Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
rampled by Turtles must be doing something right. They seem to sleep wherever the tour van lands, and the crowds are getting bigger and bigger and more enthusiastic.
That's what seems to be happening in the internet age when the young crowd relies on friends to learn who's got the buzz.
More importantly, when bands such as Mumford and Sons and The Avett Brothers hold more and more sway, it's easier for bands like TBT from Duluth, Minn. to gain a foothold. Either of those two bands would be a good jumping off point to explain Trampled by Turtles (is there a better name out there?), who are bluegrass based, but go into overdrive with their sound.
It's all acoustic - Dave Simonett on vocals and acoustic guitar; Tim Saxhaug on bass, Dave Carroll on banjo, Erik Berry on mandolin and Ryan Young on fiddle - except for bass.
The underpinnings of the music were courtesy of Berry and Young, who time and again added just the right touch to the songs, propelling them into higher gear. Carroll wasn't far behind at all (which is not a backhanded slap at Saxhaug or Simonett - their instruments just weren't quite as prominent).
TBT proved most successful - at least in engaging the crowd - when they went the faster route. The sound is not as raucous as The Avetts, but it bears a similarity. With their "Palomino" disc now more than 1 ½ years old, but still high on the Billboard bluegrass charts, TBT introduced a few new songs into the mix, although they played everything from "Palomino" except Gasoline.
Simonett was fortunate that the crowd was easily won over by the playing and singing because he wasn't the most effusive, charismatic front man out there. And for all the joy that music brings, how about cracking a smile at least a little bit? Okay, these are small complaints on a night filled with energetic music from start to finish. Trampled by Turtles are doing a lot right.
TBT friend Jonny Corndawg opened with a winning 50-minute set. Chances are few in the crowd knew much of the Virginia native's songs, but that didn't seem to matter. He tended to shoot for more of a traditional country sound, and truth be told, he's stronger live than his new "Down on the Bikini Line" CD might indicate.
Corndawg displayed a chunk of confidence - that's a good thing - with Josh Hedley spicing the songs again and again on fiddle. Among them were the children's song Life of a Beer to the adult flavored Silver Panty Liners. Corndawg had a definite jokey quality about him, but, for now, at least he proved entertaining.