Las Tres Chicas – Glory in Hazel Town
If you’ve not yet heard Las Tres Chicas — the sweet-voiced trio of Whiskeytown’s Caitlin Cary, Hazeldine’s Tonya Lamm and Glory Fountain’s Lynn Blakey — you’ll have plenty of chances soon. Various incarnations of the Chicas will tour the U.S. this summer, and their dulcet vocal harmonies grace Alejandro Escovedo’s upcoming Bloodshot Records release. There’s also a Las Tres Chicas album in the works, plus a Hazeldine record and a Cary solo disc on the way.
For the time being, you’ll just have to take my word for it: Las Tres Chicas sing so pretty, it will put a lump in your throat, even if their name conjures up a vague ZZ Top association. Actually, the moniker comes from Raleigh’s Lakeside Lounge co-owner Van Alston, who booked the trio’s first show at his club last year before they even had a name. “He was gonna call us PWS, for ‘Purty Women Singin’,'” says Lamm. “But that just looked too much like PMS, so we said no way. He put it in the paper as ‘Las Tres Chicas,’ so there we were. It stuck.”
The Chicas actually originated as a duo of Cary and Lamm, playing together while both Whiskeytown and Hazeldine were on downtime last year. The duo turned into a trio with the addition of Blakey, whose overtures were not to be denied. “I accosted the two of them at a Backsliders show and said, ‘We have to do this,'” Blakey recalls. “So yeah, I horned in, and we were conceived in the Brewery women’s room during a Backsliders show.”
From the start, the combination of Blakey’s soaring vocals with the duskier tones of Lamm and Cary’s voices was special, although the members’ other projects limited their rehearsal time. The group became more of a priority this spring with the addition of a semi-regular rhythm section of Chris Stamey on bass, Whiskeytown sideman Mike Daly on guitar, and Whiskeytown alumnus (and Cary’s fiance) Skillet Gilmore on drums. The expanded Chicas lineup was one of the highlights of South by Southwest in Austin in March, and their momentum hasn’t slowed since.
Where they used to rely on songs from their other bands, enough Las Tres Chicas originals have emerged to warrant an album. Stamey is producing it this summer.
About the only problem is the occasional need to tone down Blakey’s perpetual exuberance. “I’ve been banned from laughing while we record,” Blakey says with mock sadness.
“It’s because we’re all going deaf!” Lamm says. “Your laugh is about 80 decibels louder than your speaking voice. So we’re trying to train her to cover her mouth.”