Meet the Dead Winter Carpenters

California roots-jam band plays Bend's Liquid Lounge

By David Jasper / The Bulletin

Published Oct 12, 2012 at 05:00AM

Fans of ye olde-time string music will have much to agree about when they hear the North Lake Tahoe, Calif., quintet Dead Winter Carpenters, playing Thursday at Liquid Lounge in Bend (see “If you go”).

We can all agree that they write, sing and pluck out some good, honest Americana tunes on their newest album, “ain't it strange,” released in May. But that doesn't mean the band's members all share the same — or even similar — music tastes and influences, said singer/guitarist Jesse Dunn.

“We're all over the map, which I think makes for a cool thing when we get together. Our musical influences are all over the board,” Dunn said. “Each member brings their own background influence.”

Dunn's include icons such as Neil Young and The Band, as well as newer Americana acts like Old Crow Medicine Show. But others' include everything from Charles Mingus to grunge to old-time country.

Which could lead to disputes when the band — which also includes Jenni Charles (fiddle/vocals), Sean Duerr (guitar/vocals), Dave Lockhart (upright bass) and Ryan Davis (drums) — is touring in support of, say, a new album.

“Absolutely,” Dunn said. “That's part of the fun of it, too. Whoever is driving at the time dictates what's playing on the radio. It changes with every leg of the journey.”

Dead Winter Carpenters formed after a fateful meeting 2 1/2 years ago at a Northern California music festival, and its core has been “puttering around ever since,” Dunn said. The band considers the Pacific Northwest its home market and has one national tour under its collective belt; it also just returned from a trip to the Midwest, and plans to return to the Northeast in November.

“We're out there road-dogging it,” Dunn said. Reaction to “ain't it strange” has been strong among fans, he added.

While he stops short of ever using the word “jam,” Dunn said that when Dead Winter Carpenters play live, their songs are, for the most part, similar to the album versions, though sometimes extended a bit with sections of improv thrown in here and there.

For those who haven't caught the band on one of their previous visits (they've played at McMenamins Old St. Francis School and the 4 Peaks Music Festival), he tidily sums up the Dead Winter sound: “I think we fall under the Americana umbrella, and what that means to us is a mix of rock 'n' roll, country, bluegrass and ragtime, primarily.

“We try to bring a high amount of energy to all of our shows and also try to feed off the energy that the audience brings, for a good night of dancing,” Dunn said.