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Continued: Minnesota's highwaymen: Six days on the road with Trampled by Turtles

They had a 5½-hour drive to Rochester. The bus and crew had left that morning with most of the gear. The band was in danger of missing its set time.

As he often does when things get tense, the banjo player cut the air with a joke. Under a photo of the Dalai Lama that was taken on the same set, he asked, “You mean the morning-show greenroom doesn’t have a coke bowl?!”

Finally, with images of missile launchers and President Obama showing on the screen, the band was given a throat-cutting signal by a CBS staffer. The gig was off.

Apologies were exchanged. So were sandwiches. Many sandwiches, in fact. Realizing that they wouldn’t have time to stop for a bite, the band shoveled the finger foods off the greenroom catering cart into their bags. Once again, food would be the only form of payment.

They made it to Rochester with a half-hour to spare.

• • •


“Traveling in a bus is a luxury. It gets cramped in here for sure. If everybody is up, there’s not really 12 places for people to sit. Somebody has to go lie down. But that’s nothing to complain about. Having this crew has made our lives so much easier.”

Ryan Young, fiddler


Friday, July 18

Gigs: WXPN “Free at Noon” broadcast, Sound Garden in-store


A seasoned road hound who did many tours of duty with Steve Earle and once got to punch Ryan Adams in the face (at the singer’s request, no less), Trampled sound technician Matt Svobodny looked even happier than the band did about being at WXPN’s renowned World Cafe Live.

Part nightclub and part radio studio, the NPR affiliate’s three-tiered, 300-capacity venue rivals any small theater. “It’s always a treat here,” the Minneapolis roadie said before the band’s performance, broadcast live on air and over the Internet.

As screwdrivers from the bar and Duluth gossip circulated in the dressing room, singer Simonett stepped out for a smoke. He shrugged off the prior day’s mad dash, citing the day’s real tragedy as well as a more tumultuous moment from the band’s tour annals.

Headed to Montana in the late-’00s, they got stuck in Wall, S.D., for two nights due to heavy snow. They finally dug out their van, only to find it wouldn’t start. One very crammed tow-truck ride to Rapid City and eight hours of sketchy driving later, they pulled up to their gig in Bozeman, Mont., to find fellow Minnesota openers Lucy Michelle & the Velvet Lapelles playing their set a second time, stalling.

“It’s hard to complain about anything that goes on these days,” Simonett said, fondly adding, “That’s when we got to know Eamonn, too.” (Cellist Eamonn McLain, the band’s newest member, also plays with Michelle.)

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  • Video: Trampled by Turtles lives for the road

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  • Video: Eclectic taste, fans define Trampled by Turtles’ style

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  • U.S. Senate staffer Jamie DeAtley, right, staked out a spot to greet singer Dave Simonett and the rest of Trampled by Turtles as they arrived at National Public Radio’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

  • Eamonn McLain demonstrated his own kind of pre-show ritual — and the fact that he’s about a decade younger than the rest of the band at 26 — before the big festival gig in Louisville, Ky.

  • Carroll found his own quiet if not quaint corner behind the Pisgah Brewing Co.’s outdoor stage to warm up his fingers, a pre-show ritual for most of the band members.

  • Dave Simonett on the band’s tour bus before their show in Black Mountain, N.C.

  • Trampled’s frontman took a last-minute smoke break before a WXPN-FM broadcast at World Café Live in Philadelphia — where he remembered a prior show that paid only in cigarettes.

  • The bigger the crowd, the shorter the sound check: Trampled by Turtles hit the stage running in front of about 10,000 fans at the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Ky., playing before fellow Minnesotans the Replacements. From left: Dave Simonett, Dave Carroll, Ryan Young and Erik Berry.

  • String tech Dave Feirn tuned Dave Simonett’s guitar a few minutes before Trampled by Turtles played to a crowd of 10,000 people at the Forecastle Festival in Louisville.

  • Before they began the sound check for their show in Black Mountain, N.C., the band ironed out the kinks in their rendition of the Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

  • As guitar tech Dave Feirn and tour manager Mike Tholen stood by, Dave Carroll cleared his eyes and Dave Simonett, Tim Saxhaug and Eamonn McLain tested their gear at the Forecastle Festival.

  • Trampled by Turtles’ taping of a segment for “CBS This Morning” at a studio in Manhattan was delayed and then postponed as the story of a Ukrainian airliner being shot down unfolded.

  • Erik Berry’s well-traveled mandolin.

  • Simonett dug out his luggage from the bus cargo hold to find a fresh T-shirt.

  • Who says kids don’t buy records anymore? A mostly young crowd filled the aisles for Trampled by Turtles’ in-store set and album signing at the Sound Garden in Baltimore.

  • Cellist Eamonn McLain finished his sound check for a “CBS This Morning” taping in New York as the story of a downed Ukrainian airliner unfolded onscreen behind them. The band’s appearance ultimately got bumped by the breaking news.

  • Trampled’s two Daves got to unwind during Beck’s set at the Forecastle Festival before flying home the next day, capping off a two-week stretch with a three-day break.

  • Engineer Kevin Wait adjusted the microphone during sound check for Trampled by Turtles’ “Tiny Desk Concert” taping at NPR’s offices in Washington, DC.


    Playing: The Festival Palomino Sept. 20 at Canterbury Park in Shakopee. With: The Head & the Heart, Low, Charles Bradley, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Field Report, Spirit Family Reunion, more. Tickets: $34,


    At See a full photo gallery and video feature with Trampled by Turtles as well as their archived Letterman TV appearance.

    Tiny Desk Concert: WXPN Free at Noon: Archived at

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