Before the revivals and the festival movement of the 60s and 70s and even before 78 RPM records and live rural radio, American folk music just was – unnamed, unstudied and unaware of itself except as it was happening in shacks, houses, tents and churches. It wasn’t a genre but an organic human response to work and worship in the American South before electrification, when the air was stifling and the living was borderline feudal. But only in such a fiery furnace could something as immutable, hard and heavy as American blues and gospel be forged in the first place.
Not many bands in the current Americana landscape continue to work this hand-hammered source material and channel the primeval, cathartic origins of roots music with as much pride and power as The Devil Makes Three. This shared ideal brought Pete Bernhard, Cooper McBean and Lucia Turino together almost 15 years ago, and they’ve remained steadfastly together and true to their vision over a staggering number of miles and gigs. They’ve been simplistically tagged as everything from punk to bluegrass to rockabilly, but one sweaty show will dispel and clarify;They know their tradition, but really what they do is throw down.
All that said, The Devil Makes Three has never relied on old material as its muse. They’re a fine songwriting band, led by Pete Bernhard, whose rough and real tunes feels old and new at the same time. Now, however, after four studio albums and a couple of energetic live recordings, a long simmering idea has come to pass. Redemption & Ruin is a concept project of 12 hand-picked songs that bring fans in on the repertoire and legacy that have inspired The Devil Makes Three since before they even founded the band.
“We’ve been kicking this idea around for a long time,” says guitarist and banjo player Cooper. Bassist Lucia adds: “I see it as introducing our fans to the music that influences us. I’m hoping that by listening to this record, people will go back and dig and find the originals.”