Trampled By Turtles

March 17, 2005

Trampled By Turtles: Blue Sky & The Devil

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Want some good folkin’ music? Feel like your whole life is folked? Well worry no more reader, you no longer have to folk yourself… Trampled By Turtles will do the folking for you!

TBT just released their sophomore album Blue Sky And The Devil, which highlights their live material fans have grown to love. It is a new world in 2005 and it might be time to give up the Grateful Dead LPs though!

Originally the blues were written to break down the social barriers set up and eventually through rock & roll finally knocked down. Civil Rights came and Bob Dylan wrote the lyrics that saved a generation. The Grateful Dead was an R&B biker band that played the score to the Acid Tests. The “Heads" were born and ruled the jam scene until a whisper in the East. Jerry Garcia passed and an era ended.

Phish grabbed the “Heads"… But there is a big difference between Phish and The Dead. Phish is Bluegrass influenced, while the Dead are influenced by R&B. The people into Phish have a similar exclusivity to the Dead but isn’t about acid. They don’t want to be famous, they just want true fans. Grateful Dead jams will soon be what jazz jams were to rock fans in the sixties. If you don’t like folk music, FOLK OFF!

See, music today doesn’t have to have anything important to say. Trampled By Turtles are not fighting for someone, they are not Dustbowl poet Woody Guthrie, Civil Rights troubadour Bob Dylan, or Acid Test Jerry Garcia. They are from a generation that is today.

Trampled By Turtles consists of four members: Dave Simonett (guitar, vocals and songwriter) Erik Berry (mandolin, guitar & vocals), Dave Carroll (banjo & vocals), and Tim Saxhaug (bass & vocals). Each person has very different musical influences and talents. From Punk and Phish to classics like The Stanley Brothers and Bill Monroe, it is strange how Trampled By Turtles came to be. Only Dave Carroll grew up in a family that played bluegrass music. Erik Berry’s mandolin is more high tech than most traditional bluegrassers 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.

This album has songs like “Burn For Free" teetering between moments of rock and moments of folk. “Codeine" is a nice ditty about pain reliever love. Dave sings, “Codeine, your the nicest thing I’ve ever seen - for awhile - You hold my hand as I step into the room - All these people will be fading soon." In “Blue Sky And The Devil" the song says, “I’m leaving Virginia back to where I belong - I can’t remember the last time I gone - There’s blue skies and women and liquor so strong - Angels and Devils to carry me on." They make the traditional theme of bluegrass encompass the lyrics as well.

“Dog On A Leash" is an instrumental jam, and the dog barks some serious folk in this one. “The One To Save" has a death wish at heaven’s door resting its aching bones. The lyrics say, “Put me in the water - put me in the grave - but no matter what you want from me - I ain’t no one to save." Another song that stood out was “Written on the wall". It had a serious tone and long instrumentals. There were moments when it sounded like the band was climbing the strings like the Appalachian Mountains that sprung bluegrass.

The songs all have the signature TBT sound. So if you want to get folked check out the Trampled By Turtles CD (available at the Electric Fetus or through the band’s website) and they are coming back to Duluth soon (next local show April 7 at Pizza Luce, opening for The Radiators). Only go if you are folked though!