For the love of music: Three Times Through reimagine, blend traditional and modern music
Special to Prospector
This is the second time around for the band Three Times Through. Voted “Best Band” by readers in The Union’s Best Of 2020 competition, the quartet first began playing Americana, Folk, Celtic and Irish music in the late 1970s before a job opportunity separated the group for over twenty years. Their unique style of adding contemporary compositions amid traditional Celtic songs has made them an extremely popular group.
The band name refers to the tradition of playing Celtic tunes through three times. Comprised of married couples Jeff and Gale Peach, along with Greg and Margie Mirken, the quartet spent five years together, playing gigs in Southern California.
“We did this back when Carter was President in Orange County, California,” said Jeff. “We were probably the only Celtic band in Orange County at that time.”
The band played regularly until Jeff took a job at Magnolia Middle School in Grass Valley.
While the couples remained in touch, it wasn’t until the Mirkens retired and began traveling the country to find a new home that the group reunited. Margie said it wasn’t just their friends being here that made them decide to call Nevada County home, “Part of what was nice about it – it’s beautiful and our friends are here – but there is so much music here. Look at all these concerts and people playing in restaurants, so that was one thing.”
But it was their kids that convinced them to dust off their instruments. In a story book tale, a Peach son married a Mirken daughter, bringing the families back together.
“We were having a big meal and the kids said, ‘Hey, why don’t you get out your instruments and try to play,’ which we had not done, so we did and then we just kept on playing,” said Margie.
The foursome began messing around with traditional music, adding popular tunes in the middle, which they call mashups.
“The first one started with ’The Crested Hen’ which is French and finished with ’Leaving Brittany’ which is Scottish, and we put ’Eleanor Rigby’ in and so that was kind of fun,” explained Jeff. He said they noticed a lot of heads turning when they hit the recognizable piece and more money showed up in the tip jar, so they decided to expand on the idea.
“Now that’s about 30-50% of our repertoire,” Jeff said, “Whether it’s the theme to Star Wars, or Raiders, or something like Painted Black. What I like about it is it gives us a chance to share our love of Celtic music with the general public. We sort of get to force feed the public some Celtic in between, so we have a lot of fun with the mashups and are always looking for new ones and experimenting with different possibilities.”
They also accept challenges to incorporate popular tunes with the traditional music. Noting a night at (now defunct) Matteo’s Public in Nevada City, Margie said, “The proprietor’s wife was teasing us and dared us to do ’Stairway to Heaven’ and so we said challenge accepted and we went home to work it out.”
While they play hammer dulcimer, fiddle, banjo, guitar, concertina, mandolin and more between them, Margie added the instruments they play come with challenges. “They don’t have all the notes necessarily, or if they do have the notes, they don’t have the range, so there are some technical things we have to get around and just break some rules and that’s half the fun.”
She said it keeps the group busy. During this past year and through the COVID-19 pandemic the two couples have become their own pod, playing outside when they were able and now beginning to book regular gigs, including monthly engagements at Grass Valley Brewing and on the patio at Tofanelli’s in Grass Valley.
“This is the sum of our social life,” joked Greg. The group kept practicing throughout the pandemic and is looking forward to playing again for the public.
People often don’t realize they love Celtic music until they hear it, and the mashups are only adding to the popularity, which is the end game for the group.
“These melodies that we play are so beautiful in and of themselves that I think our goal is to not get in the way of them,” said Greg.
Getting “Best Band” reinforces that success. “We had no idea, of course, but we were very pleasantly surprised,” Gale said. The group has played around the county, at the Celtic Festival and at fundraisers, including A Night of Giving. You can learn more about Three Times Through and where to find them “mashing up” next at their website: http://www.threetimesthrough.com.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@ gmail.com.
Learn more about Three Times Through and check out a schedule of their upcoming performances at http://www.threetimesthrough.com
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