THREE TIMES BAD is a contemporary “bluevelvetgrass” combo that plays a high-energy, genre-bending form of “dirty American roots music” (the Register-Guard).
The Bay Area group’s debut studio recording, American Sojourn, was named “ALBUM OF THE WEEK” on Mike Morrison’s American Roots radio program. “American Sojourn is raw, atmospheric, and superbly arranged and played, and thanks to its huge originality will almost certainly be in many best-of-the-year lists!” said Morrison. “There is a mastery of their instruments and arrangements that enables them to roam at will through various old-time genres that contain not only a large slice of ‘hillbilly,’ but also folk, a little western swing, blues, jazz, all played in their own inimitably unique style.”
THREE TIMES BAD is nothing if not hard to pin down. Recognizing “a hint of ‘vaudeville’” in the group’s sound, Morrison said, “They are certainly not a bluegrass band,” while Music Junkie Press believes the combo is “breathing fresh new life into American bluegrass… with a variety of musical influences such as hillbilly swing, outlaw country, Gypsy jazz, honkytonk, folk songs, and much more… bring[ing] back that nostalgic feel for a time where music held a common thread that cemented friendships and bonds were forged.”
The Good Men Project simply states: “This is Americana music, the kind borne of community. It’s real…. Their lyrics also carry the kind of weight you’d expect of reflective singer/songwriter music, and while they’ve got sit-by-the-fire humor, songs like ‘No More, No Less’ come out, and the words make you realize that you need to go back and listen to everything a little more carefully.”
Many of the lyrics on AMERICAN SOJOURN come directly from band leader Reverend Sam Caine’s fiction, which trains its high beams on 21st century Americana, where sex, God and rock ‘n’ roll meet the social web. As James Greer (Guided by Voices) has said about the stories that spawned the band: “The aim is to unsettle your assumptions about class, about gender, about sex, about religion, about identity: in short, about yourself, and what it means to be human in an inhuman world.” THREE TIMES BAD carries on this artistic exploration with a Southern Gothic approach to songwriting and dynamic live performances in the family of the Devil Makes Three and early Old Crow Medicine Show — with a nod to Americana forefathers Uncle Dave Macon, Jimmie Rodgers, and Bill Monroe.
Led by unrepentant freak preacher Caine (on acoustic guitar, banjo, and lead vocals), the THREE TIMES BAD collective currently performs as a power trio and often welcomes guest players on the stage. The other core band members include virtuosic mandolinist (and guitarist) Doubting Thomas Romero and singer/dancer/washboard/bass drum and uke player Empress Raheemah Nitoto (plus French Gypsy fiddler St. Jean-Pierre Duboucheron for SoCal shows). In the great backcountry gospel tradition, everyone in the group stomps and shouts.
Performing throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and up and down the Pacific Coast, THREE TIMES BAD has appeared at a number of festivals, including multiple runs at Ink n Iron (with headliners Iggy Pop, Merle Haggard, the Offspring, and Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings), the Humboldt Hills Hoedown (with the Brothers Comatose, Hillstomp, Dead Winter Carpenters, and Hot Buttered Rum), Creating Commons Festival Hootenanny (at Oakland’s storied PLACE for Sustainable Living), and Hillbilly Robot (SF promoter Shelby Ash’s infamous annual “Urban Americana Music Event”). Other festival highlights include Bend Summer Fest, San Francisco Free Folk Fest, Mission Creek Oakland Music & Arts Fest, Brews on the Bay, Beast Crawl, and FIGMENT Oakland. The band has played some of the region’s top venues (Great American Music Hall, Slim’s, Bottom of the Hill, Brick & Mortar, Dante’s Inferno), provided direct support for leading indie touring acts (CW Stoneking, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Lydia Loveless, Old Man Markley, Cutthroat Shamrock, Larry & His Flask, Steve ‘n’ Seagulls), and partnered with world-class local groups (Pine Box Boys, The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit, Mission Delirium, Dirty Cello, Junk Parlor, One Grass Two Grass, Before the Brave, Laura Benitez & the Heartache, Hernandez Hideaway, the Human Condition, and many more).