As far as the Dead Winter Carpenters are concerned, May has been a quiet month. Of course, “quiet” is a relative term. For the Carpenters, it meant headlining a night at Las Vegas Jam Band Society’s Freako de Mayo music festival and playing the group’s first ever show at San Francisco’s famed Great American Music Hall.
The North Tahoe Americana-rock quintet is looking forward to another first this weekend: The group’s first-ever two-night appearance on home turf. Dead Winter Carpenters will play Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room Friday and Saturday nights.
“Leading up to these Crystal Bay shows, that kind of starts off the summer for us as it does for everyone else,” guitarist and singer Jesse Dunn told Lake Tahoe Action. “You start to get busy with festivals and traveling a bunch.”
This will be the Carpenter’s first summer with new band members Justin Kruger (drums) and Bryan Daines (guitar, vocals), who joined the band in December and January, respectively. Both are graduates of the music program at the University of Nevada, Reno.
“They’re just really great guys, really great musicians,” Dunn said. “I think they add a lot to our energy.”
Dunn, Kruger and Daines are joined by Jenni Charles (fiddle, vocals) and Dave Lockhart (upright bass, vocals).
The group took advantage of a chance to bond offstage last month, attending the Mountain of Strings festival at Squaw Valley April 28 after playing a pre-party with the Travelin’ McCourys at Crystal Bay Casino the night before.
“The pre-party was great,” Dunn said. “We ended up having Robbie McCoury, the banjo player from the Travelin’ McCourys, sit in with us for a tune, which was really an honor for us, and very inspiring to have him sit in. We saw Del, hanging out there too for the show. And then we all went up there for the Yonder (Mountain String Band) show on Sunday. It was a blast, the weather was perfect, great turnout.”
Dunn is excited for the future of the Mountain of Strings event, if somewhat skeptical about the chances of having “perfect” weather again.
“It’ll be interesting because I’m sure next year there will be a blizzard on that day,” the guitarist said.
For now, Dead Winter Carpenters has spring and summer on the mind. To that end, the band decided to add a little fanfare to this weekend’s concerts.
“We came up with themes for each night,” Dunn said. “Friday night, we’re calling it ‘Spring Formal,’ so any sort of formalwear that you’ve got tucked away in your closet. Then Saturday night, it’s our new guitar player Bryan’s birthday, so we’re calling it ‘Bryan’s Birthday Beach Bash Bonanza’ or something. Whatever you see fit to wear to the beach. That could go anywhere really.”
The band also invited two opening acts along for the fun.
“We have an opener each night, really good strong openers,” Dunn said. “Friday night is the California Honeydrops, they’re from the Bay Area, and then Saturday night, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister. I believe they’re from L.A.”
Outside of the Crystal Bay shows and the upcoming summer schedule, Dead Winter Carpenters are looking forward to recording their third album.
“We’re starting to talk to studios and producers and try to figure out which route we’re going to go and figure out timing too, so we’re keeping the ball rolling,” Dunn said.
While the band hasn’t settled on a time or location for recording yet, it has no shortage of new material to work with.
“We probably have almost a full album’s worth,” Dunn said. “We haven’t quite decided if we’re going to do an album or an EP.”
But Dead Winter Carpenters fans don’t need to wait for a record to hear the group’s new songs. The band will be rocking them at Crystal Bay this weekend.
Dunn mentioned “Long Arm of the Law” and “Bootleg Jack” as upbeat new songs the band has been enjoying playing live.
“Those are kind of ragtime, bluegrassy sort of singalong tunes,” he said.