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Down On The Corner
This month's Down On The Corner will be replaced by a review of Devil Makes Three
Santa Cruz, California's The Devil Makes Three finally made an excursion to Derby City in support of their new CD, Stomp And Smash, and delivered a romping, stomping set to a very enthusiastic crowd at sold-out Uncle Slayton's on March 13. Whooping and cheering at the start of nearly every tune, the audience, which included a number of travelers from Bloomington and Fort Wayne, must have been anticipating the appearance by listening to all of DMT's four albums. There was also an unusual mix of folks, including at least a pair of skinheads plainly itching to mosh, which they (thankfully) didn't do. Generally, everybody was moving in some kind of fashion likely to be called dancing, for lack of a better term.
DMT's music is described as a mix of bluegrass, old time music, country, folk, blues, ragtime and rockabilly, if you leave out the bluegrass; in other words, "folk" influences from most of the first half of the twentieth century. No jazz or pop to speak of, though, but there was a definite hint of klezmer – a clarinet would have fit right in. The instrumentation was akin to bluegrass, featuring Pete Bernhard on guitar, Cooper McBean on banjo and guitar and Lucia Turino on double bass, but the playing style would have never passed muster with Mr. Bill. With a lyric content that owed quite a bit to both Woody Guthrie and Ramblin' Jack Elliott (perhaps by way of B. Dylan), DMT's songs are intense, singable and memorable, though lacking the slap-you-in-the-face hooks of modern rock and pop. The word most used in reviews, appropriately, is furious, as in fast and.
The opener, Virginia's Phillip Roebuck was even more plucked out of the early 20th Century. Toting a home-build drum kit of sorts on his back, Roebuck played fast, aggressive songs on a banjo with a pickup, using a steel slide. His was a performance to be amazed at, even if the material might be an acquired taste and not obviously suited for recording. All he lacked was his fiddle, which, he said, a suffered a broken neck early in the tour. He played one of his fast fiddle songs on the banjo; it sounded like a fiddle tune.
DMT was pleased by the response of the crowd; vocalist and guitarist Pete Bernhard scored local points by noting the bassist Lucia Turino's grandmother had come to the sound check and vowed to return, although probably to a bigger room next time.