Editor’s note: The Dead Winter Carpenters and special guests kick off the WinterWonderGrass party tonight with a show at Moe’s Original Bar B Que in Tahoe City. The band hits the stage at 9 p.m. A few tickets are still available. Click HERE
At the end, there was exuberance on the dance floor and elation on the bandstand.
The drummer Brian Huston told the sold-out audience this was his favorite night. Fiddler Jenni Charles beamed it was her favorite night — “ever!” Guitarist Bryan Daines grinned in between swigs from a bottle of whiskey. The 6-foot-6 guitarist Jesse Dunn doffed his fedora and, flashing victory signs, raised his arms nearly to the rafters. Dave Lockhart hurtled over his bass and blew kisses to the crowd before dancing a jig, swinging his bent arms side to side and shuffling off the stage along with his bandmates, who danced along.
It was the crowning achievement for the Dead Winter Carpenters, and it happened in the most appropriate place: Where it all began.
Charles, who was with the band Truckee Tribe, and Dunn and Lockhart, who played with Montana Slim, put their bands together to form a new group in 2010. The Dead Winter Carpenters were embraced by Tahoe music fans at its first show, a Crystal Bay Casino after-party for Yonder Mountain String Band in the Red Room.
Since then it has voraciously toured the country, released records, made two personnel changes and resisted the temptation to expedite its rising fame by moving to Nashville or some other music hub. The term “hometown heroes” was used a lot on Saturday night.
“Jenni and Jesse are like royalty around here,” said Truckee musician Morgan Hargrave, who attended the show.
It was the CD release performance for “Washoe,” the Dead Winter Carpenters’ third full-length studio album and fourth overall. The band clearly has reached a mountaintop with the album engineered and produced by Kevin Bosley and Zachary Girdis and the Dead Winter Carpenters. Recorded at Reno’s Sierra Sonics and mixed mixed at Prairie Sun Recording Studios in Cotati, California, the record was mastered by Justin Phelps.
The gem in “Washoe” is its opening song, “Midnight Ghost,” which has a country-psychedelia flavor.
“Midnight Ghost” also was the opening song of night, and it instantly captured the attention of the chattering audience dressed in plaid shirts, knit beanies and miniskirts. The Dead Winter Carpenters consistently have sold out the Crown Room ever since it outgrew the smaller Red Room. While the Carpenters are undeniably Tahoe’s most popular band, its audience couldn’t have anticipated the powerful show that took place.
In the early years, the band’s shows were nonstop, high-energy stomps from start to finish. The songs and songwriting have improved, and each of the five members take turns singing leads. Now, there is more variety, with pauses between the well-crafted tracks.
Two sets were jammed into one on this night with 25 songs, a greatest-hits compilation delivered along with the new tunes from “Washoe.”
As they often do, the headliners invited friends onstage. Leroy Vigil of Hellbound Glory sang a couple of country trash songs and openers Gipsy Moon, a bluegrassy, klezmer-styled quartet from Colorado, filled the stage for a rendition of “Good Old Time.”
Gipsy Moon and the Dead Winter Carpenters will play three mid-March shows together in Colorado before both return to Tahoe for Winterwondergrass at Squaw Valley. Dunn revealed DWC will play an opening night show at Moe’s Original BBQ in Tahoe City and a late-night party at the festival.
Taking turns singing leads and playing solos, the Dead Winter Carpenters displayed seasoned command throughout its performance, which crescendoed toward the show’s end and the three-song encore. The instrumental at the end of the new song “Roland and Annalee” was a sonic painting reminiscent of “A Day in The Life” by the Beatles, only with some Tahoe twang. It was that great.
The Dead Winter Carpenters reached its all-time high. But, as the song goes, is it enough? That’s unlikely. This band keeps getting better, and it’s something very special to witness.
- Dead Winter Carpenters
‘Washoe’ release performance
Crystal Bay Casino, Feb. 27, 2016
- Midnight Ghost
I Shot Him
Love Amongst Thieves
White River Junction
Malt Liquor (with Leroy Vigil)
Mama Tried (with Leroy Vigil)
Good Old Time (with Gipsy Moon)
If I Wrote You a Song
Long Arm of the Law
One Foot in the Gutter
Roland and Annalee
Is it Enough?
Find Your Home
I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Whitney Houston cover)
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For Garrett Bethmann’s review of “Washoe,” click HERE
Bryan and Brian talk about the making of the new album. HERETo see the full set of Larry Sabo’s images, clickHERE
A close-up look by Clare Foster. Images below: