Winter Is Coming: Tahoe’s favorite Carpenters have two nights in the Crown Room

Dead Winter Carpenters
The Dead Winter Carpenters don’t need snow boots when there’s palm trees and a Winter’s Dead weekend.

The Dead Winter Carpenters are very much alive, and, in fact, there is evidence it even may be an international sensation: The band’s elk-horn logo displayed on a sticker was spotted in Honduras.

Folks in South America will miss the quintet this weekend but Tahoe concertgoers are in for a double-dip helping of the Dead Winter Carpenters, who play consecutive nights in the Crystal Bay Casino.

“It’s kind of funny seeing our stickers in the most obscure places,” guitarist Jesse Dunn said. “We’re optimistic that it’s going to keep getting better. We are going to keep pushing because we are having a blast. This is what we love to do.”

Called “Winter’s Dead,” a Memorial weekend twin bill features the Dead Winter Carpenters on Friday and Saturday nights in the Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room. A back-to-back billing is a “Crowning” achievement for the Tahoma (West Shore) band. Other groups who have done it are Tea Leaf Green and .moe.

The Dead Winter Carpenters hit the ground running, or maybe we should say stepped on the bandstand dancing, that’s the bent of its flitting fiddler, Jenni Charles. As Dunn says, “When you bring an electric violin into the mix, it’s going to be a hoedown.”

After securing a March 2010 date at the Crystal Bay Casino Red Room as after-party host following the Yonder Mountain String Band, the group came up with its positively Tahoe name. Comprised of members from Charles and Dunn’s respective bands, the Dead Winter Carpenters nailed that show and quickly built a fan base. It soon moved to the CBC’s larger Crown Room where it first played for no cover charge, then became a ticketed feature, the barometer for a successful touring national band.

The Dead Winter Carpenters’ ascent coincides with a popularity rise in bluegrass music.

Dunn, who was so good at hitting the twine of a basketball net he played Division 1 college ball, now makes a living making a twang. (Notice the strategic positioning of Dunn in the band’s publicity shots. Folks who haven’t seen the band onstage might not realize he’s about 6-foot-5.) Instead of hoops, he deals with hyphens when describing his band’s music.

“It’s more like an alt-country-telecaster-twang sound,” Dunn said “But we still cross a ton of genres and do different covers from funk to hip-hop, but were mostly zeroing in on that Americana, alt-country route. A ragtime roots with drums sort of sound. Not exactly bluegrass but it doesn’t stray far from that path.”

The band recently added guitarist Bryan Daines and drummer Justin Kruger.

The Memorial Day weekend appearance is becoming a tradition.The Dead Winter Carpenters’ CD release party for “Ain’t it Strange” was exactly a year ago.

Like “Ain’t it Stange,” the next record will be full length, not an EP, which has become fashionable in today’s buy-a-song-at-a-time paradigm.

“We’re throwing around ideas about studios and producers and timing,” Dunn said. “We’re ready to get something going. We are going to make it a point to have something new recorded by this summer and a release by early fall. We have enough material for full length. I am kind of old school. By taking our time have amassed enough stuff for a full album.”

Friday night’s theme is formal, as in “spiffy” clothes, Dunn said. Saturday is beach attire in celebration of Daines’ birthday.

(Editor’s note: Tahoe Onstage’s editor really is in South America this week. We will look for a good spot to put a DWC sticker in Ecuador.)

 Winter’s Dead

Feature: Dead Winter Carpenters

  • Friday, May 24: with the California Honeydrops
    Red Room after-party: the Paisley Brain Cells
  • Saturday, May 25: with He’s My Brother She’s My Sister
    Red Room after-party: Achilles Wheel
  • Tickets: $15 in advance, $18 day of show, $25 for two day pass

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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