New gear projects abound in the ThreeShots Family. This most recent update became needed after our last blues challenge with the Mile High Blues Society. I have mentioned in previous posts the hunt for perfect tone is a never ending struggle for guitar players especially blues guys. I can pick out most popular blues guitar players in a few notes off of tone alone, it is like a signature.
Well I found my Mesa Reverb Rocket and considered myself a married man, the search was over. I have been a no FXs sort of player my whole life, just plug in and go… well that requires an amp and guitar to create the right dirty tone, both of which I have.
So you can imagine my shock, frustration and disappointment when we show up for the competition, only to be told I need to bench my star player and wing it with the JV team… *sigh*
So after that joke ran its course I started my hunt for the gear needed to make sure that would never happen again. True to form, I went over kill and the next thing I knew I had a pedal boards worth of outboard gear. This means I needed a pedal board case…
and I found the Gig BOX by Gator case.
I was riding on sleazy street… but I started thinking I could make it better… I had the technology. I settled on an array of pedals and an in ear monitor rig, I mean all the cool kids were doing it.
I just needed to find a way to get all of that gear into the one case or it would defeat the purpose.
So I got some wood and started figuring out how to make a storage compartment, for all of the extras.
Then I kept adding more stuff, the next thing I knew I had a half ass plan to fit 4 wireless packs, two mic cables, an instrument cable, spare batteries, strings, a slide, winder, light, multi tool, 3 power supplies, pick holders, in ear monitor rig, ear buds, cup holder, mic stand, SM57 and my Super 55 all into this case.
Took some work but I figured out how to turn this case into a bag of holding.
I then needed to make it practical to carry, trying to make it a one trip load in for me. So I installed these beastly hooks and a killer strap. Now I can shoulder this, put an amp in one hand and a guitar in the other.
Chillers has been our home for years, the back to back gigs take their toll but the locals and the staff make it worth it! After years of playing here we wanted to leave our mark and gave Tommy a memento.
Bands anymore are great about releasing one or two great songs but great albums seem to be rare. It’s pretty common for people to ask about my favorite albums or albums that have influenced me. So here it is, I was shooting for Ten but fell short, enjoy.
Texas Flood 1983, SRV For some musicians it is hard to nail down their favorite album or the album that influenced them the most. It is easy for me. In 1983 a year before I was born the greatest collection of tunes was complied. This album shaped me as a guitar player. Pride and Joy, was the very first real song I tried to learn, a bit of an undertaking but I figured it out. In hindsight it is interesting to me that a lot of the tracks on this album are instrumentals. The album covers everything from up tempo foot stomppers, chaos, and melodic masterpieces.
We Can Get Together 2008, Sean Costello
So I have been doing this guitar player thing for a long time and as much as the above mentioned album may have been the driving force behind my face first dive into the world of blues, eventually I came up for air after treading water for what seemed like years. It was Sean Costello’s We Can Get Together that would launch me off of my plateau. I had never heard of Sean until Jasco of the Symbols turned me on to him. I couldn’t believe my ears a literal rhythmic and auditory orgasm. His voice and picking style were like nothing I had ever heard. His energy will hit you like a freight train with How in the Devil, We can get Together, and Hard Luck Woman can’t miss out on and the gut wrenching songs too like Told me a lie, and Can’t let go.
From here on out there is no order to the albums as far as importance or influence.
Bad News is Coming 1972, Luther Allison
Luther Allison’s traditional blues is so raw. You really just need to listen to every track on this one.
Jagged Little Pill 1995, Alanis Morissette
Its hard to put a finger on why I am drawn to this album so much. It is just good, all of the songs connect even the radio hits were solid. She was God for crying out loud and this was the first album ever bought for me as a gift. 🙂
One of the band’s most commercial albums, it is filled with clever song writing. Sure the content is crass offensive and lewd but this album came along at a time in my life when it made sense. The craftsmanship behind these songs is undeniable… well you could deny it but you would be wrong.
Love is Dead 1995, The Mr. T Experience
Dr. Frank is a master of word play, pair that with his musical background and you have an amazing recipe for great song writing. The Mr. T Experience has a much more playful candor about their writing.
Nine Tonight 1981, Bob Seger
This is what I always hoped a live show would be like… back when I was too young to go to a show I had this amazing example to tide me over. Still don’t think that any show has ever lived up to the expectations this album created.
A Ass Pocket Full of Whiskey 1996, R L Burnside
This is Juke blues or punk blues I guess at its finest. I may have used the word raw on previous albums but this would be whatever came before that, this is quintessential blues, blues to the core, what it was, what it should be and where it started.
