'Classically trained garage band' Time For Three to play with MSO
Not surprisingly, the number three is one of significance for the members of Time For Three, the self-described “classically trained garage band,” that will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 29, with Maryland Symphony Orchestra.
The group has previously performed with the MSO on the stage of The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., in downtown Hagerstown in 2013 and 2016.
“It’s very special for us to play somewhere for the third time. But we don’t mind playing there more often,” quipped Time For Three double bass player and vocalist Ranaan Meyer, during a telephone interview from his Cherry Hill, N.J., home.
Meyer also joked that Time For Three offers “life-changing music that will shape the audience for the rest of their lives, humbly speaking of course.”
The trio, which also consists of violinists and vocalists Nick Kendall and Charles Yang, offers a mix of originals and some familiar cover tunes, including Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” In addition, they will perform a mashup of the Guns N’ Roses classic “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” with music by late-19th century Austro-Bohemian Romantic composer Gustav Mahler.
Meyer said they aim to perform uplifting and positive-themed music. The group also boasts a new song written for them called, “Vertigo,” and a piece divided into, appropriately, three segments, “Joy,” “She Don’t Care,” and “Deanna.” The trilogy, Meyer explained, pays homage to the life of a singer on the road.
For Meyer, music has been a way of life. He began playing piano at age 4.
“My mother was a pianist and she taught me,” he recalled. From there, he experimented with the cello at age 9, but quit after a few months. By age 11, when he was big enough to hold it, he started learning the bass. All the while, he was involved in musical theater. “I had this lovely adolescent voice until I was about 13 and Mother Nature intervened,” Meyer said.
By age 15, Meyer joined a jazz trio, which led to an incident that solidified his commitment to music. His group performed a benefit for a young lady who had cancer. “Being a part of that just kind of made me fall in love with music,” Meyer said.
While he wanted to pursue music as a career, he did not have the means to pursue it without some help. His diligence to his craft earned him a scholarship to Manhattan School of Music. Eventually, he ended up at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he met Kendall and another artist who was originally part of the group.
“There was a change, and then we found Charles (Yang), and the rest is history,” Meyer said.
Their work has earned them a barrage of accolades. “We’re sort of the black sheep of the orchestra world, but we get to play whatever we want. We get a lot of support from the orchestra world,” he said.
Performing as a trio for so many years, Meyer said the three have a deep connection. “There’s something really special when we’re playing together. We’re all brothers, the camaraderie is like a sports team, and there’s still a sense of friendship.”
Prior to the Feb. 29 performance in Hagerstown, Time for Three will also perform this month with both the Seattle and Buffalo Philharmonics. When they are onstage with other orchestras, Time for Three performs for about an hour-and-a-half for each show, which adds up to about 5 hours per month, Meyer said.
Meyer said the trio is on the road for about half of the year, a full-time job in itself. “But we’re all crazy enough to do other things, too,” he quipped.
One of their latest ventures is working with an organization called Musicians On Call, where performers play music or sing in hospitals. According to information about musiciansoncall.org, the mission is to “deliver the healing power of music.”
Meyer said the trio was approached by Michael E. Marks, president of the Board of Trustees at The Julliard School in New York, about performing with Musicians on Call.
“We started in December. We play in rooms for patients and in the lobby for staff and family members,” Meyer said.
“We love playing concert halls, but there’s something so powerful and extraordinary about (playing in hospitals),” Meyer said, noting the performances have opened up their music to a new demographic. “(We see) people who are not thinking about music. We’re distracting them from their daily routine, uplifting them. I would love to do this every day if I could.”
Meyer said the trio also works together to write their own music. “We look for a vibe, a groove, and when we get it, we usually say, ‘Oh, we should have recorded that.’”
Yet, it still usually works out. “We have a wonderful tour manager who is always with us and is usually recording us,” Meyer said.
Yang is the main lyricist for the group, filling in the words to the music they’ve created. “The music comes first,” Meyer said.
During their nearly 17 years together, the members of Time for Three have worked with some acclaimed names, including Liz Rose, known for her work with Taylor Swift. “(She’s) an incredible songwriter,” Meyer said, noting Rose wrote Time for Three’ singles, “All The Way you Love,” “Over” and “Joy.” They’ve also worked with Grammy-winning producer and songwriter Femke Weidema.
Fans can catch up with Time for Three on various social media platforms, where they can also stream and download music.
As for their return to Hagerstown to play with The Maryland Symphony Orchestra, “we’re looking forward to it,” Meyer said, and shared a story about their previous shows with the orchestra. “There was this really adorable thing the first time we were there. There was this young boy in the audience and he was conducting us … from the balcony above the stage,” he said.
During a break, the trio got together and agreed to let the boy conduct them himself.
“He got it really quickly,” Meyer said. “Then we got to see him the next time we came back (and he was) a young man. It’s moments like this that make our live performances very special.”
Top photo: Time For Three consists of Charles Yang, left, Nick Kendall, center and Ranaan Meyer. (Submitted photo)