Bruce Rits Gilbert

Song 71 - - Trampled By Turtles

Song 33 of this blog featured Dead Man Winter, which is kind of the side project for Dave Simonette. David Simonette is also the leader of Trampled By Turtles, which is a very successful new-school bluegrass group. Both Dead Man Winter and Trampled By Turtles are simply amazing. 

Last night, Trampled By Turtles was in Philadelphia. Wearing a Minnesota Twins baseball hat, David Simonette led the group in its brilliant 90 minute set. The venue, Union Transfer, was packed (virtually, if not actually, sold out). And the crowd was particularly enthusiastic. It was a great show, and, despite last night being game five of the Sixers - Celtics series, I just couldn't miss the opportunity to see Dave Simonette and Trampled By Turtles. (I did, though, keep half an eye on "Gamecast" of the Sixers game on my phone. Not cool, I know, but I did it anyway. And the concert ended just in time for me to see the Sixers blow the end of the game and lose the series. Meanwhile, Dave Simonette, a devout Twins fan, asked about the Phillies score several times during the show. I knew it, but he couldn't hear me so I didn't tell him.) 

So here are a few random thoughts and questions about Trampled By Turtles and the show last night:

First, when I got to Union Transfer and squeezed myself towards of the front of this "no seats" venue, all I saw were young folks. And by young folks, I mean "kids" in their 20s and 30s. Maybe a few in the crowd were older, but I was stunned at the age of the crowd. I mean, how do all these young people know about Trampled By Turtles? How did this band get so popular? And, how did all these young folks learn the words to so many of the songs? Yes, Trampled By Turtles gets some airtime on WXPN here in Philadelphia, but not a tremendous amount. And I just can't imagine that they get radio play anywhere else in town. But, sure enough, young folks are all over this amazing band. I'm sure that there's an explanation, but I'm just out of the loop. 

Second, although I was not all that far from the stage, standing pretty much directly in the center, it was hard to see the band. Why? Because of the bizarre lighting that was used. The lights mostly, or maybe entirely, came from the back of the band. So the lights were often shining on back of the band and in the eyes of the audience. So, for the most part, I saw a shadowy group of six very talented musicians. What was up with that? Is this the new trend in lighting? Or is this how the band likes it? Or is this a Union Transfer thing? In any event, I found it somewhat disconcerting. I mean, I could hear pretty well (more on that below), but it was just hard to see the amazing fiddle player, banjo player, mandolinist, acoustic bass player, cellist and lead singer do their thing. If anyone from Trampled By Turtles reads this, consider a different lighting plan. Okay? 

Third, although the show was great, the sound system wasn't all that great, either. The sound was fuzzy at times. Maybe I was too close to the stage. I'm not sure. But the brillance of the musicians wasn't as clear as it should be, especially for bluegrass music. 

But the main point is that Trampled By Turtles is one of my most favorite bands right now. And they have a new album, called Life is Good on the Open Road, which dropped just two days ago. It's great. XPN, as they usually tend to do, is just playing one song, in this case The Middle, on the radio. It's a good song, but there are lots of good songs on the album. So let's feature this one: Right Back Where We Started. Not only will you hear a great song, but, in this very recent recording from just last Saturday night in St. Paul, Minnesota, you'll see the type of lighting that was used last night at Union Transfer (which kinda confirms that it's a Trampled By Turtles lighting plan). 

And, as a bonus, here's Tramples By Turtles doing Whiskey, one of my favorite songs. It's a nine year old recording, but the lighting is a little better so you can actually see the band. 

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