Don't come to a Tres Chicas show expecting to rumba. Despite the Spanish name, Tres Chicas is a trio of female performers with a rootsy alternative pop twist. Three of North Carolina's most respected musicians -- Caitlin Cary, Tonya Lamm and Lynn Blakey -- make up the band, and each has a winning track record on the Southeast music scene.
Cary was a charter member of Whiskeytown with alternative country-rock diva Ryan Adams. Since her former band's demise, Cary has recorded an EP ("Waltzie") and two albums ("While You Weren't Looking" and "I'm Staying Out") and toured the United States and abroad with her four-piece band.
Lamm was a founding member of Hazeldine, which released four albums before calling it quits. Her vocals have appeared on recordings by Alejandro Escovedo and James Iha (of Smashing Pumpkins). Blakey is a veteran of highly touted Southern alternative bands Let's Active (which also included studio wizard Mitch Easter) and Oh-OK. She also currently fronts Glory Fountain, which released its second album, "The Beauty of 23," in 2002.
Working with drummer Skillet Gilmore (who played for Whiskeytown and Cary's solo projects) and producer Chris Stamey (formerly of the dB's), Tres Chicas released a debut, "Sweetwater," on Yep Roc Records in June. All three women contributed songs to the CD, which also includes a selection of choice covers from the likes of George Jones ("Take the Devil Out Of Me"), Loretta Lynn ("Deep as Your Pocket") and Lucinda Williams ("Am I Too Blue"). Though the Tres Chicas' harmonies have been described as angelic, their barbed lyrics reveal deeper, darker emotions beneath the pretty melodies.
Although the Chicas intend to record again as a band, they say their other musical obligations mean it will probably be some time before the next Tres Chicas album. The trio plans to tour the United States through the fall. This Iota date is one of the first shows outside their home state of North Carolina.
Austin-based singer-songwriter Trish Murphy will open the night, performing tunes from her latest release, "Girls Get In Free," a collection of sassy charmers, including a rowdy duet with Austin hero/hunk Bob Schneider on Lyle Lovett's "Cowboy Man." The Austin Chronicle called the CD "a striking tableau of empowerment, whimsicality, and longing set to rich, rootsy textures."
Murphy is a Houston native whose father, himself a musician, taught his three children to sing background harmonies. After college, Murphy formed a duo with her younger brother -- Trish & Darin -- that was a hit in the Houston area in the early 1990s.
Murphy's catalogue includes four albums, and she has played on the Lilith Fair tour and on the "Mountain Stage" and "World Cafe" radio shows. After "Captured," her third CD, was released in 2001, she took a year and a half off before returning to the studio to record the mature, confident material of "Girls Get In Free."
-- MARIANNE MEYER
Iota Club & Cafe is at 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. Admission is $12, payable at the door (tickets are not sold in advance) and limited to those 21 and older with valid ID. For more information, call 703-522-8340 or visit www.iotaclubandcafe.com.
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