Review | Sam Bush Band with Dead Winter Carpenters | Truckee

Words by: Brennan Lagasse

Sam Bush Band with Dead Winter Carpenters :: 07.21.12 :: Donner Park :: Truckee, CA

What’s better than a summer evening of bluegrass music on a grassy field with perfect weather? Not much, but when the two bands playing include the legendary Sam Bush Band, with the soon to be legendary Dead Winter Carpenters as openers, this Sierra Nevada summer evening did in fact get better for all who were lucky enough to be in attendance.

Held at a seldom-used open-air venue in the Tahoe Donner area of Truckee, CA, Saturday’s festivities were nothing short of memorable summer evening. The venue hosted about 1,500 show goers all of whom were encouraged to bring their own supplies into the show. Picnickers of all ages showed up early to secure their space on the wide, comfortable grassy venue. As the sun slowly started to dip, local Tahoe bluegrass jam sensations the Dead Winter Carpenters (DWC) took the stage and offered a set that eventually had just about everyone in attendance shaking some form of their body in a groove.

Dead Winter Carpenters
The DWC’s were a fitting act to open for the “King of Newgrass”, as their style is most certainly influenced in the manner many popular newgrass acts such as Sam Bush and Yonder Mountain String Band are playing these days. They can kill you with a slow beautiful song like “Find Your Home”, and then get you all worked up to dance a storm with jams like “Cabin Fever” as they did on Saturday. The DWC’s have been touring vigorously in recent months and have been vastly growing in popularity as a result. Check out their new album, Ain’t It Strange, and try and catch them live as soon as you possibly can. You’ll be turning your friends on to them in no time as they are sure to keep their momentum going with such a remarkably beautiful energy on stage, and a fluidity in their playing that makes them on of the top “must see” new acts on the scene today. Their Saturday set was actually so good, several conversations were overheard during set break speaking to the hope that Sam and his band would somehow be able to top it.

While the DWC’s are clearly on fire these days, this was in fact the Sam Bush hour, and the man backed by his stellar band did not disappoint. If bluegrass is your thing then you already know how masterful Sam Bush is on both the mandolin and the fiddle, but the style and ease with which Sam and his band bounce back and forth between bluegrass tunes with a jazz, funk, country, rock, blues and even reggae influence is uncanny. It’s no wonder he’s regarded as one of the pioneers of the New Grass Revival, as he’s able to blend these seemingly diverse genres of music together in such a manner nearly impossible to replicate.

Sam Bush
On Saturday evening the crowd was treated to a host of delightful sounds starting off with “Memphis in the Meantime”, speaking to the rock, blues and country side of Sam’s music influences. Songs like “Circles Around Me Now” off the band’s most recent album were offered and appreciated by all in attendance, and Bush originals like “Banana’s” showed off a more jazzy, Latin feel.

Delving deeper into the newgrass quiver of influences, covers of Bob Marley‘s “One Love” and “Is This Love?” brought a soulful reggae beat to the evening, while a take on The Allman Brothers‘ “Whipping Post” was so rocking that you had to ask yourself if you were actually seeing a bluegrass band. Between newgrass takes on traditional bluegrass chestnuts all evening with a wide variety of amazingly played covers, the Sam Bush band left more than a positive mark on the Truckee crowd. Their lone encore, a respectful shout out to the recently passed Levon Helm, “Up On Cripple Creek” was a perfect way to send the crowd out in style. At the end of the show smiles were adorned by all with several locals asking not only when this venue would get used again, but even more commonly when they’re going to get to see another show as good as the one that just happened.

JamBase | Fun in the Grass
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