There are some questions that are yet to be answered in the world of popular music. For instance, what exactly did Dave Coulier do to Alanis Morissette to provoke the vitriol she exuded in You Oughta Know? But an answer to the question "how does the Louisville band Turn3 make time for its music when its members have familial (all married with12 children between the five members) and career responsibilities" is a bit less elusive.
"Finding time for Turn3 has always been a challenge," says lead singer Chris Donohue. "We all have demanding day jobs, growing families, and very little free time. With that said, Turn3 is something I'll always make time for." The band, indeed, will find some time this Friday August 27th when they play Dutch's Tavern from 9:30 P.M. until 1:30 A.M. The cover charge is $5.
Turn3 was formed by Donohue, who had previously been in the popular local bands What Ever Will and Red Fish Blue Fish, his brother and rhythm guitarist-songwriter Chad, and lead guitarist John Wesselman. Previously, the three were in an acoustic group called Brother John and began writing their own songs. So by 2003, they decided to get serious about their original material, and with the addition of Frank Green on bass, and drummer Trent Fancher, Turn3 was born. The band released a self-titled 5-song EP in 2003.
By the mid 2000s, Fancher, who is also singer-comedian Wayne Brady's drummer, was gone, and Ryan Murphy who had been playing live with the band joined full time. Current lead guitarist Shaun Kennedy signed up in 2009, and Wesselman switched to the bass.
In 2005 the band recorded songs in Memphis with producer Pete Matthews who has produced and engineered notable artists such as Alvin Youngblood Hart and The North Mississippi All Stars. Matthews is also credited with discovering Evanescence.
Since that time, the band has worked with Todd Smith, whose credits include Louisville heavyweights like Days of the New, Digby, The Muckrackers and Peter Searcy. Smith produced three tracks including Live Today, which is arguably the band's signature song. Written by Chad Donohue as a tribute to a college friend who took his own life, Live Today is often hailed as the band's most accomplished song and with good reason. Producer Smith's string arrangement adds to the poignant message and melody.
The band hopes to release the songs they recorded over the last few years along with new compositions on their first full-length CD in 2011. Although the band is focused on their own songwriting, they are an accomplished cover band as well, and that comes in handy when you have to perform for nearly four hours. They play songs from the 90s, rock classics, and some of today's hits. They also are not afraid to embrace the 80s, and that means playing a Greg Kihn song is not out of the question.
The band also holds a cowbell contest at every gig, and this Friday's show will be no different. Usually three to five folks from the crowd come on stage one at a time, and play the cowbell for one minute of Don't Fear The Reaper (ala Gene Frenkle). The audience votes on the best, encouraged to base their decision on appearance, enthusiasm, stage presence, and musical ability. The winner is rewarded with the opportunity to play cowbell with the band on Kihn's The Breakup Song, and you also receive a prize package with five specially selected items (one from each member of the band). It should be noted, however, that these gifts might make Rice-A-Roni and Turtle Wax look really good. Previous prizes have included KY Jelly, expired condoms, Ramen Noodles, and a Mexican version of Saved by the Bell on VHS.
One of Chris Donohue's early bands was the Muncie, Indiana-based Mr. Green Jeans. From 1992-1994, they played fraternity and bar gigs in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky, including a show at Louisville's venerable Hikes Point haunt The Golden Nugget. Unlike Chicago-based indie band Lorenzo Music that had to change its name in the early 90s to La Musique Populaire after facing legal action from actor Lorenzo Music (the voice of Garfield and the doorman on Rhoda), actor High "Lumpy" Brannum who portrayed the beloved Mr. Green Jeans on Captain Kangaroo never sought any damages. "The real Mr. Green Jeans never bothered with us," Donohue said. "We were small potatoes, I guess."
Turn3, however, is not a small potatoes band. It has become something - cowbell contests aside - more serious to Donohue and his cohorts. As the members mature to their late 30s and early 40s, they believe the best is ahead of them even if stardom proves elusive. "Creating music has been extremely gratifying. Even if the music only reaches or touches a few people, there is nothing more satisfying than looking out in the crowd and seeing people singing along to songs we've written or having people tell us our music speaks to them," Donohue adds. "We're not quitting our day jobs anytime soon, but we believe in the music we've created and look forward to creating for many years to come"
Here's hoping one of Louisville's most underrated bands continues to do just that.