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Digital Subscriptions > Country Music > Feb/Mar 2019 > THE DEVIL’S WORK


The Devil Makes Three are the bluegrass charttopping band who don’t even sound bluegrass. What gives? Songwriter and frontman Pete Bernhard talks banjo styles, forays into “proper Nashville” and tragic heroes
Glies Clement

Music genres, huh? If you head over to, where their good folks spend a lot of time defining such things, The Devil Makes Three are deemed to be: alt-country, alternative indie-rock, countryfolk and even neo-traditional folk. Putting aside the obvious counter argument to such boxingin of art – that being that there are only two types of music; good and bad – it doesn’t even mention the fact that The Devil Makes Three have scored two No. 1s in the US bluegrass chart. The Devil Makes Three’s avuncular frontman Pete Bernhard finds this all highly amusing.

“I don’t think we’ve ever made a bluegrass record in our lives!” he laughs. “I do find the genre thing in music a bit… strange? Of course, if we get to be No. 1 on the bluegrass chart then we’re not complaining. I’ll take it!

But if anything, we’re trying to defy all genres. A term like country is just so wide, but the bluegrass thing? To me, bluegrass is a specific thing, not a lot of bands fit into it, and certainly not us! Even in terms of our style of banjo, we play more old-style, it’s not even close to bluegrass. And ask any proper session player in Nashville whether we’re a bluegrass band and they’ll laugh at you… of course we’re not!”

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