The Werks debuts in Tahoe on a night of jams

The Werks, above, and Twiddle will jam the Crown Room on Nov. 14.
The Werks, above, and Twiddle will jam the Crown Room on Nov. 14.

If you order a meal with “the works,” you’d better expect a full plate. If Crystal Bay Casino books a dual night of music with the Werks, you’d better expect a night of dancing, jamming, and a whole lot of fun.

The Werks appears in the Crown Room at the North Shore casino, sharing the bill with Twiddle for a Saturday night hoedown on Nov. 14.

Chris Houser (guitar), Rob Chafin (drums), Dino Dimitrouleas (bass) and Dan Shaw (keyboards) hail from Dayton, Ohio.

“The members have changed a bit, but we’ve been called the Werks since 2005,” Houser said. “This is our 10th year at it; things just seem to be getting better as we go along, we’re really grateful to be able to still be doing this.”

The fellows hit upon the band’s name while grabbing a midnight snack.

“We struggled over naming the band for awhile until one night, it was a late night,” Houser said. “Rob ordered a burger with the works, and that was how we came upon the name.”

Onstage, the band offers up a musical menu commensurate with its fully-loaded title.

“We’re a jam band for lack of a better term,” Houser said. “We like to call ourselves high energy improv rock, but we mix it up a lot, we play everything from dance music to ballads, to bluegrass to rock to just straight funk.”

Variety is a key part of the Werks approach to a performance.

“We play so many genres, that every show is really different,” Houser said. “We even try to make sure we’re not repeating songs in certain markets. It’s something we want to do for the fans because obviously we couldn’t do it without them.”

Improvisation is also a central theme in the band’s tunes. The group will play out extended instrumentals if the mood strikes them, sometimes up to 15 or 20 minutes, Houser said.

“It’s different every time, that’s the beauty of improv,” Houser said. “We always try to play a different set from city to city to keep ourselves entertained, and the band.”

The Werks has been on the road with Twiddle for much of the fall, playing an extended tour across the country.

“It’s amazing, this is the best tour I think either band has been on,” Houser said. “We’re such good friends, but we’ve only played together a handful of times. We’ve known them for just a couple years, but every member just clicked instantly with the corresponding player in the other band.”

As might be expected of two jam-oriented bands, the two groups have been sharing time and blending members during performances throughout the run.

“Whenever there’s room onstage, which isn’t every night, but that just helps make every night special,” Houser said of collaboration onstage. “We’ve been trying to do something different every night when we have the opportunity, and that just makes it that much more special for us.”

One particularly enjoyable night played out at Rams Head Live in Baltimore; a Martin guitar representative brought a car filled with the premier acoustic instruments, and the two bands played “The Weight” by The Band onstage together, all on Martin guitars.

“It was very special,” Houser said. “There’s some pro shop video of it that our good friend from Dayton, Jeremy Sewell, took. It’s really cool, he took video of us rehearsing it with the venue empty, and then he took some with the place packed, and spliced the two together.”

The Werks have been using the road trip to promote its new album, “Inside a Dream, due for release on November 20. This will be the group’s fifth album.

“Each time we’ve gotten into the studio, we’ve grown more comfortable with the studio,” Houser said. “The first couple of albums we really wanted to have that live feel. The last two, we’ve really grown comfortable with the studio. We wanted to make a studio album that has stuff in it that we can’t necessarily do live. That’s been a vision of ours for awhile.”

“Inside a Dream” is something of a concept album.

“The flow of the songs is geared to have the listener feel like they are in a dream,” Houser said. “Then at the end of the album, the listener wakes up out of the dream to realize that the entire album had occurred in a dream.”

Although the band came through the area recently, this show marks the Werks first performance in the Tahoe basin.

“We visited Tahoe; we were out there for High Sierra just a couple months ago,” Houser said. “We took a little scenic drive up to Tahoe; it actually happened to be the one day it rained. That was cool. That doesn’t happen all the time.”

The group is quite keen to play in the Crown Room at Crystal Bay.

“Our tour manager Kenny has filled us in on just how special it is to be playing there and we’re just grateful to be out there,” Houser said.

With a double billing of fun-loving friends jamming together, concertgoers should be prepared for a memorable evening.

“We want to have as much fun with music as possible,” Houser said. “The crowd really receives it well, you can see us having fun and it makes for a better experience for everybody.”

  • The Werks and Twiddle
    When: 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14
    Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
    Cover: free
    Red Room after-party: Electric Jimmys

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Tahoe Onstage is an online entertainment and sports magazine covering Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Reno, the Carson Valley and June Lake.

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