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John Lamb, Published January 29 2014

Weekend Watch: Trampled by Turtles keep fans in a trance

FARGO - Trampled by Turtles are spending so much time on the road they seem more like the racing rabbit than the deliberate tortoise.

For the third time in 15 months the bluegrass-inspired act brings its strings to Fargo-Moorhead on Saturday night, returning to the Venue at the Hub.

The quintet’s last show at The Venue nearly sold out, as did the group’s May visit to the Bluestem Center for the Arts in Moorhead. Shows tonight and tomorrow in Bismarck and Sioux Falls are already sold out.

There’s no real secret to the Duluth, Minn.,-based band’s appeal. Anyone who’s been to a show knows it’s all about the music. There’s no set, no stage show, no in-between song banter. Just the music.

There’s not even a lot of stage presence. Until a few years ago, the four pickers and the fiddler spent entire concerts sitting. They now stand for their sets, but with the exception of head-banging bassist Tim Saxhaug or Ryan Young’s contortions during fiddle solos, there’s not much movement.

What they lack in flashy visuals, they make up for in solid musicianship and stirring harmonies. Whether it’s banjo player Dave Caroll and mandolin player Eric Berry whipping through barn-burners like “Wait So Long” and “Walt Whitman,” or singer/guitarist Dave Simonett starting off solo on the introspective “Alone” and “Midnight on the Interstate,” these Turtles keep fans in a trance.

Their acoustic live performances are so electrifying that the group recorded a set at Minneapolis’ legendary night club First Avenue and released it last November. The recording is a good representation of their musical execution, but doesn’t take the place of watching the band play live.

If You Go

WHAT: Trampled by Turtles and The Pines

WHEN: 9 p.m. Saturday, doors open at 8 p.m.

where: The Venue at The Hub, 2525 9th Ave. S., Fargo

tickets: Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 the day of the show.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533