On January 20, folk/bluegrass act The Devil Makes Three made their way to Portland, ME’s venerable State Theatre to put on a show that was one hell of a good time! Along with them were relatively new act The Huntress and the Holder of Hands–the project of MorganEve Swain, one half of the critically acclaimed duo Brown Bird–and folk/swamp blues duo Roebuck.

Despite the frigid temperatures and icy sidewalks, fans were lined up in a queue that wrapped around the venue well before the doors had opened, and were packed-in by the time Roebuck hit the stage to warm them up. The duo, comprised of Phoenix and Phillip Roebuck, was more than up to the task, with Phoenix quickly winning the crowd over with her vocal chops and manhandling of her upright bass.

Up next was the string band The Huntress and the Holder of Hands. The band was started by Swain after the death of her husband and music collaborator Dave Lamb as an outlet for her grief and indeed, that grief was put on display this evening in the form of beautiful swelling, mournful vocal melodies that captivated the audience for their entire performance.

At last, as the clock struck 10:45, it was time for The Devil Makes Three. It was clearly going to be a late but worthwhile night. I’ve always thought that bluegrass was a relatively inaccessible genre from my perspective as an outsider, but The Devil Makes Three challenge that notion with their blunt lyrics and upbeat and fun delivery. Songs like “Gracefully Facedown,” “Do Wrong Right,” and the Hudson Whittaker cover “I’m Gonna Get High” are good examples of how the group avoids many of the genre cliches of bluegrass and country yet still retains the playful and relatable subject matter–drinking too much and having a good time. Their set, clocking in at more than twenty songs, was dynamic, with happy tunes and somber numbers as well that had the entire venue singing and dancing along. While I’m confident that one can gain an appreciation for the band via their recordings, The Devil Makes Three is really an act that needs to be experienced live for the full effect. You can catch them touring on this run in support of their recent release Redemption & Ruin through February 10th, the remaining dates are below!

Remaining Tour Dates:

January 30 – Millvale, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre
January 31 – Charlottesville, VA @ Jefferson Theater
February 1 – Saxapahaw, NC @ Haw River Ballroom
February 2 – Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works
February 3 – Atlanta, GA @ Buckhead Theatre
February 7 – Pensacola, FL @ Vinyl Music Hall
February 8 – New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues
February 9 – Austin, TX @ Emo’s
February 10 – Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater


When he's not out in the woods, clomping around in streams, or looking at shiny rocks, you can find our U.S. Managing Editor and contributing photographer Nathan Katsiaficas in the photo pit, covering everything from heavy metal to punk, alternative, indie, and hip-hop.