3 Twins: An Abridged Family History

A retrospect look at 15 years of Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest through the eyes of Scene.

3 Twins changed after headlining Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest

By Conor Hooley
A lot can happen in a quarter of a century. In the last 25 years alone, five different presidents have held the oval office, four Die Hard movies have been made and the Denver Nuggets have even won three playoff series. In Fort Collins, a countless array of bands have come and gone in that time span; some finding varying levels of success, most of them conceded that they’d be better off pursuing day jobs. A select few have, amazingly, stayed together.
Steve Amadee, Tim Cook and John Magnie comprise such a group–well, more accurately, they comprise two. One is The Subdudes, their well-known project that melds folk music with the traditional New Orleans rhythms the band mastered during their time in the Crescent City. More recently, however, they’ve renovated their lesser-known rock ‘n’ roll-centric 3 Twins side project, and this summer they’re taking it on the road.

Subdudes play Mountain stage at Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest 2017. Photo by Cynthia Wilson.
Subdudes play Mountain stage at Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest 2017. Photo by Cynthia Wilson.

“The 3 Twins is about being a big dance experience,” explains Magnie, the group’s resident accordion player, keyboardist and Merlin doppelganger. “Kind of groove-oriented service that everyone gets together on. It is about rhythms and dancing and drawing from old, rock ‘n’ roll style roots.”

The name references another relic of that bygone era.

“We called ourselves 3 Twins because 3 Stooges was already taken,” deadpans bassist Tim Cook. “One of these days we might even do a TV series with all the ridiculous things that have happened to the 3 Twins over the years. I think it would be a great half-hour of television.”
Magnie, a well-traveled Denver native who has called Fort Collins home since 1987 (his second stint in the city), traces the origins of 3 Twins back to 1996. It was the same year that The Subdudes “broke up,” for lack of a better term (the ‘dudes would re-unite in 2002, and are still actively playing music under that moniker).
“In ’96 we started doing this 3 Twins project after [the breakup],” Magnie recalls. We then added our guitarist Jay Clear, who is just a treasure of a player. We made a CD called Trinkets and have been doing 3 Twins gigs, even just once or twice a year, since ’98.”
For the next 11 years, the group would play out occasionally, but only as a side project. A fortuitous booking at NewWestFest ’09, however, drastically changed that emphasis–and called for expansion.
“Two summers ago we went to do NewWestFest, and they gave us a nice opening spot, so we decided to add some horns: Greta Cornett, John Giordanegro and Phuong Nguyen,” Magnie explains. “They were all in the horn section for 12 Cents for Marvin. Then we added a singer, Nicole Zentveld. It just worked out so well, that it seemed like the new thing we wanted to do. It set the direction for the new version of the band.”
The Twins have built a steady head of steam ever since and, having decided to take a break from touring under their Subdudes guise, will be spending their summer covering a lot of ground. The group has already booked dates in Denver, Fort Collins, Telluride and Durango. An album is also being planned for sometime in the future. But it certainly isn’t being rushed.
“We’re working on our whole set of material,” explains Magnie. “We want to take it real slow and let it develop through the live shows. We haven’t played enough together to let the stuff kind of brew. So after we do that for another year or so we’ll probably put out an album.”
In the meantime, the Twins are happy to still be playing music in Fort Collins, let alone reaffirming themselves as a player in the scene.
“We could have moved to New York or L.A. and maybe gotten lost with the bands there,” recalls Magnie, “but Fort Collins really worked out great as a hometown for us… I’ve seen it grow to the point where it’s actually a really vibrant music scene.”
He’s right. So much is made these days about the fledgling phenomenon that is the Fort Collins music scene, and rightly so, for many reasons (several of them receiving extensive coverage in this very publication). Yet it’s worth remembering that musicians were playing here before Head for the Hills was a nationally touring act, before Pretty Lights registered his 1,000,000th download and long before Danielle and her penchant for sandwiches became a viral video sensation. Some of them, like 3 Twins, still are–and have no intention of stopping.
“It’s fun being one of the granddads around here,” quips Magnie.
Find out more about the ’dudes and their many musical projects at subdudes.com.

2011 Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest poster. Courtesy of Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest.

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