Bermuda Triangle: Former Enemies Who Drink Tequila on the Porch Make Good

Becca Mancari explains the origins of her new musical trio with Brittany Howard of The Alabama Shakes and Jesse Lafser.

Naturally, things started with tequila.

Asked for details on the formation of Bermuda Triangle — a new “super” trio of made up of powerhouse Alabama Shakes vocalist Brittany Howard and Nashville regulars Becca Mancari and Jesse Lafser — Mancari confirms that drinking was involved.

“Honestly, how the Triangle started was kind of a game of fates,” she says. “It was just a night of drinking tequila. I just drank enough to ask them if they wanted to do a show. We’re porch musicians. We just hang out and drink tequila and smoke cigarettes.”

Mancari’s humble nature is genuine, although the women of Bermuda Triangle do a bit more than trade shots and suck down Marlboros. Each member comes with a career of her own, topped by Howard’s fame as the frontwoman of the Grammy-winning blues-rock outfit The Alabama Shakes. Lafser, too, is an accomplished singer-songwriter, and last year Mancari released Good Woman, an album whose sound reflects her status as a Nashville outsider.

Lafser and Mancari have run in the same social circles for years, starting as competitors before becoming close friends. Mancari describes Lafser as having a “Dylan-esque” quality, something she found off-putting.

“We were kind of enemies, actually,” Mancari laughs. “We, like, didn’t really like each other at first because we felt the other’s vibe was too similar.”

Eventually, someone suggested the two hang out, and they quickly became pals, even touring together in 2014. Mancari recalls first meeting Howard at a house party. At the time, the rockstar with the powerful pipes was already well-known in Nashville, but the Alabama Shakes had yet to achieve global fame. The two chatted about Howard’s dog and later met up to mattress-shop and go to Kmart.

At some point, one of them suggested they book a show, and on July 12, 2017 at Nashville’s Basement East, Bermuda Triangle was born.

Mancari describes their style of performance as a type of freedom — a style of music beyond their career obligations that is first and foremost about having some damn fun.

“We like to joke that our shows are just us really welcoming you into our friendship,” she says. “It’s only about us having a good time. That’s the only reason why we do it.”

To date, they’ve played only a handful of shows in and around Tennessee and released two singles. The first, “Rosey,” is a fresh take on a cut from Lafser’s 2015 album, Raised on the Plains. A reflective breakup ode, it sees the three women sharing vocal duties over a soft backbeat. Then, in October, they dropped “Suzanne,” which offered a curious public its first taste of original music from the band. Imbued with a tropical flare and backed by a drum machine, the song is a tender ballad with another blend of vocals saturated in captivating harmonies.

For Mancari, Nashville artists getting together to make music is a story as old as the city itself.

“You wouldn’t believe the nights you can have in Nashville,” she says. “It doesn’t matter who has a Grammy. It doesn’t matter who has a lot of fans. If you’re a great songwriter, you’re going to hang out with a lot of people and it’s going to be one of those natural things.”

There is something immensely refreshing about a band that, in the age of the internet, has managed to keep most of its plans under wraps. Before they announced a short West Coast tour earlier this month, no one was even sure whether Bermuda Triangle was still an active project.

Asked for details on the possibility of the band eventually releasing an album, Mancari plays coy.

“What I can say is that you should definitely expect some kind of music from us,” she says after careful consideration. “That’s all I can say about that.”

Perhaps more important than those details is what Bermuda Triangle represents. To have Nashville’s hot new act be comprised of three women with varying sexual orientations and ethnicities is a marked departure for a city not known for its musical diversity.

“We really like to tell the truth, but I think we always try to do it with love and graciousness,” Mancari says. “I feel like that’s the only way change can really happen. We’re trying to just do what we can to be ourselves and be proud of who we are. I think that helps in and of itself, to not be afraid to have our girlfriends on the road. My girlfriend comes out and sells merch a lot of time for us, and I’ll say on stage, ‘Go buy something from my beautiful girlfriend!’ You can tell that means something to our crowds.

“There is change coming,” she adds. “It is subtle. It is always happening, and I think this band does do something for that.”

Bermuda Triangle 
Tuesday, Feb. 6, 8 p.m., at The Independent, 628 Divisadero St. $27.50-$30; 415-771-1421 or the independentsf.com 
Wednesday, Feb. 7, 8 p.m., at Bimbo’s 365 Club, 1025 Columbus Ave. $27.50; 415-474-0365 or bimbos365club.com.

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