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Lover! on 11/18 at Three Kings

Believe it or not, but being involved with the seedy Memphis punk underground in the mid 1990s can have its advantages. For Rich Crook, falling in with teenage terrors, The Reatards came right at the perfect time in his budding musical life. Stepping into a band with a very much still-teenage Jay Reatard between the release of their debut LP and their shambolic first European tour at the end of 1998 (??), Crook was always the steady force of somewhat actual consciousness that kept everything in balance. His appearance on the 'Grown Up Fucked Up' LP solidified his spot in The Reatards officially, and upon the band's implosion in early 1999, he joined Jay and Alicja Trout of The Clears in the next phase of their sonic obliteration, the notorious Lost Sounds. As this tightly-wound synth-punk unit quickly snapped into their place in the universe, endless touring ensued, and as most of the US never really got a good look at the Reatards live, people flocked out en masse for any and every Lost Sounds show that criss-crossed across the country over the next three years.

After armloads of LPs and endless 7" singles and a reputation for one of the most intense live performances of the early part of the new century, Lost Sounds wound down as most of the better bands tend to do. Each of the three core members decided it was best to try music on their own terms, resulting in some of the most interesting output of all as Alicja Trout formed Mouserocket, The Fitts, and still keeps it up with River City Tanlines on a regular basis. Of course, Jay Reatard started and killed the short-lived Angry Angles, but then delivered incredible solo material that transcended more "industry" barriers than any of us around in the the beginning would have ever imagined. Rich Crook made a few drumming appearances on Viva L'American Death Ray records with Nick Diablo, which were excellent VU-strung, grimy pop compositions, that should definitely be checked out.  But Crook really surprised us all with his eye-opening contributions to The Knaughty Knights, which he formed as a one-off side project with original ex-Oblivian Jack Yarber, while still drumming in the Lost Sounds. Crook's songs were shockingly great, high-energy minimalist pop from the get go, and even before the short-lived band had released a total of four 7" singles, it was obvious that he had a sorely unheralded songwriting skill that really needed to breathe on its own, in a major way.

Although production on the first two Knaughty Knights releases were insanely lo-fi compared to the later two, it was the third 7" EP on Goner released in late 2005 with Crook's epic "Death Has Come Over Me" and "Wenches of Turpentine St." that were the shining examples of the second coming of Rich Crook, the singer, guitarist and songwriter extraordinaire. These songs possessed the stark simplicity that so many great pop songwriters strive for, yet sound as casually executed as a weathered soul who just channels the music swimming around inside him. The last Knaughty Knights 7" was released on Jay Reatard's Shattered Records in the Summer of 2006 and alongside Jack Oblivian's "Boogie Disease" track, featured two more Crook-fronted smash hits, "Tommy of The River" and his version of The Outsiders' "I'm Not Trying To Hurt You," which once again sizzled with a zealous pop fierceness not many people were expecting. Touring Europe seemed like the best idea, and with Crook and Yarber's credentials it wasn't difficult to make it happen. (??)

The rest of the next year saw Crook taking a break from his active bands and working on an oil rig in southern Mississippi, near the Gulf of Mexico, where his reflections of that experience that make up the earliest Lover! songs happened to materialize. Finally Crook had his own musical vehicle all to himself, and with help from the Reigning Sound's Greg Roberson (filling in ironically on drums), he put together and recorded the first Lover! full-length album, producing, songwriting and playing an incredible string of powerpop hits that won't soon be forgotten. Co-released on Empty and PTrash Records in Spring of 2007, the Lover! debut LP still stands as one of the decade's finest pop albums, and by far that year's best.

But the frequency between releases was about to get hectic, as a second LP was already being quickly recorded in Memphis, this time with Jay Reatard behind the recording board. Aside from Billy Childish or Mr. Dan Melchior, releasing more than one full-length LP in the same six-month period was quite unheard of in these circles, so it really stuck out as an impressive feat. Never to disappoint, the 'Gathered In The Graveyard' follow-up LP further bolstered the Lover! sound and showed a stylish, yet sometimes risky mastery of the longer song format, foreshadowing the exquisite pop articulation Lover! would boldly display on the upcoming onslaught of domestic singles already in the works.

