The best live bands are those for whom music is a calling and a passion first, a job second. That’s why the Devil Makes Three is a great live band.
Thursday night, the trio of native Vermonters gave about 250 fans at the VooDoo Lounge a two-hour show brimming with energy and zeal.
The band’s music is a robust blend of styles and eras: old-time country, bluegrass, folk, blues, Western swing, all delivered with a punk attitude. Vocalist/guitarist Peter Bernhard is the trio’s unofficial leader, but he shares the spotlight generously with his accomplices: Cooper McBean, who sings and plays banjo and guitar, and Lucia Turino, who sings and plays standup bass.
The set list showcased “I’m A Stranger Here,” the band’s most recent album -- they played seven of its 10 tracks -- but it featured plenty of songs from all over the band’s catalog, now 12 years old and four albums deep. It also included a few covers, including Mel Tillis’ “Walk On Boy” and Roger Miller’s “(The Day I Jumped) From Uncle Harvey’s Plane.” No matter the songs or their origins, it all meshed seamlessly.
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Each song is cast in similar arrangements, but the trio musters variations in styles. “Stranger,” the opener, bobbed to a gypsy jazz beat. “Beneath the Piano” issued a jaunty old-time pop vibe, “The Bullet,” a track from their 2002 debut, opened with a banjo reel, then burst into a bluegrass tune; “All Hail” had a breezy, country-pop groove. “Aces and Twos” was a high-speed country-punk anthem that sounded like a Split Lip Rayfield cover.
Bernhard took most of the vocal duties, but McBean and Turino also sang lead and both added harmonies all night. On several songs, they were joined by Spencer Swain on fiddle. One of those was “Graveyard,” a solemn, dark bluesy ballad and one of several songs that ignited some hearty singing-along. There was plenty of dancing going on, too, especially on tracks like “Do Wrong Right,” a rousing banjo-centric song that advises: “If you're gonna raise a ruckus, one word of advice / If you're gonna do wrong, buddy, do wrong right.”
There was plenthy of ruckus going on throughout this show, generated by a band that does it all right and has fun doing it.
Stranger; Beneath the Piano; The Bullet; All Hail; Forty Days; This Life; Walk On Boy; Statesboro Blues; The Day (The Day I Jumped) From Uncle Harvey's Plane; Hallelu; Black Irish; Spinning Like a Top; Graveyard; A Moment's Rest; Dragging All Those Chains; Old Number Seven; For Good Again; Worse or Better; Dead Body Moving; Aces and Twos; Do Wrong Right; St. James.