Charleston-based blues band fundraising to compete in Memphis
HUNTINGTON — It’s only an eight hour drive to get from Charleston to Memphis.
But Three’s Company Blues has already started that journey.
Back in September the Charleston-based blues rock unit won the band competition of the Huntington Blues Society’s fourth annual Huntington Blues Challenge.
The Blues Society is now raising funds to help send Three’s Company Blues to the 35th International Blues Challenge that takes place Jan. 22-26 on Beale Street in Memphis.
At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, the band plays the Huntington Blues Society’s monthly blues jam and showcase at the V Club, 741 6th Ave. Cover is $1, but donations are being taken up to help pay the band’s travel expenses to Memphis. After Three’s Company Blues plays a set, the Blues Society hosts its monthly jam. Area musicians are invited to bring their instruments (drum set provided) to come up and jam some blues with a rotating stage of musicians.
Around for the past couple of years, Three’s Company Blues got together when the three Charleston friends, who also play in a number of other bands, played an open mic together on a whim and liked the magic that happened.
Shane Durham, drummer, and Ryan Wright, guitars and vocals, are probably best known as members of the well-traveled and festival favorites out of Charleston, Beggars Clan, while Katie Barker, bass guitar and vocals, is in a couple Charleston bands including Gypsy Rhythm, a funky bass heavy band that has been featured at Live on the Levee.
“It was just fun cover project to start out with,” Wright said. “We’re all good friends and hang out a lot and so we’re like, ‘We are all musicians we should do something together.’ We decided why not start a cover band and play songs that everybody loves but not the same ones that you hear all the time in bars. So we started playing some oddball Allman Brothers and Govt Mule and some blues rocky stuff.”
After a while practicing and working up a bunch of rock covers from Jimi Hendrix and The Grateful Dead to The Who, the group began writing together.
“Eventually the creative bug hit,” Wright said. “We were like this is fun and all but let’s write something and take our influences and turn this into something better than we could ever imagine.”
The first song they wrote together was a keeper with Barker’s searing vocals on “Burn Like Whiskey,” which is up on the band’s ReverbNation page.
“From there it has kind of started to grow and songs have gotten a lot easier to write because we are finding our own niche and style,” Durham said. “We are not held back by standard blues, we like to mix it up. We like blues rock, upbeat blues, slow blues, we love it all and all of us listen to everything. People say that all the time but if you go through my playlists it’s everywhere.”
Since winning the September blues contest (which is also sending Jeremy Short to Memphis as a solo artist), Three’s Company Blues has increasingly found interest in their fresh cooked delicious roots rocked blues stew.
The band was just featured Monday on the Diamond Duck Blues Hour on WMUL, Marshall University’s award winning radio station with hosts Mike Lyzenga and Karen Combs of the Huntington Blues Society, and recorded a session with Austin Creel, of WMUL for Marshall’s new Classroom Concerts Series.
Just a couple weeks after a Memphis fundraiser at Charleston’s Empty Glass, Three’s Company Blues will be back at the Glass Saturday night opening for nationally touring blues artist Cedric Burnside.
Durham said that it’s been really cool to have regional audiences embracing their original music and asking to hear more - something that keeps them inspired to keep musically exploring together.
“I was talking to somebody over here and they were asking when we were playing again and I was like we are playing an acoustic show at the Italian Grill and we were going to mix it up with original and covers and he was like I don’t care about the covers, I just want to hear the originals,” Durham said. “That’s so refreshing to hear somebody say that because a lot of times people will be like, ‘Oh they were great but I didn’t know anything they played.’ We’ve played shows where we have finished a song and it will be silence, like we are just background music, but tonight, you see that people really do care, and that people really want to see bands succeed from around here.”
After the Blues Society’s Huntington Blues Challenge, which featured eight bands and artists from around the region, Blues Society board member, Jerry Lee Brooks, said it was incredible to hear all of the fresh takes on blues, the root of so many American roots music forms. And that the Blues Society was proud that such artists as Jeremy Short (who tours regionally with Short and Company) and Three’s Company Blues will be representing Huntington and the Tri-State in Memphis.
“Blues is such an umbrella term a lot of things fit under that and I feel like today we had a really good representation of all the sub-genres of blues - you have everything from what Jeremy Short was going to what Three’s Company was doing. It’s all blues but very different takes on the blues so you can see how blues came and branched out.”
If You Go
WHAT: The Huntington Blues Society’s monthly blues jam and showcase. This month’s featured band is Three’s Company Blues out of Charleston.
WHERE: V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14.
HOW MUCH: $1, but donations are being taken to help Three’s Company Blues compete in the 35th International Blues Challenge that takes place Jan. 22-26 on Beale Street in Memphis.
ON THE WEB: More information can be found at www.huntingtonbluessociety.com or vclublive.com and check out the Three’s Company Blues Facebook page to keep up with the band.
ON THE RADIO: Check out local blues music every third Monday of the month from 3 to 4 p.m. as WMUL-FM, 88.1 presents The Diamond Duck Blues Hour.
MORE THREE’S COMPANY BLUES: Three’s Company Blues will be back at The Empty Glass, 416 Elizabeth St., Charleston, Saturday, Nov. 17 opening for nationally touring blues artist Cedric Burnside.