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Trampled By Turtles

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sitting on the shores Lake Superior, Duluth, Minnesota would likely be far from the first place that comes to mind to look for a hard-picking bluegrass band. Yet that’s where Trampled By Turtles call home. Sure it’s only an hour and half drive from where a young Bob Dylan grew up, but on a whole the Land of 10,000 Lakes is better known for exporting the likes of Prince, The Replacements and Husker Du than it is for its folk traditions and bluegrass bands. That’s why Trampled By Turtles take on the genre at times seems like a far cry from that of its patriarchs – Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs and the Stanley Brothers. It’s got a harder edge, and immediate sense of urgency. This isn’t bluegrass from the rolling hills of Kentucky, this is bluegrass from a region that is buried in snow and sub-zero temperatures for long stretches of the year and you hear it in their music.

The origins of Trampled By Turtles date back to 2003, when after most of his gear was stolen while playing a gig, lead singer Dave Simonett decided to put together a band that could play live with little or no amplification, drawing inspiration from the acoustic traditions of folk and bluegrass music. With a background in rock, Simonett’s newly recruited band mates were also relative newcomers to the genre, with a fiddle player who logged time as a drummer in a speed metal band and a bassist who came from the jamband world. All those factors helped Trampled By Turtles find their own take on bluegrass that they have fine-tuned over the course of nearly a decade.

Trampled By Turtles play bluegrass music with both reckless abandon and heartfelt plaintiveness, featuring breakneck speed picking and emotionally wrought ballads that will be hard to tear yourself away from come this summer at the Fort.

– Jeffrey Greenblatt

      JamBase, Contributing Editor