Friday Night at the Webb-Hay House, beginning around six with Luke Nelson and the Somethings, followed by Three Sheets to the Wind, and closing out with the Smokies. If it’s raining or too cold they’ll be upstairs in the loft.
Songs about women. Songs about fish. Songs about fishy women. Tales of life on the high seas. A ten minute mini opera involving a son’s quest for revenge upon the scalawag sea captain who left his mother a consumptive wretch, which culminates in a showdown deep within the belly of a whale. Not your usual Corn Day entertainment, but that’s Three Sheets to the Wind, playing Friday night around 7:30 at the Webb-Hay House.
Consisting of Todd Lane on vocals, guitar and harmonica, Teelin Atteberry on fiddle, mandolin and percussion and Todd Atteberry on guitar, vocals and madness, the Deep Roots Festival sat down with the trio recently to get a feel of what they’re all about.
Deep Roots Festival: How would you describe your music?
Todd L: We’re just your basic folk band, really. It’s just we’re a bit twisted having grown up in Carmi.
Todd A: Mainly we play the hits, albeit some of these songs were more likely to be a hit in 1814 instead of any time recently. But we figure that shouldn’t be a problem in Carmi, where even the younger people tend to be rather old.
Teelin A: It’s something my dad makes me do to pay off my music equipment. I don’t think he’s altogether there, but the law says I have to spend every other weekend with him.
DRF: Okay, so how did the idea for this come about?
Todd L: We get bored real easy. We played at one time or another with most of the musicians in Carmi, who all went on to varying degrees of success in bars, lounges and more recently, Nascar. But the idea of playing the same old hits over and over so people could dance …
Todd A: Badly I might add, Carmi folks just can’t dance.
Todd L: I’d rather be a dog returning to its swill than do that.
Todd A: We played the Deep Roots Festival all summer as the Friday Night Drifters, and we’d do a set of songs which hardly anyone knew, the crowd would stare at us with a sort of vague curiosity and clap politely at the end. But for the last show, we switched to sea shanties and folks songs and afterwards we had a few people come up and say things like “well that didn’t suck as much as you usually do.” So we figured it’s an avenue we should explore a bit more fully.
It’s not like we have a lot of options here … the Smokies who are headlining, have two nice looking ladies with incredible voices, backed by their husbands who are incredibly musicians. Hell, even their husbands are good looking. While we are two tubby guys in our fifties and a thirteen year old. We don’t look the part of rock stars, but we’re not half bad as let’s say, pirates.
Teelin A: Pirates are cool. Plus I’m not old enough to play in bars.
DRF: So you sing songs about pirates?
Todd L: Actually no. We do a lot of songs about life on the ocean. I do a few songs from the Appalachian region of these United States. Todd plays … well I don’t know exactly what some of his songs are about, which is why he does most of the talking on stage. Scott Kittinger recommended he explain what a song is about before he sings it, because well, (whispering), he doesn’t sing very good, although he is quite loud.
Todd A: That’s actually all true. Always before we just kind of put our heads down and plowed through our set. So when Scott mentioned that I thought, well Scott has played music forever, and he’s incredibly handsome, so he might be onto something. Besides, since we’re not actually giving the people what they want, it’s probably a good idea to acknowledge that they’re there. Ooh! Ooh! In order to placate the crowd a bit, we’ve added some Jimmy Buffet to the set. Everyone loves Jimmy Buffet!
Todd L: Plus he has that whole aquatic/drinking thing going, and we’re only playing a block from a body of water. So we hope to capture the whole nautical feel.
Teelin A: I HATE Jimmy Buffet.
Todd A: So back to your question, my mother has lighthouses all over the house. I mean there are thirteen lighthouses in the bathroom for Christ’s sake! So I wake up in the middle of the night, needing a bit of relief and you follow the beam from the lighthouse into home port, and while standing there I got to thinking …. hmmmm, pirate music. By the time I got to the flush, the band was formed.
DRF: So you have songs about the ocean, what about river songs?
Todd L: We’ve got that covered as well. Songs about river life are actually pretty common, and was once a big part of popular life and culture here in the midwest, as well as out east.
Todd A: True. I have a friend out in Sleepy Hollow, New York who plays in the Hudson River Ramblers, and we just stole whole chunks of their concept outright. Without the costumes of course, though I did buy a mermaid necklace from Kirsten Stiles Ross up in Grayville, another town known for river life.
Look, here in the midwest we’re enamored with the ocean. Half of Carmi is in Florida in the summer, the rest either on a cruise or up in South Carolina. I sold my artwork one year at Corn Day and the only two pieces I sold were of the ocean during a storm and lighthouse. And if you’re all not hunkered down with rum drinks under a palm tree, you’re on the sand bar of the river. We even found a folk song about Shawneetown, which from the lyrics, Shawneetown hasn’t changed much over time.
DRF: What about the mini-opera. What’s that all about?
Todd A: It’s by a group called the Decemberists, who are actually quite popular, just not around here. It requires audience participation, or at least an audience, who portray the crew of the ship. But as they get unexpectedly eaten by a whale, if they just sit there mute like they usually do when we play, that works as well. It’s like a school play in a way, I get the lead role because Todd Lane can’t remember that many lyrics. He’s old. He plays my mother, speaking from beyond the grave for most of the piece. Teelin plays the whale, and it all ends with a crazed gypsy dance. You know, typical Corn Day entertainment.
DRF: Any other tricks up your sleeve?
Todd L: Well since it’s gospel night on the main stage, we figured we should toss in one of those.
Todd A: True. We figured a few of those people will sneak down the street for a pint at some point, so we’re doing the Ballad of Onan for them.
DRF: Okay, that’s more than enough for now.