Advertisement

Subscribe
to the
Weekender

Advertisement

A hushed full house at The Mill for the Pines, Dead Man Winter

Posted by Daniel Boscaljon | Apr 20, 2017 | Arts & Entertainment

Dave Simonett performs with Dead Man Winter performs at The Mill. Wednesday, April 19, 2017. — photo by Zak Neumann.

The Mill was the perfect venue on April 19 for a Wednesday night of atmospheric delicacy, performed for a hushed full house. The Pines, local legends transplanted to Minnesota, framed the night with a sense of intimate delicacy. Their first songs, without percussion, allowed the audience to focus on the twining of harmonies and whispered vocals that generated a sense of intimacy. This was especially true of the haze created when the chords floated over the strummed strings of the guitar.

When J.T. Bates, drummer for Dead Man Winter, joined the band it added only a light background noise, more a gentle rain than something obtrusive. The Pines, as always, provided the integrity and fragility that I would associate with a spiderweb — something lovely and attuned to the spaces in which it is created.

The strongest part of Dead Man Winter’s set came when lead singer Dave Simonett allowed the band to clear the stage, giving space for the music to emerge from the combination of guitar, vocals and harmonica. The focus on this set showed the strength of his expression as a songwriter, and — as is true of Dylan and few others — the harmonica was used expertly to fill the absence of voice with tones of plaintive longing.

The band, both in their first set, and once they came back to the stage after Simonett’s solo performance, was strong but tended to dilute the power of the songs. They made things feel more generic than they should be, although the presence of the organ, foregrounded, adds something distinctive to the mix. Unlike the Pines, in which each member of the band seems wholly integral to the atmosphere of sound they create, the rest of Dead Man Winter felt somewhat unnecessary. It was as though the increased power and volume diluted the strength of the initial material, making the songs seem thinner, though louder.

The last songs of the set, played with the full band, showed why they are included: There was a brightness and ecstasy of spirit that betokened spring after winter. Perhaps it was having the Pines as an opening act, or the strength of Simonett’s singing alone, but this section ultimately felt less like a 70 degree February day — welcome, but unnecessary.


Add a comment

*Please complete all fields correctly

WHAT TO READ NEXT

Posted by genevieve-heinrich
Ion, of the Iowa City rap group the AWTHNTKTS, released a new video this week. “Roses,” like his previous video for “Love/Smokes,” was filmed in and around Iowa City, primarily...
Posted by rob-cline
The 10th season of Tales from the Writers’ Room kicks off, as it were, with 1st and 10, this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 22 and 23, at CSPS Hall. Performances,...
Posted by kent-williams
3Shares Fiddler’s Picnic Johnson County Fairgrounds — Sunday, Sept. 24 at 12 p.m. This coming Sunday, Sept. 24, at noon at the Iowa City 4H Fairgrounds, the Old Fiddler’s Picnic...

BUY HALF-PRICE GIFT CARDS