Trampled By Turtles’ unspoken goal: ‘Let’s see how much bigger this can get’ |

Trampled By Turtles’ unspoken goal: ‘Let’s see how much bigger this can get’

Caramie Schnell
Published: No Published Caption
Pieter M. van Hattem | Special to the Daily |

If you go ...

Who: Trampled by Turtles. Opening band is Frogs Gone Fishin’.

Where: Solaris, Vail.

When: Saturday. Doors open at 5 p.m. Opening band starts at 5:30 p.m.; headliner goes on at 7 p.m.

Cost: Free.

More information: Visit

Based on the number of Trampled By Turtles fans in Colorado, one who isn’t super familiar with the group might assume the bluegrass-folk-rock band hails from the Rocky Mountains. They’ve played venues across the state over and over since getting together in 2003.

“We have more fans there now than pretty much anywhere else except for home,” said fiddle player Ryan Young.

Home is Duluth, Minnesota, where all the band members live except for banjo player Dave Carroll who lives in Steamboat Springs. Colorado’s large Trampled fanbase is likely thanks to touring decisions the band made early on, Young said.

“When Trampled first started touring, Colorado was the first place they visited, besides neighboring states like Wisconsin and North Dakota,” Young said. “We built that area up in Colorado and Montana first. At one point, our mandolin player had figured out that we’d played way more shows in Colorado than Wisconsin, and that’s right next door.”

Tonight the band adds another name to the list of Colorado shows when they play a free show at Solaris in Vail, part of Vail Mountain’s Spring Back to Vail closing weekend celebration. Feedback for the lineup — which includes a free show by the Greyboy Allstars on Sunday following Pond Skimming — has been “overwhelmingly positive,” said Jim Kellen, the marketing director for Vail Mountain.

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“The feedback I’m hearing from guests and locally in the community is that people are really excited,” Kellen said. “Personally, I like the diversity of going from Trampled By Turtles to Greyboy Allstars. We have a good variety with three distinct genres.”


Trampled By Turtles started as a side project for guitarist Dave Simonett and mandolin player Erik Berry in 2003. After a few shows as a duo, the rest of the band joined in waves. They added banjo player Dave Carroll, followed by bass player Tim Saxhaug; Young joined the band last, in 2006.

“One thing I’m good at is listening to what’s not there and adding it in. I filled in the gaps that needed filled in,” Young said.

The roster might expand again. For the last year, a cello player has accompanied the band, “filling up the sound even more,” Young said.

“He’s not a member of the band yet, but in the future he might be,” Young said.

Avon resident Karissa McNiven first saw the band play around five years ago at a small venue in Centennial, Wyoming, and has seen them perform a handful of times since. She calls their live shows “captivating.”

“It’s neat to see the growth in the amount of fans they’re able to draw,” she said. “That first show where I saw them there was like 40 people.”

The days of tiny theaters and small crowds are long in the rearview for the band, which sold out a show at Red Rocks Amphitheater last year.

“I didn’t expect that; I don’t think anyone did,” Young said.

The band reached No. 1 on the Billboard bluegrass charts twice consecutively, first with their album “Palomino” in 2010 and again with “Stars and Satellites” in 2012. Their latest album, “Wild Animals,” came out in 2014; it moves further away from a traditional bluegrass sound, which may be helping the band gain even more fans.

“I think their energy and the blend of bluegrass with newgrass brings a lot of younger audience members and draws them into bluegrass,” McNiven said. “I’m continuously impressed.”


While the band doesn’t sit down and pow wow about its goals, Young said the unspoken objective continues to be “keep growing.”

“We haven’t stopped playing bigger and bigger show and playing in front of more and more people so I guess the goal would be to maintain and see how much farther we can go,” Young said. “Let’s see how much bigger this can get.”

On stage, the band’s chemistry continues to be undeniable, which will likely help the band nail their target, spoken or not.

“From the earliest times we started playing, there has always been a real hard-to-define quality about our chemistry, something special,” said Berry, the mandolin player. “It’s been a treat to find that more than 10 years in we still can turn new corners, at least new-to-us corners, together in the way we approach a song or a sound and still with that quality. That’s something that makes us, us.”

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