Last year, Tim Lee led an acoustic quartet that hosted a month-long series of weekly early shows at Pilot Light called 4X4. The final show in the series featured a guest appearance by local poet and songwriter R.B. Morris, which has now led to a second season, called 3X4. (This time, Lee's band, the Tim Lee 3, is hosting the four-week series, which runs every Thursday through October.)
"Last year R.B. had such a good time that we kept talking about it all year, and finally this summer we got serious and decided to do it in October," Lee says. "A lot of it has got to do with doing something early. A lot of people can't go to late shows, especially during the week. There's a potential music audience not being catered to, or if it is, it's singer/songwriters, something quieter. I said, let's do a rock 'n' roll thing."
This year's series started on Oct. 4, with performances by Lee and his band, Morris, and Oxford, Miss., singer/songwriter Tyler Keith, as well as a screening of We Didn't Get Famous, a short documentary on underground music in the South during the 1970s and '80s. The residency continues tonight with a guest appearance by Will Fist of Three Man Band and Big Bad Oven, followed with special performances by the Charlotte, N.C, Americana band Leadville Social Club (Oct. 18) and Jack Rentfro and the Apocalypso Quartet (Oct. 25). The shows start at 7 p.m. Admission is $5.
"We're approaching every week differently," Lee says. "As soon as we get one done, we start working on the format for the next one. Last week R.B. played with an acoustic trio and played with us some. Next time it'll be different. And we'll do a different set of songs each week."
The Tim Lee 3—Lee on guitar and vocals, his wife, Susan, on bass and vocals, and drummer Chris Bratta—also have a big batch of recordings set for release soon. The biggest project is a full-length album—the group's third, and the follow-up to 2010's double-disc Raucous Americanus—scheduled tentatively for February. Two of the 13 songs on the new disc were recorded in Knoxville with Scott Minor, five others in Austin, and six in Tuscon, Ariz.
"It'll be a little different from last time," Lee says. "The parts that are loud and noisy will be louder and noisier, and the parts that are poppy will be poppier. It's just more of what it is. Also, Susan sings a lot more. She sings lead on more songs than I do, I think. She's gotten a lot more confident, and she's such a good singer anyway. In the studio, her confidence is all there now. She steps up and knocks it out. I love to watch that."
Lee says he also has enough material recorded in the acoustic quartet format used at last year's 4X4 series for an EP, and a live disc waiting to be mastered.