Trampled by turtles performs in Vail Monday |

Trampled by turtles performs in Vail Monday

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

VAIL, Colorado ” Trampled by Turtles. It sounds like a tragic zoo accident or a demoralizing way for a marathon runner to die.

It’s actually the name of a Duluth, Minn., bluegrass band that says their moniker just kind of evolved.

“We were trying to come up with a name that would be better than being ‘The Lonesome Pine Valley Mountain Ridge River Steam Boys’ or something blue-grassy like that,” Mandolin player Erik Berry said.

The band’s name stops short of “blue-grassy,” and so does their sound. At times playing slow country tunes, the five-man string band also explodes into barn-burners that sound more like metal or punk.

“I sometimes go through one bow per show,” said fiddler Ryan Young, who plays so fast he shreds his bow to pieces. “It kind of depends on the humidity in the room.”

Those who go to see Trampled by Turtles at The Sandbar in Vail tonight should expect a band that can change the chemistry in a room.

Earlier this week, Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale had the subdued air of a poetry reading venue. A few 20-somethings lounged on lawn chair and couches, making small talk, and in one case, eating a granola bar.

But the mood shifted the instant the guys in Trampled by Turtles lumbered onto the stage. As soon as the five-some exploded into a song the settlers might have played after drinking a few Red Bulls, someone in the once-comatose crowd let out a “yeehoo!”

Never leaving their seats, the band ripped into their instruments with guitarist and lead singer Dave Simonett stomping his cowboy boot to the beat.

What happened during that set explains why critics have so much trouble labeling this band’s sound.

After pausing to take a few swigs out of a bottle of Jameson, Trampled by Turtles slowed to play a country lament that would make for a fitting soundtrack for drinking alone in a dive bar.

Just as the audience had adjusted to slow-dancing, the band crescendoed into a frantic din, sending the crowd into ecstatic gyrating.

Most of the members of Trampled by Turtles were in rock bands before teaming up five years ago in Duluth. The band first played at a homegrown festival, where they impressed a crowd of 350.

“Even in Duluth at 1 a.m., people like drunk hillbilly music,” Berry said.

Since those “drunk hillbilly music” days, Trampled by Turtles has come a long way. Over the past five years, they have played throughout the country, picked up the tempo and added a fiddle player.

The band’s fourth album, “Duluth,” is due out Oct. 28. It follows the 2007 release of “Trouble,” which sold about 5,000 copies.

Band members are proud of the fact that they stray from standard bluegrass.

“Everybody isn’t traditional,” Young said, noting the banjo player uses a pick and the bass player swears by a bass guitar instead of a standup bass fiddle. “Everybody does something different.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or

What: Trampled by Turtles with Stealin’ Strings

When: Monday, Oct. 20 at 9 p.m.

Where: Sandbar Sports Grill, West Vail

Cost: $8 in advance, $10 at the door

More information: Call the Sandbar at 970-476-4314

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