Trampled by Turtles is no ordinary Bluegrass band. Take Palomino, their about-to-be-released fifth studio album and debut for Thirty Tigers Records, for instance.
Named for a particular coat coloring in horses, the album features a drawing of a barn owl on the cover. Turtles and horses and owls, oh my. But that’s just a hint at the crazy quilt world of Trampled by Turtles.
The Duluth, Minn., quintet coalesced seven years ago when vocalist/guitarist Dave Simonett and mandolinist Erik Berry started moonlighting as an acoustic duo outside of the confines of their local Rock outfits. In rapid succession, the pair was joined by banjoist Dave Carroll, bassist Tim Saxhaug and fiddler Ryan Young, and after everyone’s primary bands broke up, the fivesome turned their full time attention to Trampled by Turtles.
There’s more dichotomy in Trampled by Turtles than just their name.
Before the group assembled in 2003, none of them had ever played acoustic string instruments, which means they approach Bluegrass music from a Rock perspective with none of the standard benchmark influences guiding the group.
For the first five years, TxT self-released their work — four studio discs and a live album — and attracted a loyal and sizable fan base without the benefit of label support or significant radio play. TxT’s last self-released album, 2008’s Duluth, showed just how much the band had accomplished by rocketing into the Top 10 of Billboard’s Bluegrass Heatseekers chart, which thrust them into the national spotlight and garnered them a contract with Thirty Tigers.
Given the blazing pace and intense energy they apply to their work and the Rolling-Stones-tributes-Bill-Monroe ethic of Palomino, not to mention their previous Punk/Rock affiliations, Speedgrass might just be the most apt description for Trampled by Turtles.
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