The Devil Makes Three

Origin: Santa Cruz, California

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Genres: acoustic trio, bluegrass-folk, jug & rag, punk

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As a drummerless acoustic trio consisting of two guitarists and a string bassist, the Devil Makes Three are not your normal alt-country band. While deeply rooted in the blues and country music, they enthusiastically incorporate elements of bluegrass, ragtime, and jug band traditions as well.

The group also makes no bones about its punk rock influences, and despite the lack of a drummer, it always plays with the needs of dancers in mind. Although the Devil Makes Three consist entirely of New Englanders (two members are from Vermont and one is from New Hampshire), the group formed in Santa Cruz, California and self-released its eponymous debut in 2002.

Its sophomore effort, Longjohns, Boots and a Belt, was released in 2004, followed by a live album titled A Little Bit Faster and a Little Bit Worse. The Devil Makes Three then signed to Milan Records, which reissued their debut album. In 2009, the label released the group’s third studio album, Do Wrong Right, which hit number one on the Billboard Bluegrass Albums chart.

Recorded over a two-night stand at the Mystic Theater in Petaluma, California, the live Stomp and Smash appeared in 2011, also on Milan. After a switch to New West Records, they released the impressive, Buddy Miller-produced I’m a Stranger Here in the fall of 2013. It marked the trio’s first appearance on the Billboard 200. They followed it up with a covers album in 2016. Called Redemption & Ruin, the record featured guest spots by names such as Emmylou Harris, Duane Eddy, and Jerry Douglas.

After TDM3 contemplated countless songs to record, a dozen made the cut to be recorded in Nashville this past fall. With those twelve songs (give or take a few bonus tracks…), Redemption & Ruin, consisting of carefully selected hand-picked cover songs, was set into motion. Why so careful you ask? Well, because there were two rules…

Redemption & Ruin has two distinct sides; it’s half gospel songs with a proclivity towards the darker end of the spectrum of religious music (Redemption) and half songs of vice (Ruin). In a very strict sense, the band-members were looking for songs which fully and wholeheartedly fit in one of those two categories. There could be no in between; it was all or nothing. “Drunken Hearted Man” is the first “ruin” debut and a new spin on the original by blues ghost Robert Johnson.

The band selected songs written by their heroes: TDM3 wanted to give fans and new friends a look at their inspiration when creating original material. These are covers, with the full TDM3 treatment, but the writers of each of the covers were selected with purpose.