CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. - After a three week hiatus from a heavy touring schedule, North Shore's Dead Winter Carpenters will play the Crown Room at Crystal Bay Casino on Saturday night, bringing its signature blend of rock, Americana, and folk music back in front of a home crowd.
"Yeah, we're at Crystal Bay now about everysix6 months, rather than every three months or so," fiddle-player and vocalist Jenni Charles said.
Why is DWC spending more and more time away from its home turf? Because the band's unique sound and captivating live act have led to ever-increasing success and notoriety on stages all over the nation.
While this summer saw the band at free concert series' in Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe, opening for the Sam Bush Band at Tahoe Donner in July, and at Squaw Valley's Peaks and Paws benefit in August. DWC spent most of its time on tour, hitting the Northwest String Summit, High Sierra Music Festival and many other venues. The strenuous concert schedule is paying off.
"We've definitely seen an increase in our fan base," Charles said. "Every time we go out somewhere new, it always starts out small, but we end up getting to know a few people in town and getting the word out on the Internet.
"It's just going out, you know, trying to get as much publicity as we can. Then the next time we come out, it's basically word of mouth, people talking to friends. Every time we go back, we see more people showing up. It's really fun for us. One thing too, we've noticed, is people travelling farther to come see us."
Charles and bandmates Jesse Dunn (guitar, vocals), Sean Duerr (guitar, vocals), Ryan Davis (drums, vocals), and Dave Lockheart (bass, vocals) took a three-week break in November, regrouping at home with friends and family for Thanksgiving. Now, they're gearing up for shows in the American Northwest, and writing as many new songs as they can.
"There's a lot of new material in the works, but we're not getting in the studio anytime soon. Hopefully, we want to come out with something in the next year," Charles said. "It's definitely a challenge, putting out a new album independently, the funds just aren't there. On the way back from Colorado we blew our transmission, something like that can really put a monkey wrench in your whole plan."
Asked about songwriting inspiration and influences, Charles returned to a constant theme of the band: the rigors of touring.
"I would say life on the road," she said. "All of our experiences from the road, both on and off. Obviously our lifestyles have led to a lot of road-worthy songs. Hardship too, there's always love and loss."
One simple reason to head to the Crown Room Saturday night: DWC fans that have long enjoyed material from the first two albums will be able to sink their teeth into some new tunes.
"We're definitely playing (new material) live," Charles said. "We like to play new songs live so we can work on them, then when we go into the studio we have a good idea of what we want to do already. It helps keep our live show more entertaining, for us and for our fans."
While DWC devotees shouldn't expect a radical new direction musically, Charles does see a marked development as the band's songwriting progresses.
"I think it sounds more like us," she said. "I guess it's sounding more true to who we are, as we evolve as a band and mature. It's a more mature sound of Dead Winter Carpenters, not meaning that we're mature people, but that the sound of our music is representing more of a collaboration of the band as writers. Now that we've basically been touring together for the last two and a half, three, almost three years, I guess we're a more experienced band. That's not to say, not to put us up there with bands that have been on the road for 20 years, but we've had collaborative experiences together and we put that into our music."
"We eat together, we sleep together, we breathe together, we play music together, you know, we do all of it together," Charles said. "We really have that musical camaraderie in our band because we spend so much time together. I think you can feel that musically."
"It's still true, Dead Winter Carpenters," she added with a chuckle. "You never know what you're going to get."