For a Saturday Night in Denver there was a lot going on. Railroad Earth was hosting a three night slam at The Ogden, Dave Watts was leading a Super Jam at the 1 UP, Dumpstaphunk was co-headlining Cervantes with The Greyboy Allstars, not to mention Particle and Terrapin Flyer both had shows that evening. With the massive pile of music happening I chose another route. The Devil Makes Three had a sold out show at The Fillmore. When we arrived the line stretched the entire length of Clarkson Street. We waited patiently and made our way inside to see opener Joe Pug warm up the crowd.
Austin, Texas continues to be a hotbed of musical activity. Case in point Joe Pug is yet another export from Bat City by way of all over. He seems to be an artist from a bygone era. It’s easy to make the comparison to a young Bob Dyan or possibly to Todd Snider. Pug appeared onstage flanked by a standup bassist and an electric guitarist. Early in the set Pug treated fans to a potent “I Do My Father’s Drugs.” As a performer Pug is part storyteller, part singer/songwriter, and all entertainment. Before going into a broodingly beautiful “Deep Dark Wells” he told the audience it was by Tex Thomas. Musically, Pug maintains a gentle control steeped in the traditions of Americana and folk. His vocals are finely polished yet utterly authentic, and set against a straightforward approach to instrumentation. Pug has all the elements to be the new messiah of folk.
The Devil Makes Three took us on a two-hour ride through the land of cowpunk and rowdiness. The eclectic crowd featured everyone spiked-leather clad anti-establishment types to tie-dyed in the wool hippies. The Fillmore has long been a Denver institution since it first opened as a roller rink in 1907. Prior to re-opening under The Fillmore marquee in 1999 it was known as Mammoth Gardens. DM3 came out heavy with a tight version of “The Bullet.” Fan favorite “All Hail” came quickly behind.
The room was definitely at capacity, but there was something different. The audience was utterly locked in with the band. Nowadays and I feel particularly in Denver oftentimes attendees are more engaged with the social aspects of the concert than the music. The result is a lot of chatter. At the Devil Makes Three show I didn’t hear people talking. It was almost a foreign concept. They went into their energetic rendition of the standard “Statesboro Blues” originally by Blind Willie McTell. “40 Days” gave singer Pete Bernhard a chance to really belt it out.
DM3 brought out additional instrumentalist throughout their set including a pair of fiddle players and a cellist. They did just that before a particularly bouncy “Hallelu.” Lucia Turino was mesmerizing behind the bass while Cooper McBean tied it all together brilliantly with his banjo. The sinister “Tow” came next followed by a dark “Graveyard.” They rounded out their set with several fan favorites including their classic ode to Jack Daniels “Old Number 7” as well as their anthem “Do Wrong Right.” The entire set was engaging and well thought out. It’s had to believe that a band with such an uncomplicated and candid approach to song craft could pull in so many dedicated followers.
The power of the Devil Makes Three is in their intricate lyrics and simple styling. They sing from the everyman’s perspective and they give us a chance to loose ourselves in the story. The Devil Makes Three has just announced a show at Red Rocks supporting Trampled By Turtles, and it is already sold out. It seems that the appetite for good bluegrass on the Front Range is insatiable. The Devil Makes Three gives fans a unique and engaging musical experience. Keep your eye on their tour schedule if you want to see them live. They seem to be selling out shows far in advance, wherever they go.