As 2008 came around, Lover! channelled their power and emitted a powerful stream of unique 7" singles, with each emerging one taking new stabs at different pop textures and all executed incredibly well and without any sign of a creative rut anytime soon. Labels such as HoZac, Iekk! Sounds, Douchemaster, Tic Tac Totally and Rob's House all released one-of-a-kind pop explosions from the Lover! soundscape, each adding to the rich tapestry of the band that Rich Crook has so carefully built from scratch. An extensive European tour and several festival appearances later, it's all definitely falling into place for Lover!

Here we are in 2009, and Crook has uprooted himself from his Memphis orbit, relocating to Chicago, and finally nailing down a solidified lineup, offering a foundation that wasn't as evident with a rotating cast of backing members in previous incarnations of the band. With lots of new releases on the horizon and a fresh start in a new setting, look out for Lover! to continue to be chiseled into a venerable force in the modern scope of American pop music, and one not soon forgotten.

The Devil Makes Three Upcoming Dates

bernhardThe Devil Makes Three live @ KEXP was released digitally on 8.11,  including four tracks played live in the studio of the famous Seattle based radio station and an interview.

 

And all the while, Devil Makes Three frontman Pete Bernhard launches his solo album Straight Line on Milan Records on September 15th.  Stepping out with a collage of musical influences, Straight Line is a fair bit different from his primary band but one key element remains the same - Pete Bernhard's defining vocal style, unique phrasing and his distinctive point of view.

 

TOUR DATES!
September 5 - Truckee River Park Amphitheater - Truckee, CA
Sept 7th - Bumbershoot Festival - Seattle, WA
Sept 15 - Blue Lamp - Sacramento, CA**
Sept 16 - Rickshaw Stop - San Francisco, CA**
Sept 17 - The Crepe Place - Santa Cruz, CA**
Sept 18 - Cafe Coda - Chico, CA**
Sept 19 - Stillwater - Ashland, OR**
Sept 27 - Earthdance Peace Festival - Black Oak Ranch - Laytonville, CA
Oct 14 - Brick By Brick - San Diego, CA
Oct 15 - Echoplex - Los Angeles, CA
Oct 16 - Downtown Brewing Company - San Luis Opisbo, CA
Oct 17 - The Catalyst - Santa Cruz, CA
Oct 18 - The Phoenix Theater - Petaluma, CA
Oct 21 - The Historic Ashland Armory - Ashland, OR
Oct 22 - WOW Hall - Eugene, OR
Oct 23 - Wonder Ballroom - Portland, OR
Oct 30 - 7th St. Entry - Minneapolis, MN
Nov 1 - The Beat Kitchen - Chicago, IL
Nov 7 - Middle East Upstairs - Cambridge, MA
Nov 8 - Southpaw - Brooklyn, NY
Nov 9 - Talking Head Club - Baltimore, MD
Nov 11 - The Grey Eagle - Asheville, NC
Nov 13 - One Eyed Jack's - New Orleans, LA
Nov 20 - Walnut Room - Denver, CO

Devil Makes Three front man Pete Bernhard books solo gigs

After opening for Sea Sick Steve in NYC last week, Pete’s solo performances are a far bit different from his primary band but one key element remains the same - his defining vocal style, unique phrasing and his distinctive point of view.
 


devil-makes-threeAll the while, The Devil Makes Three "Do Wrong Right" continues to gain momentum.   After selling out shows all across the country via word of mouth from fans and friends, Do Wrong Right garners its 16th straight week on in the Top 10 of the Billboard Bluegrass Charts and the album continues to sell strongly each week.  The album holds steadily in heavy rotation on the college charts along with charting on the Americana/Jamband Chart.

