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

Tholen is the crew member who faces the most grief and logistical curveballs and somehow remains the most even-keeled.

Tall and curly-headed, with a deep, Seth Rogen-like laugh, he has been enjoying Carroll’s banter since they were college roommates in Duluth. The travel agent, scheduling guru, baby sitter and seemingly best friend of everyone in the band, he is also the guy who sees to it they get paid at the end of the night (by check; the days of cash and/or cigarette payoffs are long ago).

As car lights streamed from the parking lot a half-hour after show’s end, two band members hung out backstage drinking their Sold-Out Ale and talking shop with Scottish opening band the Dirty Beggars. A couple others chatted it up with a trio of pretty young women who — coincidentally or not — had found two of the three guys in the band without rings on their fingers.

“You ready?” the show’s promoter asked Tholen, ushering him into a trailer. That was the one and only part of the tour the band didn’t want to see reflected in print. But Tholen did share one fine detail: Merch sales that night were particularly good. “About $4 a head,” he said. Translation: $8,800.

The crew kept earning its keep. The tour bus and trailer couldn’t back down to the stage and risk getting stuck in the mud, so a smaller truck was rounded up to shuttle the gear. “Twice the fun,” Svobodny cracked.

 

• • •

 

“From the very first time we got in a car together, nobody played music that everybody else hated. Nobody ate something that drove somebody else up the wall. That’s why the band I was in when I was 20 years old never drove to Colorado, because we would’ve killed each other. We’ve been very lucky from the very early days, it’s been kind of effortless.”

Erik Berry, mandolinist

LOUISVILLE, KY.

Sunday, July 20

Gigs: WFPK “Bourbon Brunch,” Forecastle Festival

 

“One of the best rock ’n’ roll shows I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Trampled’s frontman wasn’t the only one gushing after seeing the Replacements. “Not a bad way of turning 40,” said the band’s elder statesman, Berry, who was nonchalant about spending his birthday on the road. He turned 30 the day the band played its first gig outside the Central time zone, and has worked most birthdays since.

Held in a riverfront park, Forecastle drew about 25,000 people for its final day — many of whom showed up for Trampled’s late-afternoon set.

The band was resoundingly happy with the large turnout and rowdy response. “You’re making it too hot out here,” one fan yelled after the barnburner “Sounds Like a Movie.” Even better, the crowd listened to quieter new songs such as “Winners.”

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  • Video: Trampled by Turtles lives for the road

    Tuesday August 26, 2014

    Touring can be stressful but the band members describe it as essential to their identity.

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

    Saturday August 23, 2014

    Trampled by Turtles attributes their diverse fan base to a love for music of all styles.

  • 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.

  • TRAMPLED BY TURTLES

    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, FestivalPalomino.com.

    SEE AND HEAR

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

    Tiny Desk Concert: NPR.org. WXPN Free at Noon: Archived at XPN.org.

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