Culture Dose: Tunes to Come

Trampled by Turtles photo by David McClister

Planning for a full season of music at the zoo and beyond.

Recently there have been plenty of roster unveilings for exciting events ranging from the Seattle International Film Festival (taking place May 18 to June 11, tickets on sale now) to Timber! Outdoor Music Festival (which returns July 12 through 14). Earlier this week, Bumbershoot also revealed its anticipated lineup; 3-day passes go on sale Friday, May 4, at noon.

Trampled by Turtles photo by David McClister

Other summertime series that are quickly selling out include Zoo Tunes, a family-friendly affair that brings a patchwork of picnickers to the green oasis of Woodland Park Zoo. On June 27, Trampled by Turtles headlines with special guest Deer Tick.

When Trampled by Turtles announced their hiatus in the fall of 2016, their list of successes included: having multiple albums climb the Billboard charts, with two reaching the No. 1 spot on the Bluegrass charts and one topping the Folk chart; they’d appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman twice; and they’d performed at nearly every major festival in the U.S. and Canada, from Coachella to Bonnarroo, Lollapalooz and the Newport Folk Festival, “pulling in huge and adoring crowds with their breakneck string performances and heartfelt, sometimes gut-wrenching lyrics.”

So when the six musicians arranged to get together at banjo player Dave Carroll’s cabin for a meeting in October 2017, a pressing question lurked: Would the magic that first united them around rapid-fire string music in the early 2000s still remain? Would they still feel like a band?

The answer: “‘I think a little break was really good,’ says Simonett. ‘I started to miss the guys, and playing music with them. I think everybody kind of felt that way after we got some space, so it was really healthy. We were like, hey, we should make a record — and the feeling was really casual and there was no pressure at all. We were able to do it in a way that kind of felt like 15 years ago.’

Tracking for their new album, Life is Good on the Open Road, was completed in just six days at Pachyderm and mixed the following week. The band produced the album themselves with the help of Pachyderm’s house engineer, Nick Tveitbakk, recording everything live to tape.

Life is Good on the Open Road is the sound of freedom washing over the group like a sunrise, a new day rising. When discussing the album, both Simonett and Berry toyed with the phrase ‘return to form,’ suggesting that it captures something pure and essential about the Trampled by Turtles sound.

The band weaves their instruments together like a seamless tapestry, laying down a bed that seems to float underneath Simonett’s expressive voice. Each song seems to tell its own story, from tales of nights gone wrong to love that’s been lost and dreams that need chasing, and the group shifts in unison from tender ballads to barn burning hair-raisers, sometimes in the same song. Simonett’s lyrics, which have grown ever sharper over the years, occasionally rise up to shoot an arrow directly through the heart. ‘I’ve been moving logs just to keep the fire burning / My voice is gone but the band wants to play,’ he sighs on ‘Right Back Where We Started,’ while the title track offers pure poetry: ‘Run so fast through the fields in May / I forgot what I had to say / I’ve never been through a harder day / Than the one that left your ghost here.’

Although no songs directly address the band’s time apart, there are metaphors that speak to the experience of putting Trampled by Turtles to bed and waking it back up again. As the band prepares to swing back into action, perhaps there’s no better line to summarize their return than on that title track, ‘Life is Good on the Open Road’: ‘The light inside you comes and goes / But it never really goes out.'”

Roots of Creation photo by Josh Coffman

Looking for a show to enjoy sometime sooner—like tonight perhaps? Reggae jam fusion band Roots of Creation comes to Fremont’s Nectar Lounge this evening (Thursday, May 3). The band is touring in support of Grateful Dub, a reggae-inspired tribute album to the Grateful Dead. The recently released album has impressively debuted at #1 on the Billboard Reggae Chart. The new record was recorded, mixed and co-produced by Errol Brown (Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Rebelution) and features collaborations with Stephen Marley, G. Love and Melvin Seals (Jerry Garcia Band), among other talents.