Check out The Devil Makes Three LIVE on KEXP Performing "Do Wrong Right."  The Devil Makes Three Live @ KEXP was released digitally on 8.11. The EP includes four tracks played live in the studio of the famous Seattle based radio station and an interview.

The Devil Makes Three kicks off their Fall tour with gigs at Bumbershoot and Earthdance Peace Festival.

The Devil Makes Three quite possibly are the best band that you have never heard of. Constantly on tour, selling out dates across the country and in their neck of the woods on the West Coast, this band is busy packing their shows night after night, largely thanks to word of mouth.

Over the past 7 years, The Devil Makes Three have garnered fans the old school way - playing a city, making friends, conquering fans and moving on. When they hit the next town, venues are packed with folks that heard from a friend in a city that the band had played before.

Because of this, The Devil Makes Three have established thousands of die-hard and devout fans.

 


 
PETE BERNHARD SOLO DATES
September 15- Blue Lamp- Sacramento, CA
September 16- Rickshaw Shop, San Francisco, CA
September 17- The Crepe Place- Santa Cruz, CA
September 18- Café Coda, Chico, CA
September 19th- Stillwater, Ashland, OR


 
DEVIL MAKES THREE TOUR DATES!
September 5 - Truckee River Park Amphitheater - Truckee, CA
Sept 7th - Bumbershoot Festival - Seattle, WA
Sept 27 - Earthdance Peace Festival - Black Oak Ranch - Laytonville, CA
Oct 14 - Brick By Brick - San Diego, CA
Oct 15 - Echoplex - Los Angeles, CA
Oct 16 - Downtown Brewing Company - San Luis Opisbo, CA
Oct 17 - The Catalyst - Santa Cruz, CA
Oct 18 - The Phoenix Theater - Petaluma, CA
Oct 21 - The Historic Ashland Armory - Ashland, OR
Oct 22 - WOW Hall - Eugene, OR
Oct 23 - Wonder Ballroom - Portland, OR
Oct 24 - El Corazon - Seattle, WA
Nov 7 - Middle East Upstairs - Cambridge, MA

Devil Makes Three leader Pete Bernhard steps out solo

Pete will be playing solo dates this summer and will be doing substantial touring around the release of the record. Pete will also be touting with The Devil Makes Three on their dates in October and November.

pete-bernhardMore about Pete Bernhard:
On his second solo album, Straight Line (his first solo commercial release),  Pete lays down a set of his more driving numbers.  He focuses on songs that he felt needed drums and weren’t suited for the all-acoustic old-country/blues/punk outfit The Devil Makes Three. His solo set has a  no-holds-barred feel about it and lyrical fearlessness that one only finds in the truly liberated – feeling no pressure of fitting into a mold. There’s folk, funky New Orleans soul, blues, rock and other genres craft fully melded into a seamless and natural combination that is, like The Devil Makes Three, extremely difficult to place into a single genre.  This may be the biggest similarity to Pete’s primary band – the music crosses many boundaries.  You feel it, you relate to it, it’s like an old friend you’ve never met before.  You have no idea what it is or what to call it.

Pete’s lyrics are thoughtful and inquisitive, often with painted with his well-known sarcasm and irony. He questions the status quo frequently, most notably on his song “Orphan”.  Would you rather be an orphan or a slave? Some might go through their entire lives obliviously, never asking or answering a question like this but Pete has no interest in shirking life’s tougher dilemmas.  “I got to thinking how everyone has some idea about how you should be and what you should and shouldn’t say.  Trying to pay attention to all that can be demanding.  It’s about how people are never satisfied,” he explained. “Pray For Rain” shines a spotlight on the mindless, sheep-like mentality of those who worship at the altar of consumerism.  Straight Line is almost exclusively original compositions, with one cover, “Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold” from the great Townes Van Zandt. He reinvents the folk classic with wailing B3 organ and arrangements that bring to mind the best of The Band.

