The men of Dead Man Winter took the stage Thursday night in suit jackets and smiles, delivering an enthusiastic and heartfelt performance at The Sinclair in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“I didn’t realise until I got here that I’d bought the wrong ticket,” said Billerica native Keith, one of the gig’s attendees. “I didn’t know that Trampled By Turtles had another project. But I’m here to check it out.”
Best known for his role as guitarist, singer and co-songwriter for the progressive bluegrass outfit Trampled By Turtles, Dave Simonett started Dead Man Winter in 2011 as a way to produce meatier songs of the electronic rock persuasion. Dead Man Winter still retains a little bit of that country feel with their organ sounds and twanging strings.
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The performance at The Sinclair is part of the band’s North American tour promoting their latest album, ‘Furnace’. It was released 27 January of this year under GNDWIRE Records. ‘Furnace’ marked a new approach for Simonett: it was his first time dedicating an entire album to a single subject. In this case, it was the dissolution of his 10-year marriage, and the impact on his children.
The pain and emotion of ‘Furnace’ was clear by the fourth song in Thursday’s lineup, ‘This House is On Fire,’ a ballad that truly makes you feel as though you’re having the last dance with the love of your life. The drawling guitar riffs partway through drew a stillness out of the audience; it was as if each person in the room was reliving their own heartbreaks at the words of Simonett’s.
“You can tell what [Simonett] is about in his music,” said Jennifer of Mansfield. “It’s captivating.”
The passionate, deliberate notes emanating from each instrument throughout the show were indeed captivating. Dead Man Winter had the unique ability to get everyone in the crowd moving, even the corner-dwellers. You had no choice but to put down your phone and let the music wash over, as they preached the gospel of drunken nights and lonely hearts.
Between songs, Simonett and the rest of Dead Man Winter kept the atmosphere lighthearted with some good old-fashioned self-deprecation, winning over any fellow musician or music lover in the audience with comments like, “This song is brand new to us… no, really, we learned it last night… kind of.”
The talent of the musicians shone through both their individual playing and the way they melded together on stage. Knowing looks and easy smiles were traded between the “dear friends,” as Simonett calls them. From the two-stepping guitarists to the myriad of facial expressions from the keyboardist, the love of both the music and one another was easily evident.
After the fifteen song set, Simonett sent the rest of Dead Man Winter off stage to play a solo acoustic version of a Trampled By Turtles’ favourite, ‘Midnight on the Interstate’. It was the perfect song to send the crowd out into the clear Boston night.
“Thanks for being here for us,” Simonett said to the crowd, and someone from the audience called back in reply:
“Keep it coming, man. Keep it coming.”