Americana 1998, The Offfspring
Another ground breaking album, the musical genius behind this album is undeniable. Vague right, its good just trust me 😉
Waking up the Neighbors 1991, Bryan Adams
This album is just good old rock and roll through and through, filled with flawless music and song writing to move an one off of their feet or ballads to move you to tears. It is all good!
Load 1996, Metallica
A lot of people claim the Black album was their best but this is it for me, Metallica at their best, tracks 1, 5, and 11… the rest as well but just listen to it and you will understand.
Yup, felt moved to quote Eminem as it would seem that another blues challenge prelim has come and gone and I find I am staring down the same barrel while singing the same old tune but let me rephrase it a bit because the truth is, “I am whatever I say I am, if I wasn’t then why would I write this.” 😀
So the day of the show I woke up with hope in my heart, a spring in my step and no voice. That is right I lost my voice the day of the show. So I implemented every home remedy I could think of and for the most part I coughed my brains out and kept my mouth shut for the whole day, a huge challenge for me. When it was time to roll out, the ol’ vocal chords were rough, really rough but as ready as they could be.
The other bands and solo acts were amazing, I was able to get a few dances in before we were to go on and go on we did! After an amazingly heart felt and personal introduction from Kyle; we played our hearts out, nailing every note, the audience’s energy was immeasurable. It was great, we brought Emma to the stage to sing, for the first and questionably the only time that night the audience went and stayed silent. When she was done, over half that room was on their feet the room going from silent to a roar. This hadn’t and didn’t happen again during the rest of show.
While the other bands played I drank, danced and conversed with the who’s who of the local blues scene. Some of these people aware of our history in regards to this event went as far to joke about how our luck and the comments we usually receive from the judges would make for a good blues song. I couldn’t help but laugh and point out that I have already written that tune. The song To Whom it may concern, on our first album was written solely as an observation about the Colorado Blues Society’s International Blues Challenge and the short end of the stick we keep getting year to year. True to form the judges came back and (minus one judge who really liked us) told us that ThreeShots was not blues, or more specifically, not blues enough.
Nice tunes (I like them) but not strictly blues.
Very polished and good arrangements. Balanced sound. Good use of varied dynamics. Each instrument – well isolated. Not enough blues.
You sound better every year. Keep up the good work!
Better every year…keep it up! More rock than blues – ok, but not for a blues competition.
So I began to reflect on our song selection follow along…
We started with Sean Costello’s Hard Luck Woman: pretty sure this song doesn’t warrant justification as it was written and performed by Sean freak’in Costello!
We followed that up with our original Ol’ Scratch: This song has two sections. The A section is a I, IV, V7: a 12 bar, straight, undeniable blues progression with a melodic arrangement comparable with Jimi Hendrix’s cover of Killing Floor. Killing Floor is an old school blues standard originally by Howlin’ Wolf. Hendrix’s cover clings unflinchingly to the blues roots from which the song came; he was just faster and more aggressive. The B section is also a I, IV, V7 and a 12 bar, very reminiscent of Crossroads by Cream. A song that they spun on its head by comparison to the original but their version is still touted unquestionably as blues due not only to its oh so very blues chordal arrangement but the rhythm as well. Which brings be to the rhythmic elements of our song. The A section of our song uses a text book Chicago blues shuffle and the B section use a traditional Texas blues shuffle. I won’t go into what the differences are but feel free to look them up. Last element but not least to cover would be the solos. This song has separate guitar, piano and harp solos all using minor pentatonic scales adding a flat 5th, known as the blues scale. Throw in some lyrics about going to the crossroads to make a deal with the Devil on top of the mound of rhythmic, tonal and chordal blues elements and you have blues.
Our next song was Married to the Blues by Shemekia Copeland. This song actually deviates from the traditional blues motif but every aspect of it is without a doubt blues, just listen to it.
We closed out our show with an original tune New Orleans Queen, this song might, and I use that word lightly, might have a hint of rock to it but when it is all boiled down easily falls into the New Orleans/Cajun/Southern Blues. All in all, over all, the fast majority our set was unquestionably blues. I rest my case.
