Four bands from the shores of Lake Tahoe will make the drive to Placerville next week, joining dozens of jam and rock groups for the third annual Hangtown Halloween Ball.
Held at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds in Placerville, the Hangtown Halloween Ball draws thousands of music lovers for four days of live music and spooky celebrations. The festival begins Thursday evening, Oct. 24, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 27. Tickets range from one-day passes to four-day VIP packages, priced anywhere from $25 to $965.
This year, Tahoe’s Dead Winter Carpenters, Four Piece Puzzle, Mama’s Cooking and Peter Joseph Burt and the King Tide will join a lineup featuring national headliners like Railroad Earth, Galactic and Matisyahu. With the exception of Dead Winter Carpenters, this will be each band’s first appearance at Hangtown Halloween.
“We’ll have three stages this year,” event promoter Ryan Kronenberg said. “One act will end, another will start and then another. We stagger the show times for sure. A lot of the local and regional bands from Tahoe will be playing on what’s called the Gallows Stage.”
Mama’s Cookin’ serves it up
For Zebuel Early of Mama’s Cookin’, Hangtown Halloween provides the chance to bring the band’s sound in front of a festival crowd. Mama’s Cookin’ hails from North Lake Tahoe.
“It’s kind of a hybrid of soul music, rock ‘n’ roll, with a hip-hop backbeat or undertone,” the guitarist and singer said of Mama’s Cookin’, which relocated to Tahoe from Colorado in 2007.
Early is joined by Todd Holway (keys, vocals), Mike Adamo (drums) and Steve LaBella (bass). While he has attended the festival in the past, Early is looking forward both to playing the event and to listening to other acts.
“I’m looking forward to being on the other side of the stage,” Early said. “The lineup is amazing. Some of my favorite bands are playing, so I’m just stoked to be there.”
Peter Joseph BurtT and the King Tide
Early, Holway and Adamo will also appear with Peter Joseph Burtt as the King Tide, also from the North Shore.
“We’re thrilled. Other local bands would love to play there,” Burtt said. “We’re thrilled, and we’re ready too. We’ve been rehearsing seriously and we’re ready to do our thing.”
Burtt and the King Tide draw on soul, blues and R&B sensibilities, re-envisioned by Burt’s fascination with African instruments. The front man took two trips to Africa in the early ‘90s, studying the Zimbabwean embira and the Gambian kora.
“It’s crazy, Peter plays a kora, an instrument from Gambia, West Africa,” Early said. “It kind of has that instrumentation from Africa, but it’s really more of a soul band than anything else.”
Four Piece Puzzle
The only South Shore Band in the lineup, Four Piece Puzzle has developed its sound in and beyond Lake Tahoe for three years, guitarist Ryan Cassidy said. Cassidy is joined by Andy Hatch (saxophone), Chad Lawrence (keys, bass) and Martin Bush (drums, vocals).
While Cassidy and Hatch are Californians, Lawrence is from Louisiana and Bush hails from Florida, giving Four Piece Puzzle’s music a mix of regional flavors.
“The sound is like a heavy, funk-jazz-punk, kind of psychedelic soul. It’s kind of like the South meets that West Coast psychedelic sound,” Cassidy said.
Formed as an instrumental band, Four Piece Puzzle has been working to incorporate more vocals into their tunes in recent months, Cassidy said.
Dead Winter back for thirds
North Shore’s Dead Winter Carpenters have played the festival each year to date, part of an expanding lineup of bookings that has seen the band take the stage at High Sierra Music Festival, 4 Peaks Music Festival, Northwest String Summit and others in recent years.
The band includes Jesse Dunn (guitar, vocals), Bryan Daines (guitar, vocals), Jenni Charles (fiddle, vocals), Dave Lockhart (upright bass, vocals) and Justin Kruger (drums).
“It’s a real community vibe, an overall freaky good time,” Dunn said. “People getting together, dressing up, sharing music and sharing good times. This time of year it’s just a gorgeous time to be there.”
Dead Winter Carpenters has seen the festival grow in acts and attendance each year. Dunn expects 2013 to be the best yet.
“This year being the third year, it just keeps getting better and better,” he said. “If people come out, they won’t be disappointed.”