Dead Man Winter at Turf Club, 3/3/2011

deadmanwinter-cohen.jpg
Photo by Steve Cohen
Dead Man Winter at First Avenue Monday night
Dead Man Winter
March 3, 2011
Turf Club, St. Paul

It would seem that Dead Man Winter is hovering on the edge of a wildly successful career. The newish band played at Turf last night, and while there was plenty of room, the club was still all a-buzz with a comfortable kind of energy that continued to improve upon itself as the night wore on.

Trampled By Turtles frontman Dave Simonett is taking the opportunity to get a little electric with Dead Man Winter, and he has brought other Trampled By Turtles members, bassist Tim Saxhaug and fiddler Ryan Young, along with Erik Koskinen on guitar and Noah Levy on drums, to help him accomplish a sound that hearkens back to the Band. That was especially apparent halfway through the set, when Dead Man Winter played a rollicking cover of "Makes No Difference" to the utter delight of the crowd.

For their part, Dead Man Winter control the stage unassumingly, the way good country musicians do. They played through a solid 90 minutes with a pleasure that drew new bodies to the front of the stage with every song. Every new tune in itself was easily a win, as Koskinen switched back and forth from guitar to slide guitar and Young had enough searing fiddle solos to get even the usually reserved Minnesota audience to do more than just tap their feet. Indeed, by the end of the set, the space in front of the stage was full with people who had moved closer on their own accord, and who were dancing -- actually dancing, and moving with their whole bodies. Who knew?

As their set drew to a close, Simonett thanked everyone for coming out and discussed future plans for Dead Man Winter.

"So I think we finally recorded an album," he smiled to the audience. "It's gonna come out this summer, but before we do that, we're gonna do Tuesdays here in May..." At the mention of a month-long residency at the Turf, the whole venue erupted in cheers.

This residency, smartly coinciding with the band's debut album, will certainly prep Dead Man Winter for the skyrocketing sort of popularity that they deserve. Not that it wouldn't happen otherwise. Dead Man Winter had hardly finished playing their last song before the crowd was rowdily clamoring for an encore, demanding: "One more song! One more song!" If the band can inspire that sort of devoted conviction already, we'll see what another month of building up a new fan base will do for them.

Critic's Bias: I grew up on the Allman Brothers, the Band, et al. I will always be a country girl at heart, damn the heels and the skirt.
The Crowd: Suddenly country girls and boys, too.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Oh my God, they're covering the Band! What? Fuck yeah!" said some very excited new fan next to me.
Random Notebook Dump: Not to go unmentioned is newcomer Frankie Lee, who opened up the night. Lee has a sound that just bleeds old-fashioned country done up in a way that breaks your heart for the truth of it. He doesn't have anything released yet. He doesn't have any gigs coming up. But he will, soon enough, and you'll be sure to look for him. In the meantime, you can catch him playing with Molly Maher now and again, on Wednesday nights at Nye's.

Set list:
Disaster
Golden
Wasteland
Long, Cold Night
House of Glory
New Orleans
Nicotine
Makes No Difference
Industrial
Cry For Help
Breakin' Me Down
Trouble
Get Low
Victory
Where In The World
Tell Me Mama

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