Popular 90s Cleveland Band Third Wish Reunites at the House of Blues

Sat 8/12 @ 8PM

If you were frequenting local bars and clubs during the mid-late ’90s, odds are you caught one (or a dozen) shows by Third Wish. Popular among fans from the alternative nation, during its six years together, the roots rock act released three CDs and performed locally (Phantasy Nite Club, Peabody’s Down Under and the Odeon Concert Club) as well as throughout the Midwest.

Now after more than a decade apart, the band — Dan Heberlein (vocals), Tara Marie Wegling (vocals), Jerry Buescher (drums), Paul Lewis (bass), Greg Henderson (fiddle), Tim Hruby (guitar), Curtis Leonard (guitar), Blane Warrene (guitar) and Ryan Dawson (guitar) — has announced a reunion show Sat 8/12 at the House of Blues’ Cambridge Room.

CoolCleveland talked to Third Wish co-founder Heberlein about the reunion gig, the ’90s and potential new material.

When was the Third Wish reunion seed planted?

Last year some of the guys asked me about it, but the timing wasn’t right for me considering my father had just passed away. Then in January I was in Florida where Ryan lives. I hadn’t talked to him for a while so we met up. He brought his guitar, and we were playing some tunes in my hotel room. That’s when I said, “Let’s do this.” So since January it’s been snowballing.

Why was the timing right for a Third Wish reunion?

It felt like from listening to people that were close to the band, and not just fans but family and close friends, they needed it. They said this would be something that they would be looking forward to and excited about. So that kind of got us pumped up about it. Then after I got in contact with Ryan and got some of the old songs and listening to some of the new stuff he had prepared, I was like, “OK, let’s do it.”

Wait, Third Wish has new material?

We probably won’t be doing any of the new stuff because rehearsing a lot of the old stuff has taken time, but there is new stuff that I’m kind of excited about. We’re thinking of maybe putting out a three or four song demo or something. With modern technology, we can send each other files. So it’s just something we’re talking about. I’d like to think we’d have something written and recorded in the next year or so.

Going back to the ’90s, how did Third Wish form?

We were just kind of into playing in front of our friends and family. It was fun. We’d say we’re doing an open mic night, and everyone would come up and pack the place. The bar owners asked us if we wanted our own night. It wasn’t really something we thought about. Then he said, “I’ll give you $200 in free beer.” We were like, “Alright, where do we sign?” It kind of snowballed from there. Word of mouth got around, and everywhere we played up and down Detroit Road in Lakewood, we’d just pack the places. We all lived in a house in Lakewood we called the Third Wish house. It was on Clifton. It was a huge double. That’s kind of how it started. We eventually got in contact with an agent. We were booked on huge college runs down to Florida and out to Colorado. That’s kind of how it took off.

Third Wish was always categorized as a rootsy blues band. How would you describe the group’s sound?

We’ve always struggled with this question, what kind of music we play? People compared us to a Rusted Root because we have that female vocal presence with Tara. People compared us to an acoustic-driven alternative rock. I think when me and Ryan started, all of our songs were just chords on guitar and a melody line that I would come with vocally. Then we’d present it to the band members who had all of these different influences. We’d present the chord structure and the melody, and we’d build on that.

Considering Third Wish played more than 200 shows in 22 states, did you ever feel like the band could have made the jump to a national act?

We were really close. In fact, there were some national acts we did play for, whether it was opening on a side stage at Blossom for Santana to doing big shows with a lot of the Aware (Records) bands. Sister Hazel, Train and Jackopierce were Aware bands. We liked that kind of music and got in with their managers and told them about our success in Cleveland. We were really close to getting signed by Aware, but they never pulled the trigger.

Looking back, do you feel there was missed opportunity or are you impressed at what Third Wish accomplished?

Of course, at the time the band disbanded you looked at it as a missed opportunity; however, the way our lives have gone, I’m married now and have four kids, I wouldn’t take that back for anything. Yeah, you do kind of get the “Oh man, if we would have done this different.” With the technology and the way bands are doing stuff now, it’s like, “Gosh, if we would have had that back then.”

Finally, what’s your fourth wish for the band?

That this show will ignite some creativity in the band members as well as provide our fans with that feeling once again they had when they were at our shows. We’re doing this for them to be there and feel it again. And hopefully there will be some new people who are attending because they heard about us. That’s going to be kind of cool for people who never saw us before. It’s going to be neat. Also, there could be more reunion shows in our future.

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