As Mike Domulot puts it: “One thing kind of leads to another thing.” It’s the viewpoint that Three Bean Soup has embraced while brandishing a unique path to a growing area fan base.
Their foundation lies in the father-daughter duo of Domulot and Jamie Weis. The pair often includes a “third bean,” inviting a range of special guests to join them on any given night.
“As soon as my daughter was able to graduate from college, she decided that she wanted to play her violin and viola,” says Domulot. “I ended up picking up my old guitar.” With that, the duo quickly became a staple at coffee shops across Pensacola.
“We mostly do a lot of covers—songs that you’re familiar with,” says Domulot on what one can expect from a Three Bean Soup gig. “A comment that we always get at the end is, ‘That’s a neat way to do that song.’ When is the last time you’ve heard ‘Route 66’ with a steel drum?
“I told my daughter, let’s do things a little different. Let’s do kind of our style, kind of a coffee shop type of thing, and let’s see where it goes. So far, it’s been really good, and we kind of salt and pepper our own stuff in there.” There isn’t a firm plan on when Three Bean Soup will record their originals—Domulot simply affirms that it will happen.
How did the name come about? Domulot’s mother provided the unlikely inspiration on what was a spur of the moment decision. “My mother passed away six years ago,” he says. “She made a soup called three bean soup. I didn’t think it was a great soup. I never really liked it. I learned to like it—not the soup, but the name.”
The moniker stuck, as has Domulot’s mother’s influence on the group’s playing decisions. “When my mother passed away, she was in a nursing home, and I never got a chance to perform for her. She never saw me and my daughter play. I said to myself that if I was ever asked to do a nursing home gig that I would do it.”
And so they do, along with regularly donating their time and talent to causes across the region like the Guitars for Vets program.
“I started about three years ago,” Domulot says of a chance meeting that brought him into the fledgling Pensacola program. “Most of them are Viet Nam vets, and a lot of them suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. So part of their therapy is to learn how to play guitar.
“It’s a challenge for both of us, but you stick with it. I figured out after a few sessions that it’s all about therapy. It isn’t about how quickly they can learn. It’s a group therapy thing, and they really enjoy being there. When I feel they are comfortable, I try to get them to do a little concert for their peers.”
Once the vets get their feet wet, Domulot brings them out to one of Three Bean Soup’s gigs. “I’ll introduce them, and I always tell them, ‘Don’t worry about anything. If you miss a chord, I’ll pick it up. If you get lost, just keep going.’
“The look on their wives’ or their kids’ eyes when they see their dads up their playing…I get a great feeling out of that. My dad was a war veteran, and I can see where it is therapy for them. And it’s therapy for me. I get a lot out of it just being with the guys.”