On August 19th at the Fox Theater in Boulder, CO, Dave Simonett, Erik Kokinen, and some of their friends from Trampled by Turtles gave us an early taste of their new project, Dead Man Winter. Having been a huge Trampled by Turtles fan for the last couple years, I was quite anxious to finally catch a peak at this new indie/folk/rock project with such bluegrass prodigies. Turns out I got two delightful surprises out of the night. Erik Koskinen opened up with an act that essentially built up to the whole cast of Dead Man Winter playing with him. It was intriguing to hear Erik’s flavor of folk/country/rock songwriting at the opening of the concert, only to be juxtaposed and blended with Dave Simonett’s (singer/guitarist/songwriter for Trampled by Turtles) style throughout the Dead Man Winter set.
For those fans expecting the speed-grass style of TBT to be a prominent feature of Dead Man Winter, you might be a little disappointed. In DMW, one may clearly hear Dave Simonett’s unique and beautiful songwriting in a much more folk/rock/indie genre, sans the bluegrass. The ensemble still includes Ryan Young’s (of TBT) energetic fiddle work, using it less prominently, and even featuring him on electric guitar at times. This left the group a much more electrified and guitar heavy group than I expected, but not in a bad way at all; I still found myself rocking out all night.
While the show was mostly original material from their debut album Bright Lights, they still found time to slip in some Trampled by Turtles favorites from their recent album Palamino like “Victory”, “New Orleans”, and “Bloodshot Eyes”. Overall, this project really lets the songwriting of Dave Simonett and Erik Koskinen shine through, focusing a little less on instrumental speed and virtuosity than TBT, allowing Dead Man Winter to really stand on its own as a unique musical ensemble and project.