live and added a bunch of guest musicians. I think we’ve solved the puzzle in terms of knowing what to do in the future and how to capture the best possible sound.”
Using Dan Auerbach’s (Black Keys) recording studio in Nashville, TN, Bernhard and his bandmates worked with producer Buddy Miller to bottle this dynamic energy into a album that speaks lyrically of The Devil Makes Three’s storytelling abilities. “This last album is the best reflection of what we’re like as a band and the energy we get when playing live,” says Bernhard.
The Devil Makes Three will perform at The Depot on Wednesday, Jan. 22. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 the day of. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. Must be 21+. thedevilmakesthree.com