The Blackberry Bushes and Dead Winter Carpenters from California perform an all ages show Fri, Mar 30 at Olympia Ballroom 116 Legion Way SE Olympia, WA | 9:00pm | www.olympiaballroom.
I got the chance to ask Dead Winter Carpenters some questions and the whole band took turns answering them – Jenni Charles (fiddle/vocals), Jesse Dunn (guitar/vocals), Sean Duerr (guitar/vocals), Dave Lockhart (upright bass), and Ryan Davis (drums).
OPAL: Tell me about the origins of the band’s name? Do you see the band as a cross between Dead Weather and the Carpenters?
Jesse: When we were forming the band, we came across a legend that recounted a tale of a crew of carpenters long ago along the Sierra Crest who were found frozen after they went missing for several years. They were working on a railroad trestle or another high altitude civic project, where they came to rest at their storied fate. Now that you mention it, our music could be a cross between the Dead Weather and the Carpenters, roots folk-infused rock n’ roll.
OPAL: What music has influenced your direction?
Jesse – Neil Young, Strangefolk, Grisman and Garcia, Pearl Jam
Sean – Jerry Garcia, Townes Van Zandt, Tony Rice, Phish, Nirvana
Dave – Nirvana, J.S. Bach, Charles Mingus, Old Crow Medicine Show.
Ryan-tool, flogging molly, dave matthews band
Jenni- Alison Krauss, Beck, Any music we’ve listened to has influenced us!
OPAL: And now for a little background – how did you all hook-up?
Jesse: The band members all met through some mutual friends at a music festival in the hills of Northern California in the summer of 2009. Many good times ensued, and several informal gigs later, Dead Winter Carpenters was formed.
OPAL: Who is in Dead Winter Carpenters and tell us a little about each members biography? What instruments does each member play, vocals etc. Other bands and solo projects that members have played in?
Jesse: I started playing the trumpet in 5th grade, and played for about 5 years. Subsequently, I picked up the acoustic guitar at age 15 and learned a few chords, and started playing Nirvana and Neil Young tunes, as well as my own little ditties. Before Dead Winter Carpenters, I played in a bluegrassy string band based in San Francisco called Montana Slim String Band from 2006 – 2010.
Sean: I started playing sax when I was 9. I played through high school, and ended up playing in a couple of friends’ bands casually. I played guitar with a lot of people in college at house parties or just casually in jams. When I got to California I met Jesse and formed Montana Slim String Band out of San Francisco, which was my first experience with a full time touring band.
Dave: I also joined Montana Slim String Band after they had been together for a few years. Prior to that, I played in the Skinny String Band and a Latin/reggae band called Manicato, as well as several jazz outfits like the Du Uy Quintet. Before that, I played with a singer/songwriter named Katie Garibaldi, a jam band called The Flux, and a shoegaze band called Bethany Curve. When we’re not on tour, I play with a tango/choro/gypsy jazz band called Trio Zincalo.
Jenni: I started playing the violin at the age of 5. My first true performances were with my family band, playing for Bread and Roses (a non-profit out of San Francisco started by Mimi Farina, Joan Baez’s sister, bringing music primarily to convalescent homes, hospitals and prisons). In the family band we played mostly old-timey and old country music. I never stopped performing/playing with various bands throughout my life and before joining up with Dead Winter Carpenters, my most recent projects were with my brother’s reggae band, Truckee Tribe, a fiddle/guitar duo with my dad, playing mostly old folk tunes and his original music and a non-traditional bluegrass band, The Rusty Strings.
Ryan: I played in school band since the age of 10. I played with Matt Axton (son of Hoyt Axton), The Warsaw Poland Bros, Truckee Tribe (with Jenni), Down In Red, and The ScareCrow Project, a solo alt. rock project.
OPAL: How did you get into music in the first place?
Jesse: My parents had an extensive collection of cassette tapes when I was growing up, ranging from the Band to J.J. Cale to Canned Heat, and hundreds of other artists. I would sit around for hours with the headphones on in front of the woodstove and get hooked on the grooves and the melodies. From there, my first actual instrumental experience began in middle school.
Sean: My Dad was an avid music fan. He would always have music on the stereo… things like The Grateful Dead, Bob Marley, Little Feat, Hendrix… I grew up loving 60s and 70s rock. I played in concert and Jazz bands on baritone sax through school, but I always wanted to play guitar so I could sound like the bands that I grew up listening to.