Every year we think we do well and every year we think we have a shot of going to finals then but don’t. A few years back we were slotted in a prelim round with easily one of the area’s biggest baddest players: Bad Brad and the Fat Cats and it was that year that we knew we weren’t going to finals… and that is the only year we did. I am not saying for one second that the bands that progressed this year weren’t great. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t have been down voted for the reasons that the judges gave. Here is the point, the genre that is blues is massive and I get it, not every judge is going to like Jump Blues, Delta Blues, Texas Blues, Piedmont Blues, or Boogie-woogies, ect… but they are still blues none the less. I honestly believe that if some of the most notable names in the genre, that we have come to admire and specifically the ones that lean on the rock vein a little like we do, if they were to take part in this event they would be knocked out in the first round.
Over all thoughts on the IBC: it’s a lot of fun and I love getting to see our brothers and sisters in music do what they do and we will continue to enter but we will also be looking into the other blues societies for a chance at Memphis. Maybe we can find people willing to take a chance on something a little outside the box, cause if not I believe that the genre is destined to never grow and really that leaves us playing the same stuff we have been for the last 60 years.
To start, let me apologize for the lack of posts life has been interesting to say the least. Between; sickness, a computer crash, and every other aspect of life that could go wrong, going wrong, I’ve been a bit preoccupied. We are back though. So lest play catch up…
The new album was put on hold for a bit but the guys are still working on new tracks, so stay tuned for more information in regards to that. We are looking at song selection, plenty of original tracks and deciding between a handful of covers.
ThreeShots has been afforded the privilege of joining the ranks of Fort Collins legends The Symbols and up and coming Free Mason under the wing of SPR Music. We are looking forward to working with these talented musicians and can’t wait to see what comes from our new found friends.
On a personal note, I have started my own youtube channel (Cause I needed another project right?)and will post more info once I get some sizable content up.
We have been playing out here and there and have been having a blast playing at Chillers, in Loveland. Everything about this venue is amazing! Great space for eating, dancing and drinking, the people who show up for the shows, the amazing bartenders, including but not limited to Amy, the food and the drinks are great as well.
We just finished up another back to back night at Chillers. Got to see some people I haven’t seen for years. There were even several birthdays being celebrated that night, crazy dance pits and even a dance off during our cover of ‘give me one reason’ You can’t fabricate that kind of energy it was through the roof, off the chain… I mean words can express. Thanks to all of you who came out and made this such a memorable event. Despite their name, Chillers has become a warm and inviting home for us on so many levels.
So It was our first time at Chillers, a virgin gig and boy oh boy did we nail it! (Yes, I phrased it that way on purpose) It was a great little venue with great people, a bit loud for my taste but the rooms acoustics lent themselves to it. This was a back to back sort of thing, Friday and Saturday. The small room made for a great dance venue and the staff did a great job of keeping the locals happy, present, and drinking. Good booze and great music, makes for a good time. The second night there was some sort of WWII thing or some such shindig going down in old town Loveland. They had tanks and all sorts of cool stuff, a few people dressed up and all popped in to the bar for a bit, pretty cool.
One thing is perfectly clear, Emma is making a solid name for herself within ThreeShots. (I might be out of a band at this rate 🙂 ) We ended up bringing her up over and over again to sing the few songs we had prepared with her because she was like a drug to the audience… they couldn’t get enough. So we will be finding some new songs for her to grace us with, promise.
These back to back gigs made for long weekends but with a warm welcome to a new venue like the one we got, it is worth it. Things seemed to go so well in fact, no sooner were we packing up after the second night did we have 4 more gigs on the books. A venue that knows the value of a good band is hard to find, they pay well and book often, you cant beat that.
The Lagoon is a long standing tradition in Fort Collins and it is in our home town so I can’t express how exciting it was to be apart of it this year. The line up from week to week was amazing. My favorite was easily Mamma Lenny and the Remedy. Seriously, catch them if you can!
The weather looked like it was going to be perfect, no threat of rain and people started showing up with assorted lawn chairs and blankets. This event was very heart warming for me, as someone who grew up with this series and it being my home town it made for a very emotional day to say the least. I got to see old friends and acquaintances from high school and even my high school speech coach made it out. It was my own personal homecoming. As most of you who know me and heard me rant, Fort Collins is a bit of a tight music scene so playing in my home town is hard enough let alone to play a gig like this. It felt really good.
The show started off with the best opener we have ever had… yes we have never had an opener before but these kids were amazing. It was really cool to see kids getting involved in music that young. They played a few songs and got the crowed warmed up for us. So we did our thing and the energy between band and concert goers was through the roof. You couldn’t help but move, even Tom our resident stone wall was bouncing around on stage. Things got even more intense when we brought Emma on stage. She nailed it, taking command of the stage and the audience.
