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The Devil Makes Four?

The DEVIL MAKES THREE are, as indicated by the catchy name, a trio, but their show on St. Patrick's Day at the Catalyst began as a solo guitar recital.

"I had a dream that we were opening up for WILLIE NELSON in this huge stadium," said guitarist COOPER McBEAN, "and I got up there and was playing, but my band didn't show up. I figured to get over that fear I would come out here alone tonight."

McBean's brief showing as a solo artist proved one thing: Since his participation in the FREAK RADIO BENEFIT, he's been practicing. Though his picking remains firmly based in American roots, he threw out some chords that would make DJANGO proud. Maybe it was the visit to France last year, but more likely it was the result of some really hard work.

In fact, the whole band sounded better. PETE BERNHARD's tenor banjo work was tasty, as were his vocals. LUCIA TURINO has got the double-slap sound down and all three have coalesced into a truly impressive ensemble. I am so damn happy that this band plays around here. They're fun, they're unique and they are getting really tight. Even their setlists are well written, throwing in BILL MONROE and STEVE EARLE covers to round out the originals.

Though they were dissatisfied with the monitor mix, the house sound was fine to my ears. But don't take my word for it, as I had consumed enough corned beef and Guinness to choke a horse. As a public service announcement, I would like to relay the band's open audition call for a "fiddle and accordion player who doesn't mind driving, doesn't do drugs and is willing to play for free."

Will Play Bansuri for Gas, Etc.

The traditions that make up NORTH INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC have many merits, but after last Sunday's DEEPAK RAM show, I have a new appreciation for the ALAP. This unmeasured solo that leads into the raga gives the performer, and the audience, a chance to tune themselves into the scale and to generally get comfortable before the pyrotechnics begin. A good alap basically assures that when ABHIMAN KAUSHAL drops in with the seven-beat cycle on SUM, your ears are ready for it.

This performance of bansuri (the Indian bamboo flute) and tabla was one of those shows whose quality only increased as the night wore on. Each of the four ragas presented built upon the last, and these two masters even made JHAPTAL, a 14-beat cycle that's really hard to count as enjoyable, sound easy.

In addition to being a master of the bansuri, Deepak uttered the best sales pitch ever before a set break: "If you would like to purchase a CD, they are available in the back. Don't worry, the money goes to good cause, like gas for my car and other things that musicians consume."

Nobody Pimped My Ride

It is so damn strange to see someone on MTV and then show up to a show where they are actually performing. Unlike cable, with real life the lighting is terrible, the sound is muffled and you can't make out many of the words. Besides, there are no sweet rides or shaking booties to be seen. At least the entourage remains in full effect. Sometimes suspension of disbelief can be a real pain in the ass.

Seemingly unfazed by his recent possession bust in Guam last week, XZIBIT made his love of the sweet leaf known throughout the evening. One point in the set featured a chant that consisted of "When I say 'Let's get' you say 'fucked up.'"

While none of the seven MCs who took the stage with Xzibit were anywhere close to taking CHUCK D's title as most eloquent man in hip-hop, they did manage to keep the intensity level high and supported each other's rhymes with pinpoint precision. They also made sure that their band mates always had fresh towels to swing around.

Production was sweet throughout the show and so was the sound. Whatever you might feel about the content of these tunes, it was an undeniably fun show to go to. Unfortunately when I returned to the parking lot, no one had seen to pimping out my ride.

Peter Koht

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From the March 23-30, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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