Punk/Folk Fusion, Alternative Country, Bluegrass – whatever genre you feel like classifying these guys as – Trampled by Turtles is a unique quintet that sure knows how to entertain a crowd. These guys played Outside Lands, Bonnaroo, ACL, Sasquatch, AND Lollapalooza this year (yep, all the biggies), so we figured it was about time to see them in their natural environment. To start, the venue definitely helped to set the tone of the show. The Sons of Hermann Hall is, by all accounts, a Dallas institution. In fact, this year the hall celebrated its 100 year anniversary. It might be an old-timey dance hall, but its perfect for a crowd that wants sip a little ripple and get rowdy. Rabbits made it out to this landmark to find out for ourselves just where punk and bluegrass collide. Check it out for yourself after the jump…
Let’s start with the venue. It has a more old-fashioned charm but is great for indoor shows with a smaller crowd. This building is a hundred years old, and home to the Sons of Hermann, a local fraternal order, and is also registered as a Texas historical site and a historic German heritage location. Upon entering, you’ll see a cozy, older bar on the right, more of a tavern really, with decently priced drinks, shuffleboard and pool. If, however, you continue down the hall and go up the double staircase in the back, you’ll come to the actual venue. An old fashion dance hall, the second floor is complete with a small bar in the corner, opposite the bandstand, and sports high ceilings and wooden floors that make for damn good acoustics. The Hall apparently still hosts weekly swing dances. The only complaint is the equally old-fashioned ventilation and air-conditioning, so wear something that breathes. This is a great venue for folk and rock bands, especially those that want to get a little bit rowdier, and was therefore perfect for Honeyhoney and Trampled By Turtles. If you make it out to the Lonestar State, it’s a venue worth dustying up your boots at (in the parlance of the region).
Opening band Honeyhoney was fantastic. Here is a group that is doing country and rock n’ roll in a way that many are trying, but few other than them are succeeding at. A duo from Nashville and L.A., lead singer Suzanne Santo brings an impressive set of pipes, evoking a young Bonnie Rait, backed up with even more impressive talent on the fiddle or banjo. Guitarist/vocalist Ben Jaffe plays a mean riff or keeps a calm, folksy blues demeanor equally well. It should also be noted that the bassist and drummer they’re currently touring with keep it all tied together very well, producing a polished performance. The onstage chemistry and presence of this band cannot be stressed enough. Aside from the great show, there’s also their merch table and its unexpected and not unappreciated variety, as few bands are carrying vinyls and skivvies in addition to your more standard fair of stickers and CDs.
On to the beef, as they say in Texas (ok, I need to stop with my colloquialisms). Trampled By Turtles is a quintet from Duluth, Minnesota, consisting of Dave Simonett (guitar, lead vocals, harmonica), Tim Saxhaug (bass), Dave Carroll (banjo), Erik Berry (mandolin), Ryan Young (fiddle). According to the band itself, this group was started as a side project from the members’ other rock and punk bands in which they wanted to try solely string instrumental music. Within a year this was the only band for it’s various members. While it may sound like the origin story of one, this is not your run-of-the mill punk/folk fusion band. As someone who grew up in deep in Appalachia, this writer can’t help but think this band presents itself as a very, very talented blue grass quintet with a few mainstream influences. That isn’t to say that they’ve lost touch with their more hardcore roots. I mean, you could easily mosh your heart out to the fast, frenetic energy of this bands’ music. In fact, this happened during the encore. While every member of the band exudes talent in their performance, the show was stolen a number of times by mandolin player Erik Berry and Ryan Young on fiddle, whose almost unnaturally fast solos were one of the highlights of the show. This writer’s only complaint is that they didn’t play enough of their covers. While it’s understandable that this band would only want to play their original stuff, as they have a lot of it, they are one of the select few that arguably play better covers than the original performers from time to time, which is why I would not have minded hearing one or two more. The tour has just about wound down, but if you absolutely need to hear them, their latest album, Stars and Satellites, is quality stuff if you haven’t already heard it.
Check out the video for “Alone” off Stars and Satellites here:
Check out the video for “Wait So Long” here:
Article written by Lanny Begley.
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