Duluth Gets Trampled By Turtles!

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

There are many mysteries that surround the North Shore. From shipwrecks and legends to music stylings and gatherings there are always interesting stories floating around. One to add might be why the most popular band with young people in Duluth is an electric bluegrass band named Trampled By Turtles?

On Friday night Pizza Luce was packed with a rowdy college crowd surrounding the stage and dancing with fervor. It was interesting that the audience was so into folk/bluegrass music. If you plugged your ears and looked out you might think you were at a rock concert. Many crowded dancing patrons looked like they were about to start a mosh-pit with their enthusiasm.

I asked Erik Berry, mandolin/guitar of Trampled By Turtles about this love of their band. He joked that at one show a guy was stumbling around the front of the stage with a mohawk. When he confronted the punk rocker after the show about why he was swaying into the crowd he learned that it was not a mosh-pit he was trying to start, but a drunken stumble he was trying to end. Erik’s mandolin is more high tech than any bluegrass band might take control of, but the electric sound is mesmerizing. He originally got into bluegrass while working for the college radio station hosting a three-hour folk music show every Saturday for two summers.

Trampled By Turtles consists of four members with very separate influences and music talents. From Punk to Phish, it is strange how Trampled By Turtles came to be. Only Dave Carroll, Banjo, grew up in a family that played bluegrass music. The band’s influences are classics like The Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, and several other traditional bluegrassers. With a cover like Nirvana’s On A Plane TBT stretches the bluegrass genre and lights it up on stage.

The story goes that they were jamming out in a living room about a year and a half ago and it all just came together. Tim Saxhaug, bass and vocals commented that, "when we play we feel and react to the music, which ends up driving the tempo." Tim had played and continues to assist the Dukes of Hubbard which is an electric blues band. The Dukes are still around, but the crowds continue to grow for Trampled By Turtles.

Speaking to Dave Simonett, guitar, vocals and songwriter of Trampled By Turtles about the crowd phenomenon he said it had been building for some time. Even at Minneapolis clubs like The Cabooze, Uptown Bar and 5 Corners where Rock is a staple TBT is trampling the competition. The crowds in Duluth follow the band religiously to clubs and seek out this great band.

Trampled By Turtles manage themselves and have gained a reputation of playing fun and great folk/bluegrass music. They released a CD last year titled Songs From A Ghost Town and are headed back to the studio this winter to record a new CD. Both have the writing style of Dave Simonett who became a bluegrass fan while living in Duluth. Soon after they record they are headed out on tour to Iowa, Colorado, Kansas and several other locations. On December 10th is their big show at the Nor Shor, their first time in the Main Room. Ryan Van Dyke will be showing his art from 6 to 8 PM with music from the mezzanine. Trampled By Turtles takes the stage after great acts like Devil’s Flying Machine featuring Charlie Parr, and Accident Clearing House. Tickets are available at the Electric Fetus, Pizza Luce and other locations.

Trampled By Turtles is the premiere band of Duluth that is really taking off. These slow moving turtles are literally trampling other bands and growing a definite following. From Dred-locked hippies to vest and stocking cap groupies TBT is taking over the local music scene. It is only time before they are playing the DECC and moshing in a new era of American Folk Music!