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What do you do after founding your own theater, performing with Second City Detroit or studying theater at Wayne State? Well, grab a guitar, set up a tape recorder on a coffee table and chronicle your life as a rock star, of course. Pat Loos, Dustin Gardener and Topher Owen (aka “Three Guys Named Joe”) have done just that. The majority of 1st Official Bootleg CD was recorded live at Detroit-area shows, including the band’s stint as Bittersweet Coffee House’s Sunday night special.

The Joes’ version of comedic rock is less goofy Adam Sandler than it is rocking Tenacious D. In fact, the latter band’s influence is so strong, if it weren’t for solid musical skills and inspired improvisation, Three Guys Named Joe might be accused of claiming territory that has already been staked. Beautiful, three-part harmonies and deft crowd interaction provide the Joes’ saving grace. All live tracks on the album are created on the spot with the help of audience suggestions.

Rowdy crowds invariably answer the band’s calls for material with obscenities (thus, the explicit content advisory on the back of the CD). “Love Stick” is a response to one audience member’s insinuation that Owen and Gardener are, um, rather close for bandmates. Owen’s call for a “favorite body part” on a later track culminates in the glorious harmonies of “Nut Sack.”

“Little Best Friend” (a song about dogs running in a field) and “Don: A Man’s Life in Song” (the result of a short interview with a Wayne State football player who attended a show) provide some of the cleaner comedic moments. And when the band is not fielding audience commentary, they’re simply strumming along to the tune of their own egos. “Rock Me” lends the biggest nod to Tenacious D as Loos takes the guitar up a notch and Gardener belts out, “When I look into your eyes, Topher, it’s no surprise, you’re gonna rock me!

Are the band’s influences obvious? Yes. Is the album’s sound quality at the studio level? No. That said, Loos, Gardener and Owen still have an edge on the world of improvisational rock ’n’ roll. Three Guys Named Joe have drawn on their extensive backgrounds in music, comedy and theater to tap into a unique genre. As Tenacious D might say, Three Guys Named Joe’s 1st Official Bootleg CD could very well rock your socks off.

E-mail Kari Jones at letters@metrotimes.com.

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