The Devil Makes Three plays pretty some pretty fast tunes on its records, but its live shows are even more action-packed.
The band — whose music falls somewhere between bluegrass, gospel, ragtime and old-time — will make its first appearance in central Pennsylvania April 22 at the State Theatre.
“We try to play a little faster than our records and put on the highest-energy show we possibly can,” lead vocalist Pete Bernhard said.
The band is from Brattleboro, Vt., and formed in 2001, when Bernhard, bassist Lucia Turino and guitarist Cooper McBean began playing house concerts. Since then, they have released six albums, played at Bonnaroo and opened for Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss.
This summer, the three will headline the Red Wing Roots festival in Harrisonburg, Va., and perform at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, R.I. But Bernhard said the band typically treats every show the same, whether it’s in a small theater or at a large festival.
“Sometimes we’ll sort of change things up depending when we’re playing in the day, like an evening show or an afternoon set at a music festival or sometimes we’ll have guest musicians playing with us,” Bernhard said. “But that’s really about it ... otherwise we try to approach every show with the same level of enthusiasm.”
Several of the band’s songs center on religion — or perhaps a lack thereof. Bernhard cites the Bible as one of his influences.
“I’m always on the lookout for a good story, and the Bible has a lot of great stories,” Bernhard said. “I’m inspired by people and listening to things that have happened to people, or things that have happened to me.”
Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons, who The Devil Makes Three met at the 2011 Newport Folk Festival, will open the show. Fletcher’s musical style is more country than the Devil Makes Three’s foot-stomping bluegrass, but Bernhard said the two should pair well.
“We were introduced to a bunch of really great bands down there (Newport), and Joe was one of them,” Bernhard said. “His sound is hard to describe, fairly lyrical, but it will be a really nice contrast to what we do.”