The Devil Makes Three — the trio of Pete Bernhard (acoustic guitar and vocals), Cooper McBean (guitar, tenor banjo and harmony vocals) and Lucia Turino (upright bass and harmony vocals) — often feels like a refugee from another time.
Their raucous combination of bluegrass, punk and old-time music has a timeless feel, and their wardrobe makes them look like they just stepped out of the Oklahoma dust bowl of the ’30s. They also love LPs.
“Cooper and I both have huge record collections,” group spokesman Bernhard says. “We’re more comfortable with vinyl than CDs.
“All the music we love — blues, folk, swing, old country — we heard on vinyl, which is why we’re excited about signing with Milan Records,” he says. “They’re going to put out our music on record as well as CD.”
Their contract with Milan is another step in the long journey of a band that loves to play live. Although they’re an acoustic outfit, their
adrenaline-fueled mélange of ragtime, folk, blues and primitive country has won them fans of all ages from grandparents to grandkids.
The band’s audience includes rockers, punks, country-music lovers and freak-folk fans. They’ve been approached by labels before, but never signed until Milan offered them everything they’d dreamed of.
Milan will nationally release “Devil Makes Three,” the band’s debut, a rough and rowdy collection that sounds like Cab Calloway fronting the Stanley Brothers with the Reverend Gary Davis sitting in on lead guitar.
The new disc will include four bonus tracks, tunes cut around the same time as the original album: “Nobody’s Dirty Business,” a Mississippi John Hurt tune featuring Turino’s bouncy bass, cut directly to analogue in a friend’s home studio, “Dynamite,” one of the few tunes the band recorded with a drummer, a swinging song of death and destruction delivered with the band’s usual jaunty humor; “Fun Has Just Begun,” a jittery ragtime celebration of hard times and hard luck; and “Ocean’s Cold,” a ghostly sea chanty.
Milan took the band’s first album because the label liked its rustic, rootsy homemade sound. The recording captures their infectious live vibe, something that’s often hard to do in the studio.
“It was nice to sign with a company that had no interest in changing us,” Bernhard says.
“Most labels own your music after you sign with them. Milan’s a small label that specializes in putting music in films and on TV. They’re licensing the music for a few years, and will make CDs [and] actual vinyl LPs while we retain all rights to the music, so it’s the best of both worlds.”
IF YOU GO
The Devil Makes Three
Where: The Independent, 628 Divisadero St., San Francisco
When: 9 p.m. today and Saturday
Contact: (415) 771-1422; www.ticketweb.com