The Chandler Travis Three-o, like most things in life, started by mistake, as a result of Chandler having a hard time finding rooms large enough to house his nine-piece Chandler Travis Philharmonic. In 2009 or so, a couple of small, friendly bars opened on Cape Cod (the first being the Harvest Wine Gallery in Dennis) that asked Chandler about doing something with just another person or two, which wasn’t at all the direction he’d been going in.
These offers coincided happily with the arrivals in the Philharmonic of string bassist John Clark and jack of all trades (but especially saxophonist, keyboardist, and clarinetist) Berke McKelvey. Chandler had dabbled in smaller formats before, but in Clark and McKelvey he suddenly had two extremely talented and enthusiastic players who shared his passion for detailing, arranging, and rehearsing. Both played beautifully on his recent solo album, 2009’s well received “After She Left“, which turned out to be sort of a petri dish version of the live group to come, and with the frequent addition of vocalist and longtime supporter Fred Boak, aka The Valet (for what good is a Three-o with only three people?), the Three-o was born.
At least two unexpected surprises followed: it gradually became evident that the Three-o could play just about anything the full version of the band could play, once they put in the time to adjust the arrangements, plus a few things it couldn’t; and it immediately became evident that audiences responded to the tighter focus in a delightful way, clearly picking up on the songwriting, which has always been at the heart of the matter in all of Chandler’s bands, in a way they didn’t when confronted with all the many distinctive personalities and riotous pageantry of the full CTP or the hell-bent-on-filling-the-dance-floor high energy of his other band, the Incredible Casuals. The vast simplification seemed to engage people in a disarming and unassuming way, quieter and more direct. Lo and behold: it was dug!