Pete hails from a small, liberal community in Vermont with a family rife with musicians. His father played guitar and wrote songs, his brother attended Berklee School of Music and plays guitar and an aunt who was a folk musician. Immersed in music, he was drawn to older, traditional  blues from a young age, and also studied the style and aesthetics of music traditions like New Orleans R&B and country while simultaneously getting caught up in punk rock. He headed west as a young man, first to Nashville, then on to Washington State, where he formed a band with a childhood friend and hit the road. When they broke down one day in Santa Cruz, California, they stayed with a fellow Vermonter who was in school – The Devil Makes Three was born.

pete-bernhardThe Devil Makes Three has developed an audience that encompasses just about every kind of music fan from punk rockers to Deadheads, bluegrass barflies and rockabilly fanatics to indie rock kids. “We’re not really a genre-specified band,” he concludes, “I’ve  actually had people come up to me and say, ‘I don’t listen to anything but  hip-hop, but I love The Devil Makes Three. I think we’ve always tried to  keep our songwriting honest and natural, I guess that ends up making it difficult to really define our band. That always keeps things really exciting.”

With a successful band and limited free time, one  might wonder when Pete Bernhard has time to work on his solo music, but that question is easily answered, he told Santa Cruz’s Good Times. “Before, we  were all working jobs and playing in the band and that took all my time. Now we don’t work, so going solo keeps me busy. When The Devil Makes Three goes off the road for a month or two, it gives me time to try something new with my solo songs. I have no interest in stopping.” He will continue to  both question and reveal the truth through his songwriting, on his record and on the road.

Del-Lords' first three albums reissued on American Beat/Collectors' Choice

In New York in the mid-‘80s, four veteran New York musicians united to form the Del-Lords: Scott Kempner from the Dictators, Eric Ambel from Joan Jett’s Blackhearts, future Cracker drummer Frank Funaro and thundering bassist Manny Caiati. Key songwriter Kempner said his vision “was to create a band that would feature four singers performing my songs — an East Coast Beach Boys if you will.” But rather than singing about girls and cars, the Del-Lords sang about things that mattered to them: the everyday grind of life and how it affected the band and those around them.

The Del-Lords recorded three albums that broke no sales records but helped start an American rock ’n’ roll rebirth — and helped sire the Americana movement as well. And now, after a long absence from the marketplace, the first three long-players — Frontier Days, Johnny Comes Marching Home and Based on a True Story — will be reissued on CD by American Beat Records through Collectors’ Choice Music, on May 26, 2009. Their last two albums, Lovers Who Wander and Howlin’ at the Halloween Moon, will come out later this year.

• Frontier Days: The band’s 1984 debut album showed the Del-Lords could rock as hard as the meanest punk bands of the day but also kept an ear toward the melody of the songs. Rolling Stone awarded the album four stars and Robert Christgau in the Village Voice graded it A–, his only complaint that production by Lou Whitney (Skeletons, Morells) wasn’t commercial enough to get radio airplay. And Trouser Press exclaimed, “The Del-Lords embrace rock’s basic components with such skill and verve that they outshine everyone else on the scene.” A promising start. Songs include “Burning in the Flame of Love,” ”Get Tough” and six others from the original LP, plus five never-before-heard bonus tracks and new liner notes from Kempner. First time on CD!

• Johnny Comes Marching Home: For their second album, the band switched to an unlikely producer with a proven track record for rock radio hits, Neil Geraldo (Pat Benatar’s guitarist/producer/husband.) The gamble paid off. Johnny retains the drive and grit of the first album yet the sound is brighter and more engaging. Also aiding the cause was two years of road miles under their belts when they went into the studio. The signature Link Wray echo and rockabilly swagger is still there, kicked into a new gear. Included are the songs “Heaven,” “Love Lies Dying,” “Saint Jake.” “No Waitress No More” and six others. In addition, five previously unreleased tracks are included. Another CD debut!

