Eugene Weekly : Music : 6.21.07

Ragtime is the Devil’s Music
The Devil Makes Three mix and match genres

The Devil Makes Three, The Inkwell Rhythm Makers. 8:30 pm Saturday, June 23. WOW Hall. $10 adv., $12 door

Ragtime/country is the new punk. Well, at least it seems that way. Musicians have put away their electric guitars and fancy amps (who needs electricity anyway?) and sought out instruments that they can take and play anywhere. But what sets these musicians apart from the punk trend is the distinctive sound each band produces.

The Devil Makes Three, like the Inkwell Rhythm Makers, utilizes a ragtime sound from the 1920s and ’30s, but each group works it a little differently. The Devil Makes Three pushes its sound further by incorporating the band members’ early influences, which are, of course, punk. On their website, each member recalls the moment they became interested in punk. Peter Bernhard, who started guitar at age 12, initially became interested in blues musicians like Lightnin’ Hopkins but quickly attached himself to the sound and attitude of punk. Lucia Turino, stand-up bass, found heavy metal at an early age. “I was the coolest little heavy metal second-grader,” she recalls. For music lovers, the first album you own is a precious memory, up there with first date, first cigarette or first beer — and for Turino, that first album was Mötley Crüe’s Dr. Feelgood. And lastly there’s Cooper McBean, guitar, who struggled back and forth with his musical choices. His mother was in a ’70s western swing band, so he revolted by listening to punk and heavy metal but came back to blues and country through a George Gritzbach album.

The band now cites its influences as Steve Earle, The Reverend Gary Davis and The Memphis Jug Band. The influence of these musicians becomes apparent in the band’s style of finger picking as well as in the somber yet agitated mood of their music. Just listen to “Ten Feet Tall” from their first album — it will make you feel like you’re in an old-time Western.