The best bands don’t begin as business ventures. They begin as groups of friends who get together to play a little music, and end up melding so well there’s no other choice but to start playing that music for others. Similarly, their success is organic, almost accidental. Even they may not know know it all happened exactly.
Trampled by Turtles
Corporate country has figured out a way to weasel its same command and control structure strangling commercial radio into online playlists and leave many of the best and the brightest of country on the wayside. But Saving Country Music is doing its level best to even the playing field by offering a healthy alternative.
There will be more music from the dynamic and much-loved string band Trampled By Turtles, which is music to the ears of their fervent fan base in Minnesota and beyond. Trampled by Turtles reunited at a cabin in Minnesota in the fall of 2017 to see what would happen, and if the time was right to move forward with the project.
I don’t blame Dave Simonett for wanting to take some time away from what has been his main gig for 15 years as the frontman of the bluegrass-esque Trampled By Turtles. As stellar of a collective of musicians as Trampled By Turtles is, at some point the experience of a string band is going to feel limiting to someone who is a songwriter first.
Maybe you came for the speed, but you stayed for the songs. It’s hard to believe that the bluegrass-esque band from Duluth, MN has been around for going on 14 years, but in that time Trampled By Turtles amassed a strong fan base in Minnesota and beyond, and released eight records, including their latest ‘Wild Animals’ from 2014.
Trust me when I say if you go ambling through American college towns, you won’t find anything resembling a dearth of string bands with a bunch of young men and their banjos and fiddles stomping and shouting on stage. What you will find a dearth of are these bands that are actually worth listening to, at least outside of the context of a drunken college town barroom.
.357 String Band, Bill Monroe, Dinosaur Truckers, Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Jason Isbell, Larry & His Flask, Review, Robert Ellis, Scott H. Biram, Th' Legendary Shack Shakers, The Punch Brothers, The Stanley Brothers, Trampled by Turtles, Whiskey Shivers
Distribution and publishing company Thirty Tigers has signed critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter Hayes Carll to work on a new album this fall, with hopes for an early 2015 release. Carll is now considered one of the mainstays of country/Americana touring channels, playing an average of 200 shows a year.
I actually come from the camp that believes that if Mumford & Sons weren’t so popular, more core roots fans would respect them. But it is really hip to hate and undervalue Mumford right now. Let’s hope that the current backlash doesn’t hurt every band with a banjo, because there’s many great string bands out there that and mix high energy and heartfelt songs into the string band concept.
Avett Brothers, Buddy Miller, Chris Fuqua, Darius Rucker, Devil Makes Three, Dirty River Boys, Foghorn Stringband, Hackensaw Boys, Jayke Orvis, Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band, Ketch Secor, Larry & His Flask, MOdest Mouse, Mumford & Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show, Split Lip Rayfield, Tom Peloso, Trampled by Turtles
Many of the bold changes in the direction of popular music begin with artists that are too fey, too polarizing to become popular themselves. So it takes others who understand how to soften music with sensibilities to make it accessible to the masses, and hopefully, if time is on their side, transect the popularity timeline, resulting in superstardom.
.357 String Band, Bill Monroe, Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, Flatt & Scruggs, Foghorn Stringband, Goddamn Gallows, Jimmy Martin, Ketch Secor, Larry & His Flask, Marcus Mumford, Mumford & Sons, O Brother Where Art Thou, Old Crow Medicine Show, Ralph Stanley, Split Lip Rayfield, The Avett Brothers, The Civil Wars, The Devil Makes Three, The Hackensaw Boys, Trampled by Turtles, Wayne Hancock
Whether it’s folk, bluegrass, country, or Cajun, Foghorn can play a breakdown, a Celtic jig, a Cajun waltz, and cut a rug to an early country tune in the span of as many songs and sell you quickly on the idea that you don’t need amplification or new school modes to make music that is both memorable and entertaining. Outshine the Sun is an excellent album, and where it makes its mark is in the positivity of its message.
the loss of .357 String Band may go down as underground country’s greatest tragedy. I can think of no other project that was so ripe for becoming a success story of authentic American underground roots. They were brilliant, but accessible at the same time. It is a great sin of American music. They have re-issued their landmark 2008 album “Fire & Hail” on vinyl.
By all accounts, I should hate these dudes, and this album by proxy. t was announced that Babel was the best-selling debut so far in 2012, selling 600,000 copies and outpacing folks like Justin Bieber. Really? Has the “roots” revolution reached such a point that it is the most popular, mainstream thing going in music these days? How am I supposed to be okay with that, and where is this leading?
A few days ago, CMT launched a new format and website called CMT Edge with the intent of covering artists outside the norm of mainstream country music. Since then I’ve been asked many times what I think of it, and my stock answer has been that I don’t exactly know what I think of it yet. Having said that, I see no reason at this point not to stay positive about it.
Trampled by Turtles have flat out blown up on our asses, debuting videos on CMT and selling out theater shows, while still being true to their original approach. That’s what happens when you have good guys putting out great songs and great albums and developing a sound that is familiar enough that it’s easy to get comfortable and acquainted with.
