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For years, the free, unamplified, middle-of-the-room Devil in a Woodpile residency at the Hideout in Chicago was a civic treasure. A coupla sets of rowdy, bawdy, grooving, swinging ROOTS music played the way it was meant to heard—unplugged and part of a neighborhood bar party. It made Tuesdays THE night to look forward to. If you didn’t find yourself whaling out heckles, daring them to play everything from Son House to The Zep and stomping your feet, well, quite frankly, there was probably something wrong with you.
Such is the power and mystery of Devil that during their sold out first album release show at the Hideout, there was a lightning storm that knocked out power to the whole area. The barstaff put the beer on ice, lit some candles and the band rocked it like only they could—it was like hopping into a wormhole to the early 1900’s.
Devil in a Woodpile, they play blues. They also play country. Ragtime. Hot Jazz. Hillbilly. It’s all the same to them. It’s all taken from the same deep, muddy well called American Music that existed long before wise guy marketing goons and interweb algorithms decided to categorize and sub-categorize the whole mess.
Rick “Cookin'” Sherry is the living, breathing, carnival barker fronting the trio. He’s got an uncanny ability to channel the blues roots of a 30’s juke joint wailer through his 21st century foghorn pipes, creating an outright eerie (and slightly unhinged) persona; the ghost of Skip James or Big Bill Broonzy come to life. He scrapes a washboard, pounds a marching drum with a foot pedal, and whoops on his harmonica like only a top-notch bad ass would–punctuating it all with a crash symbol. He’s now splitting his time with the Sanctified Grumblers.
Bassist Tom Ray learned how to play stand up from Willie Dixon. He’s played with the Bottle Rockets, Waco Brothers, the Pine Valley Cosmonauts and currently in Neko Case’s band. His hobbies are fishing (don’t ask him about it, he’ll tell you more than you ever wanted to know), motor sports, and maintaining his legendary utility belt–he’s like some sort of bass-playin’ super hero. Guitarist Joel Paterson is one of the best in Chi-town. He’s played with Kelly Hogan’s jazz posse, The Wooden Leg, released his own pedal steel record (which we highly recommend) and can be found on stages all over town with anyone with the sense to let him play. We don’t think Joel has any hobbies.
Devil was the backing band for ground zero Delta bluesman David “Honeyboy” Edwards. They were also the backing force in the kiddie punk supergroup the Wee Hairy Beasties.
Devil In A Woodpile doesn’t have to turn it up to 11 to get their point across–one listen to their raunchy, acoustic mayhem and you’ll be convinced.