Watch Paul Geppert play David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" on a battered acoustic guitar. Listen to Dave Hanley fill between the lines with his banjo and Bob Shaffer keep time with an upright bass.
Give this band a label, and I'll give you a chocolate bar.
"People always have to label bands, but the labels never work," Hanley said.
Labels are for marketers and record bins. If 3 Wire must be pegged, put it in the "three guys who are just trying to have fun" category.
For the three members of 3 Wire, music has been a journey toward Dave Hanley's living room, and all paths are converging on an acoustic crossroads.
Hanley, who owns a guitar shop in Hayden, believes that if the guitar didn't exist, he would have invented it.
"When I was a kid, I would string rubberbands across the top of a shoebox. I was always a guitar player," Hanley said. He bought his first real guitar as a teenager and hasn't put the instrument down since.
Hanley and Geppert started playing together six years ago at a weekly open mic night that Geppert hosted at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore.
The two men had so much fun playing guitar at the informal sessions that they decided to start practicing and see where their new-found musical partnership could go.
Geppert picked up the guitar for the first time when he was 15. His grandparents were musical (only after he started playing the mandolin did he learn his grandfather was a mandolin player, too) and his high school friends were all musicians. Geppert was drawn to the blues and music by musicians such as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
"Some of it goes back to before I was born," he said. "You start playing that old music, and it's like an old pickup truck or an old pair of jeans. It's comfortable."
Hanley agreed with Geppert's musical outlook.
"The test of time is the ultimate judge," Hanley said.
The original version of 3 Wire had Geppert playing guitar and mandolin, Hanley on the guitar and banjo and a guy named Brian Eberhart on upright bass.
But just as the band started to gain momentum, Eberhart announced he was leaving town.
Geppert and Hanley were fans of a local Irish band called Shenanigans and knew the band's upright bass player, Bob Shaffer. Geppert made a phone call, and it didn't take much convincing.
"We barely missed a beat. In a week, we had a new bass player," Geppert said.
Their new bass player hailed from Detroit, where he grew up on Motown and rock 'n' roll. He learned the electric bass by playing punk and New Wave music but had his musical life changed when Ken Jones at the Home Ranch introduced him to the upright bass.
"I'd never touched a standup before," Shaffer said. "But I glommed onto his bass for years."
Shaffer added 3 Wire to his list of other bands. He also plays in County Road 41, Blue Dahli, Gaeltacht and the Home Ranch Hand Band.
"Bob is fearless when it comes to learning new tunes," Hanley said.
3 Wire has a set list ranging from the Grateful Dead and The Beatles to Gershwin and David Bowie, all played in a picking acoustic style.
They play often at the Glen Eden Resort and Creekside Cafe, as well as parties and just about any corner where someone will let three guys stand and play music.
"I always say we're living the dream," Hanley said. "Having a band is something I've always talked about. It's just plain fun and a great stress reduction."
The men work full-time jobs and
have no plans to push the band beyond
the boundaries of Colorado.
"We have no ambitions of taking this to Nashville. We have day jobs and families," Geppert said. "But people seem to be into it. It always surprises me when we pull out an old John Prine song and there's an 18-year-old singing along and a 55-year-old next to him singing to it, too."