Dave: My Mom’s Dad was a Dixieland clarinet player and I grew up listening to him play, and my mom sang in an a cappella women’s choir, and my sister played in the high school marching band and when it came time to pick an elective in 5th grade, the string teacher played the Jaws theme on his bass, and I thought that was so cool so I signed up for his class. I signed up for viola, though. Then when I was 13, my sister gave me Nirvana’s Unplugged album the same year that my mom gave me an acoustic guitar for Christmas. But I finally came to the bass 5 years later when my high school music teacher asked me to play bass for School House Rock because she knew that I knew how to play guitar and read music. After that I went and studied classical and jazz bass playing in college.
Jenni: My parents influenced me to play and perform at a young age. They always provided the opportunity for me to join them on stage at their shows. I lived for those moments back then and I still do today!
OPAL: What was the first record that you purchased?
Jesse: I had a couple records in my collection before my first purchase, but I believe my first album that I actually bought was either the Blind Melon self-titled release or Ten by PearlJam.
The first tapes I had were Dr. Dre’s the Chronic, Run DMC, and a bunch of bootleg live Grateful Dead Tapes. I used to take hours to make mixed tapes off of the radio too. I think the first time I bought an album it was Doggystyle by snoop dog (the edited version of course) … most of the music I owned was dubbed tapes from friends and the radio.
Dave: The first record I bought was of Handel’s First Concerto Grosso because I was studying it in school. After that, I bought the Weird Al record that had Amish Paradise and then I bought The Presidents of the United States of America’s first album and the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.
Jenni: I listened mostly to my brother’s records (consisting mostly of Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam), so the first album I bought was something he wasn’t to keen on listening to 24/7, which was Debbie Gibson’s “Electric Youth”
OPAL: What music other than your own are you currently liking?
Jesse: Blitzen Trapper, Hank Williams, The Morning Benders
Sean: the Raconteurs, The Wood Brothers, Ween
Dave: Tin Hat Trio, The Mars Volta, Gillian Welch
Jenni: Gillian Welch, Fruition, The Band Perry
Ryan: Brand New, Coheed and Cambria, Chevelle
OPAL: Will this be your first time in Olympia?
Jesse: This will be our first time playing in Olympia. We’ve played in Seattle several times and have built up a solid collection of friends and fans in the area. We’re excited to get to Olympia and play with our friends The Blackberry Bushes. It’s going to be a fun night!
OPAL: What is the band’s discography?
Jesse: We released our debut album “D.W.C.” in August of 2010. Our second album “ain’t it strange” is currently being pressed and will be ready to go in April.
OPAL: Have you been writing new songs on tour?
Jesse: We just finished recording our newest batch of tunes for our new album “ain’t it strange.” Some of the themes include the tribulations of constant touring, being on the road, love lost, whiskey-fueled nights, and murder ballads.
OPAL: Did you have any great adventures on tour? Or do you perhaps have a great story about someplace you visited recently?
Sean: We get a new story out of every place we play really… That’s where a lot of our song writing material comes from. Tour is kind of like a constant adventure. It could be your 10th time in a particular town, but we always seem to see new things and meet new people, and do different things. It’s a pretty cool existence, it really keeps you on your toes. My favorite missions are when we have off for a day or two and we can do things like camp in Yellowstone, or see different things in places like Arizona or Montana, or other places that I haven’t had a chance to go and explore on my own.
OPAL: Tell me about all of your future plans?
We do have our new album “ain’t it strange” coming out late spring. We had a great experience at Prairie Sun Recording Studio in Cotati, and are all really excited about how it’s turning out. We’re anxious to get it into people’s hands.
Other than that, we’re still touring heavily. We’ve been touring the west half of the country pretty heavily in the past year. Now we’re looking forward to getting to the midwest, east coast, and the south. We’re all from different areas of the country, so it’s nice to be able to go play in our hometown and see family that we haven’t seen in a while.
OPAL: What other cool things are going on in the Dead Winter Carpenters world?
Dave: We just bought a sweet shuttle bus that we’re very excited about. It has a closet in the back just large enough to pack all of our gear into, wall-to-wall, floor to ceiling. We also took out a bunch of seats and built some bunk beds in the back and Jenni made some curtains.
More info at www.deadwintercarpenters.com