by Robert Bell
TRAMPLED BY TURTLES.
10 p.m. Juanita's. $12.
Bluegrass fans have always placed a premium on instrumental virtuosity. Whether they favor old-fangled traditionalists or newgrass hippies, playing at lightning speed has always seemed — to the outside observer, at least — to be one of the necessary components. By that standard, Minnesota quintet Trampled By Turtles more than measures up.
"It's a War" from the band's 2010 disc "Palomino" blisters by and begs the question: Other than its instrumentation, what really differentiates this from a hardcore song? But it's not all warp-speed antics, and the band displays an understanding of nuance on other cuts.
Trampled by Turtles (or TxT for short) is no stranger to mixing it up in terms of cover material. Right now there's a string-band version of the classic Pixies tune "Where is my Mind?" on the band's website. And in addition to the foundational bluegrass influences, the band name-checks acts such as The Band, Bill Callahan and Townes Van Zandt. (Aside: is there anyone making music right now who doesn't cite Van Zandt as an influence? Don't get me wrong, "Live at the Old Quarter" is a desert-island pick for sure, but dang it seems like everyone in the world got hip to ol' Townes in the last five years or so.)
Anyways, if you dig prog 'grass-ive (sorry, couldn't help it) acts such as Yonder Mountain String Band, Old Crow Medicine Show and the like and you haven't already checked out TxT, don't pass up this show.