Trampled by Turtles’ sound is anything but slow-moving

01/26/2013 10:05 PM

05/16/2014 8:54 PM

Its name may seem ludicrous, but the band Trampled by Turtles can evoke the sound of a stampede. The five-piece acoustic band hails from Duluth, Minn., yet its sound is drawn from Appalachia country blues and bluegrass. Unlike the critter in its name, however, there is rarely anything shy or slow-moving about the results.

Wednesday night at the Granada in Lawrence, the band spent an hour and 40 minutes whipping a packed house into various stages of fervency and invigoration. We’ve seen and heard this sound before, starting with local hero Split Lip Rayfield, which became legend for its warp-speed take on bluegrass.

When they steer more toward the folk tradition, Turtles can sound more like the wave of acoustic/folk-rock bands (Mumford & Sons, the Lumineers). It all made for a show that was as satisfying as it was entertaining, if not transcendent.

Turtles opened with “Alone,” a track off their latest album, “Stars and Satellites.” That one’s a lambent, mid-tempo folk number embroidered with banjo, fiddle and mandolin and burnished with three-part harmonies — prime elements of the band’s signature. They then kicked up the tempo with “Help You” and then an instrumental, both of which featured more of the same elements, but at double and triple the beats per minute.

Dave Simonett is the band’s founder and lead singer. His voice is handsome and polished, almost too much. If the Turtles’ sound could use more of anything, it’s some splinters and grit. Sometimes precision and shine can become too much of a good thing.

The set list featured a few other songs off “Satellites”: “The Calm and the Crying Wind,” “Sorry,” the lovely and plaintive “Walt Whitman” and “Widower’s Heart,” which featured the show’s opener, Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket, on pedal steel guitar.

Other songs on the set list: “Separate,” a ballad that featured some tack-sharp harmonies that bore a Crosby Stills & Nash vibe, the jaunty “Still in Love With You,” “Bloodshot Eyes” and “Feet and Bones,” another high-speed bluegrass number — speed metal with mandolin and banjo.

The band finished with “Trouble,” a cosmic ballad and the title track of the group’s third album and then the show-ending “Codeine,” a high-speed bluegrass romp with effects that were anything but narcotic.

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