The Noise (Boston) – Review of Chandler Travis Three-O CD Release Party at Club Passim

 

THE CHANDLER TRAVIS THREE-O  CD release party 
Club Passim, Cambridge, MA
10/12/12

Travis is not your typical folkie: in fact, he is one of the most creative songwriters on the scene, and he has been for three decades. Three-O actually has four members—Chandler, John Clark on upright bass (he also uses a bow), Berke McKelvey on keys, sax, and clarinet, and vocalist Fred Boak. The fifth member of the combo, Dinty Child (wearing a Morphine T-shirt), adds his virtuoso on mandicello and accordion to the mix. Before the set, I am told they will perform the whole new CD from beginning to end, but this promise quickly fades.  In the first of their two sets they play the Incredible Casuals’ “Paper Roses” and in the last, they perform “Sweet Haven” from the Popeye movie starring Robin Williams. This ensemble is Chandler’s folk/jazz tribute to the Andrews Sisters and the uniqueness of the sound makes me proud to be part of this great scene. Do you think bands like this gig in Oklahoma, Alabama, or Montana? Ha. Not a chance. New songs like “Little Things,” “Still Drink My Coffee Blue,” and the great “One Step Forward” treat the audience of old friends and typical Cambridge sweater-vesters to a fascinating blend of folk, jazz, and pop with five part harmonies to boot. Amazing. I usually hate solos, but I listen to every note each artist plays. Sometimes it’s just the bass and acoustic guitar softly backing the soloing horn or clarinet or eight-string mandicello, and it’s always mesmerizing. Chandler informs me: “It won’t be visual; it will be all sonic”—and he is wrong again. Various onstage clothing changes add to his brilliant satire. One of the members wears a Christmas Santa hat and another wears pink sunglasses and matching tie.”It’s all about the suits and the songs,” Travis explains as he changes for the third time between songs.  At another point, the band decides to do a different tune than planned and Chandler laments: “I have to change guitars. I have four guitars. What a joke.” The audience laughs along. Great songs. Great harmonies. Clever arrangements, visuals, and just a whole lot of fun.   (A.J. Wachtel)

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