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Trampled by Turtles merge musical personalities

Paradise, Boston, April 18, 2012

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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Trampled by Turtles have earned their fan base the old-fashioned way - through heavy touring. That's why the Duluth, Minn.-based often raucous bluegrass-based quintet was greeted by a sold-out crowd, one that they deserved.

TBT (there may not be a better name out there when you consider the implications of the moniker) came into town behind the ultra new "Stars and Satellites," the successor to 2010's "Palomino," which put the quintet on the musical map.

The new music both on disc and live was far different than "Palomino." TBT's sound heretofore was tattooed by a fast pace, often generated by the banjo of Dave Carroll, mandolin of Erik Berry and fiddle of big and burley Ryan Young. Think Avett Brothers as a reference point. The hyper speed effect was evident often on this night and easily got the crowd going.

But the new music had a far softer, more plaintive quality to it. Young's fiddle sometimes sounded sad and mournful, forcing the crowd to listen instead of dance about as happened at many other junctures.

And starting the night off with the lead song from "Stars and Satellites," Midnight on the Innerstate, showed these Turtles were up to the task of weaving a different style into their core sound. The band - there's also Tim Saxhaug on bass and Dave Simonett on lead vocals and acoustic - proved adept at warming up to what was required.

Simonett handled all leads, often backed by Saxhaug and Carroll, giving the songs a bit more depth.

About the only ingredient was a more dynamic leader. Simonett sings fine, but he often was a tad too laid back. He picked up the effusiveness towards the end of the 90-minute show, slamming it home in the regular set with Walt Whitman, Separate and Wait. The three-pack made for a strong close to what this band is about.

Trampled by Turtles showcased different parts of what makes them tick. Fast and rough or soft and subdued, TBT deftly combined their two musical personalities.

These United States made a favorable impression in their opening stint. Lead singer Jesse Elliott was strong and clear in delivering the goods, which veered between rock with country, alt.-country sounds thrown into the mix. A few of the Turtles joined in near the end of their set, a lively affair.