About halfway through the set it came cutting across the silence as clear as day… ’Skinny Women!’ and I paused not only had someone had called out a request, was a request for ‘free bird’ or Jimmy Buffett? No, this was a request for one of our songs. A song we had decided not to play. Now there are only so many minuets in a show and we can’t play all of our material and we had figured that that song may divide an audience so to play is safe we nixed it. It’s one thing to leave and audience wanting more but if they ask for it… you better give it to them, so we did and it was received very well!
The dancers, old and young were dancing, the amazing food from the food trucks was being devoured. I have ran sound for events like this for years, watching my mentors, the best Colorado has to offer like Chris Daniels and Hazel Miller just captivate and audience. It was the most amazing feeling in the world to be on their side of the fence this time.
To the hundreds of people who came out and watched and/or danced, the event staff, sound and camera crews and our amazing opening act I cannot thank you enough. I can’t wait to do it next year.
One more point of interest. So it would seem that despite all the dancers and all the fun we were all having, it is true what they say, it only takes one… There was at least one unsatisfied customer with our show as stated in the Coloradoan’s thumbs up/down column:
CSU Lagoon Series is usually a great family friendly concert and evening out. On July 29, the evening started with very enjoyable kid bands; then Three Shots took the stage. Their selection of songs included lyrics that weren’t appropriate for families there with children; the same goes for their commentaries/jokes.
Now I know you can’t please everyone all the time or even some of the people, some of the time. So to those who found us lacking, I am sorry. We left our songs PG-13 and triple A radio friendly. With any luck we will be back next year with our unique brand of upbeat, heavy blues. Till next time, keep dancing Fort Collins.
So I have gotten a little behind on the blogging, lets begin… The stage was set at the beautiful Dicken’s Opera House; sound check was done (Thanks Wes Everett and Laura Wilder) and the booze were flowing. This gig was a big deal for us, not only were we playing the historic Dicken’s Opera house but we were playing alongside Adrienne O! This is paramount two fold. One, ThreeShots hasn’t co-billed with anyone for over ten years. Second, Back in the day (and still do) I worked as a live sound engineer. One of the bands I used to work with was The Fever, Adrienne was at the forefront of that band so it was humbling to share a stage with someone I looked up to and worked with. When she stepped out to start her own band, we really never crossed paths again. So there was a bit of small world nostalgia and fan boy excitement going on when we booked this gig. Adrienne has done such a great job and appropriately so of building a name for herself and although we have done well in our own right, I felt a bit like a large fish in a larger pond. (About damn time)
The gig also held some internally nostalgic weight as Collin Sitgreaves, one of ThreeShots’ original line up was joining us for the night. Collin has been rocking all over the world and was available to sit in with us. It felt good, real good. The band felt solid, there were a few surprises throughout the night, as is with live performances but Collin (and the rest of the guys) were on top of things, picking up my drops and nailing every note.
This was a great night. For me, I got to play side by side with a top notch act. Sure our genres were different but good music is just that, good. So the differences didn’t matter. It was nice to her Adrienne live and as expected she was great. So if you want something different but amazing head over to Adrienne O! and check her out. I got to reunite with Collin and play a killer show with him before his summer explodes with his other projects and for me that night solidified that with the new album looming around the corner, I would love to bring him back for a few tracks.
The Staff at the Dickens was great and so was the food. Can’t wait to do it again. Maybe we can step up our game and co-bill with the likes of Hazel Miller or Chris Daniels? I can dream.
It was graduation weekend in Fort Collins Colorado and the stage was set for ThreeShots to play the Whiskey in old town. The Whiskey is a narrow bar/restaurant that opens up in the back to a speakeasy feeling room, complete with bar, dance floor and stage. We load in from the back and show up early as we wanted to set up some video equipment and settle in for a long night. The place is packed and the drinks are flowing. We end our first set in a ball of sweat and energy. During the break we decided that we are going to stick in our newest song ‘Little Blonde Bombshell’ and which B.B. King song we wanted to play as a tribute as the legend. Our break came to a close and we started playing. Then something went wrong. All of a sudden I found it hard to breath, it burned. Looking to Tom seeing he was feeling it to, I asked if it were the fog machine, we figured it wasn’t. All of a sudden the fire alarm went off, and people were trying to get out. Management, unaware of what was going on tried to tell people there was no fire, there wasn’t…
It seems that during our introduction for our B.B. King tribute someone in the audience set off their pepper spray. Most debilitating thing I’ve ever experienced. The bar cleared out and we hung out in the alley for what seemed like an hour. They aired out the bar and eventually we went back in, the few and the proud that stuck it out with us got to hear the new song and we even pulled a chunk of people from the front section of the bar. We stuck it out and played till after 1am.
