Preview: Trampled by Turtles to perform Friday at Pavilion following 4-year hiatus

Life is Good on the Open Road, according to the folk-rock band Trampled by Turtles’ new album.

Now, the open road will lead the band to the Washington Pavilion this Friday where it will perform the album with the aforementioned name.

“It ended up being a celebration of an unsettled life in all of its glories and downfalls,” lead vocalist Dave Simonett said. “There’s a lot of adventure and creativity that I get to be a part of all the time and without that I’d probably go crazy. So it’s kind of a celebration of it.”

Together now for nearly 16 years now, the band is known for its high energy performances where it experiments with the kinetic sounds of American bluegrass and folk.

Life is good.
Trampled by Turtles’ new album Life is Good on the Open Road, the band’s first album following its four-year hiatus. Photo provided by Trampled by Turtles.

But the members weren’t always folk musicians.

Before meeting in 2003, all six members were punk and rock musicians performing with different bands in Duluth, Minnesota.

“None of us had really played any kind of acoustic music before,” Simonett said. “But at some point we wanted to try an acoustic side project.”

At the time, current mandolinist for the band, Erik Berry, had just picked up the instrument and would bring different folk songs for the group to try out.

“In any early endeavor, especially in art, I think most people start with imitation before you start to find your own voice,” Simonett said.

Among the musicians who influenced the group were Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, Ralph Stanley and Bob Dylan.

“I blame Bob Dylan for getting me started in writing songs,” Simonett said. “At that time I hadn’t been writing songs for that long and so I was discovering that side of music at that point. I found the poetry in voices like that.”

Soon, after experimenting with different folk and bluegrass artists, Trampled by Turtles found a voice of its own. It released its first record Songs from a Ghost Town in 2004 which reflected both the band members’ new interest in bluegrass and their backgrounds in rock.

The band has now released eight albums in total, three of which reached U.S. Billboard Charts Number One Spots. After reconvening in the Minnesota north woods, the group created its latest album, following a four-year hiatus.

“We got into the studio, and it was like before where we could read each other’s minds,” Simonett said. “And that’s a pretty rare thing to find.”

After their hiatus, Simonett said all six members felt refreshed and ready to return to a life of touring which, he said, they’ve learned not to take for granted.

The lyrics of the album’s title track affirms this realization: “Life is good on the open road/ We’re closer now than we’ll ever know/ The light inside you comes and goes/ But it never really goes out.”

Trampled by Turtles will perform at the Washington Pavillion this Friday, Jan. 18. Tickets start at $32.70.

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