From the outside looking in, one may look at the lineup of The Muddy Roots Festival for example, and wonder how all these bands could all be booked right beside each other and it work seamlessly. This illustrates the dramatic sonic and geographical diversity that goes into creating what we know now as the underground country roots, or “Muddy Roots” world.
.357 String Band, Ben Prestage, Black Diamond Heavies, Bob Wayne, Bobby Bare, BR549, Calamity Cubes, Dale Watson, Deep Blues Festival, Emmylou Harris, Fat Possum Records, Greg Garing, Hank3, JB Beverley, Junior Kimbrough, Justin Townes Earle, Kris Kristofferson, Legendary Shack Shakers, Lone Wolf OMB, Loretta Lynn, Los Duggans, Mike Ness, Muddy Roots Festival, Pickathon, Rachel Brooke, Ramseur Records, Restavrant, Reverend Horton Heat, RL Burnside, Rusty Knuckles, Scott H. Biram, Slackeye Slim, Some Velvet Evening, Split Lip Rayfield, Steve Erale, Supersuckers, t Model Ford, Ten Foot Polecats, The Avett Bros, The Black Keys, The Devil Makes Three, The Everymen, The Goddamn Gallows, The Pine Box Boys, The Ryman, Those Poor bastards, Tompall Glaser, Trampled by Turtles, Waylon Jennings, Wayne Hancock, Whitey Morgan & The 78's, Willie Nelson, Yep Rock
South by Southwest last year was my first full on experience with the event that brings over 8,000 bands from all over the world to Austin for 5 days of musical mayhem, and it went great. With proper pacing and maybe a little luck, I got everything out of the experience I could ever want. 2011 was one of those experiences you hear many people talk about that is proceeded by “…and I will never go back.”
Amanda Shires, Apache Relay, Bloodshot Records, Caitlin Rose, Drag The River, Eddie Spaghetti, Ha Ha Tonka, Hayes Carll, Hellbound Glory, Jason Isbell, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Leroy Virgil, Muddy Roots Festival, Otis Gibbs, Possessed by Paul James, Robin Wiley, Ruby Jane, Shake It Like A Caveman, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Soda, Ted Russel Kamp, The Civil Wars, The Harmed Brothers, The Waco Brothers, Trampled by Turtles, Two Cow Garage, Whitey Morgan & The 78's
Despite my SXSW preview blogs being horrifically under-read, and misunderstood as boastful bragging pieces about what others can’t experience instead of creative ways to promote artists I may otherwise not be able to talk about, and despite Saving Country Music being eaten by Facebook, ripped in half by XXX, and the last vestiges of readers descending into pointless polarized rants about Hank III and Jamey Johnson…
Austin Lucas, Brent Amaker & The Rodeo, Brigitte London, Caitlin Rose, Drag The River, Eddie Spaghettie, Have Gun Will Travel, Hellbound Glory, O'Death, Otis Gibbs, Possessed by Paul James, Rose's Pawn Shop, Ruby Jane, Scott Biram, Shake It Like A Caveman, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Soda, Ted Russell Kamp, Tom VandenAvond, Trampled by Turtles, Two Cow Garage, Whitey Morgan & The 78's, Willy Tea Taylor
Of course, not every one can be here, but I will be, and leading up to SXSW, I will be doing my best to get everyone ready for the big shindig, including everyone that cannot attend. As I prepare for it, cover it, and then wrap it up, I’ll do my best to encapsulate the experience for everyone, and through articles, pictures, videos, audio, and interviews, help you live the experience vicariously through me, and through osmosis hopefully turn you on to some great music.
As with the Albums of the Year, 2010 will go down as a high water mark for the amount of top quality songs released.
A Song of the Year can’t just be good, it has to touch you. You have to be a different person, in whatever small way, after listening to it. Points are rewarded for things like catchiness and accessibility, but you’ll have to get at least a little bit deep to makes this year’s list. Great songs speak to many people, but to each individual in different ways. We also saw a lot of songs this year with an epic approach, whose sheer vision and grand design deserves to be highlighted.
.357 String Band, Hank III, Hellbound Glory, Hillstomp, Jayke Orvis, Joseph Huber, Lucky Tubb, Possessed by Paul James, Reverend Deadeye, Roger Alan Wade, The Boomswagglers, Trampled by Turtles, Wayne Hancock
Following is my list for the essential albums for 2010, broken down into a few of categories.This is meant to compliment the Album of the Year candidates in this super-packed year for stellar music. Hopefully next year, Saving Country Music can branch out a bit and cover the more traditional mainstream acts, but it will always be on top of the smaller acts trying to get their music out there, not instead of them.
.357 String Band, Brigitte London, Dale Watson, Farmageddon Records, Hank III, Hillstomp, Jayke Orvis, Joseph Huber, Legendary Shack Shakers, Lucky Tubb, Peewee Moore, Pete Berwick, Reverend Deadeye, Shelli Coe, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, The Shivering Denizens, Those Poor bastards, Tom VandenAvond, Trampled by Turtles, Wayne Hancock, Whitey Morgan & The 78's