As I told people that night, ‘no one will believe me but you can’t make this stuff up. This is going to have to go in the biography.’
We had a lot of fun and learned that pepper spray really works. I don’t care what you or other people were trying to do,that stuff will end you.
Thanks to all the people who came out, the people who stuck around, the staff for handling it the way you did, and the Whiskey for wanting to get us back on the books in the future. I promise in the invite for the next gig I will mention ‘not acts of domestic terrorism, please.’ Not the most ideal night, the bar was making hand over fist on sales and we were playing great! Still not bad… this is coming from the band who’s rehearsal space caught fire… during practice.
As another Colorado Blues Society’s (CBS) International Blues Challenge (IBC) preliminary round comes and goes leaving us in its wake it’s time to reflect. I want to say congratulations to the bands that made it to the finals. All of the bands that played that day were top notch. As ThreeShots puts another IBC to rest we can’t help but look back at this and previous years with a slightly precarious, frustrating and confusing expression. (I have no idea what that would actually look like)
ThreeShots is a blues band, period.
Do we play the same ol’ canned blues that came about 60 years ago? Nope. That doesn’t mean we are not blues. The genre that is blues is massive, due largely to that fact that blues has influenced so many genres. Just like all forms of music though blues has evolved and grown over the years.
Without getting too technical blues is traditionally made up a 12 bar progression based off of the I, IV, and V chords, utilizing the blue notes (flatted 3rd and 7th notes), paired with a walking bassline and call and response lyrics.
This is where it started; it has evolved into so much more than that. Elvis (rock and roll), Muddy Waters (Chicago blues), Robert Johnson (delta blues), T-Bone Walker (jump blues), John Lee Hooker (boogie-woogie blues), Stevie Ray Vaughan (Texas blues), Cream, Lonnie Mack (Rock-blues) just to name a few, all of these and many more subgenres are notably different but they are all blues.
ThreeShots is no different, we have taken the music beyond where we found it and still hold to the conventions that would, to the discerning ear, still classify us as blues. Our selection of cover songs and originals bounce in and out of several sub genres all of which fall under blues.
Some like Chicago blues, some like Texas blues, Swamp blues, or maybe jump blues. There are so many different subgenres of blues it is hard to count. ThreeShots falls well within the definitions of electric blues, blues-rock, and Roadhouse R&B.
Yet without fail as if looking for a reason to vote us down, we get ‘feed back’ stating that we are not a blues band. So the musician in me can’t help but look to the theory behind what makes blues definitively blues. Traditionally, as I mentioned above most blues consist of a I, IV, V progression, usually in a 12 bar format. Rhythmically blues is clichély a shuffle and lyrically it is standard to have a call and response sort of a thing. I would argue that if you have a song that consists of all of these elements you would be hard pressed not to have a blues song on your hands. With that being said, it only makes sense to expand the genre and not just play the same ol’ things that we have heard for the last 60 years. ThreeShots has done our part to expand the genre. Several other notable bands have done the same. I really do believe that aside from their noted fame that Hamilton Loomis and Samatha Fish would be bitch slapped and told they aren’t blues based off of what I have seen year after year. Yet they are at the forefront of the genre respectively. Yes they both play standard/traditional blues from time to time but for the most part they are by no means conventional blues.
Some like us, love us, and some can’t stand us. That doesn’t change what we are: good. This year we had a ballot of straight 6s. This year was also hands down the tightest performance in all aspects that our show has been. While in the past I remember seeing straight 10’s (Thanks Dan King). Without fail we get judges at this competition who from their position of superior knowledge, or so I am assuming this is why they were made judges. Surely they aren’t just blues enthusiasts, or weekend players but I could be wrong. This judging pool of blues aficionados can’t help but think we are not a blues band and find that it is their duty to inform us that we are actually a rock and roll band. Even if that were the case (which it is not) and we were to lose points in the ‘blues content’ section, surely the instrumental, vocal talent, stage presence, and originality section should grant us enough points to carry us forward.
Also, if I am correct all the judges ballots are used to figure out the winner, which means if one judge doesn’t like your act, you are out of the competition. It would seem to me that the lowest and the highest scores should be tossed out and the remaining scores be averaged. This would remove positive and negative outliers.