• Based on a True Story: This 1988 album marked the first time in the band’s career that they went into the studio with a full team in place, Geraldo returning to the producer’s chair, in a pedal-to-the-metal, show-me-what-you-got affair. This time the band had help from a few guest vocalists — Syd Straw, Mojo Nixon, Kim Shattuck (The Pandoras) and, yes, Pat Benatar. True to their guns, the band turned down a lucrative beer company sponsorship, preferring to remain a no-nonsense working man’s rock ’n’ roll band at its peak. This album was released on CD, but due to a label shakeup not many copies found their way into stores. The album contains their biggest hit, “Judas Kiss,” as well as “The Cool and the Crazy,” “Crawl in Bed,” “Cheyenne” and six others, plus, you guessed it, five previously unreleased bonus tracks. Kempner again wrote liner notes for the reissue.

Looking back a quarter of a century to the band formation, Kempner explains: “The Del-Lords were conceived as Holy Sacrament: two guitars, bass & drums, four lead singers, just the way we figured El Hombre Grande wanted it. F--- not with what is essentially perfect! However, the reverence ended there and we were more in tune with John Lennon's assessment: ‘the blues ain't a painting to look at and admire, it's a chair to sit in and use.’ They called it ‘roots-rock’ or ‘cowpunk,’ we called it rock 'n' roll. The good kind. It was firmly rooted in the great artists who came before but, we were burdened in soul and of mind with a very bad attitude. We stomped all over the blues, country, rock 'n' roll, of all kinds and twisted it into something uniquely of us. I mean, I'm a Jew from the South F---n' Bronx! Who am I kidding?

“Now, 25 years after the fact the landscape is grim once again,” he adds. “Just like 1984. Rock 'n' roll where art thou? It seems to me it's the same folks playin’ it now that was playin’ it then. Blessed are the faithful. These records we made back then sound awful good to me right now. A mighty noise. They sound necessary again. Rock'n'roll gives what it gets. Remember that! It's not a painting, it's a f---in' chair!”

Rex Foundation's Three Ways To Boost Philanthropy & Have Fun!

Stanley Mouse Rex Foundation 25th Anniversary Poster- for the Grateful Web

Saturday, November 29th
Black Tie-Dye Ball featuring Dark Star Orchestra 
Nokia Theatre, New York, NY

Have some fun, good food and drinks, enjoy great seating, and mingle with the band members at our pre-concert reception - all to help Rex raise funds for grassroots giving. We're just about sold out of $200 tickets, and still have the $125 tickets and $75 student (ages 16-25) tickets. For anyone who wants to join us, yet feels the economic pinch, just ask for the $75 ticket. Your generosity makes a big difference to Rex and the greater community, as all above $60 is a charitable contribution. Check out the ticket details and help us celebrate what we can do together.

Click here for ticket information

Saturday, December 13th
Rex Foundation 25th Anniversary Celebration!
"Sweet Music Everywhere"
Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, CA

Let's once again fill the Warfield to enjoy our kindred connections and music you won't hear anywhere else. Peter Rowan is bringing along friends and family, including Ramblin' Jack Elliot, the Rowan Brothers and Crucial Reggae legendary musicians Fully Fullwood and Tony Chin, plus Michael Kang (of String Cheese Incident) with Panjea, and Jackie Greene, rising star of Phil & Friends.

Click here for ticket information

Stanley Mouse Rex Foundation 25th Anniversary Poster

Just in time for holiday gift giving to yourself and others, check out and order the great poster Stanley Mouse has created for the Rex Foundation's 25th Anniversary. Click here for poster information

This is the best of times and craziest of times.  How fortunate we are, as Thanksgiving approaches, to be a community connected by our love of music and concern for the greater good.  Come to our events, buy that beautiful Stanley Mouse poster, or just get on board the Rex Community Caravan with a contribution of $5 or more.  Let's demonstrate what we can do together to further a great tradition of grassroots giving.

Sound Tribe Sector 9 Three Night Electro Extravaganza

September 4th, 2008, Boulder Theater

Family. Joyfulness. Community. Gettin' Down! These five words completely detail, although briefly, the majority of my experiences from the past Sound Tribe Sector 9 weekend.