Once a week, between now and the Festival, we’ll be featuring posts from a hand-picked group of the country’s best music bloggers as part of our Artist Discovery Series. From the well-established headliners to buzzworthy newcomers making a stir in the music world, these artist profiles are meant to give you a closer look at the wide range of talent taking over Grant Park this summer. Today’s feature comes from HearYa’s Scott Osler. Family. Not exactly the first word that comes to mind in the music scene, but that’s where my mind wanders in describing Trampled by Turtles. Fans as family: It comes from the experience and feeling one has seeing the band perform live. These five guys are about as real and tangible as it gets. They perform their unique, often frantic, brand of bluegrass with technical proficiency while carrying themselves with sincerity and genuine appreciation for everyone that attends their show. Prior to each encore, they take a picture of the crowd and post to Facebook, where fans dive in to tag themselves and add comments. It’s impossible not to connect with them on a level unattainable with more traditional “rock star” personas. Band as family: We had the pleasure of taping a live session with Trampled By Turtles at Shirk Music + Sound in Chicago. After the first song, Shirk left the control room to re-calibrate our cameraman, who had spent the entire five minutes of “Widower’s Heart” with the camera focused on Ryan Young (fiddle) and Erick Berry (mandolin). While those guys are great players and were contributing some interesting parts to this song, “Widower’s Heart” is a folk ballad, so naturally he felt that some time needed to be spent on the vocalist, Dave Simonett. After overhearing the conversation, Dave replied with a modest “I don’t think you need to get any more of me.” That’s when we realized that this band was really a working family and each member’s contribution was as important as the next, regardless of who pens the songs. Their stage setup is also oriented this way – each band member standing out front with alternating solos. The entire band is the front man, backing band, solo player. Family, well, as family: During that same session, Dave saw a picture of Shirk’s new daughter and commented that his wife had just given birth to their first daughter. Erik Berry’s wife had just given birth to their second child as well. So this is a group of family men? They made no apology about being a touring band saying, yeah, it is tough being away from your family for a few weeks at a time. But they make up for it when they are home and can spend all their time with family. Among the three core contributors at HearYa, we have six kids between us. As we’ve grown into fatherhood, there’s even more to appreciate in bands that are in the same place in their lives. Is it rock n’ roll? Perhaps not the lifestyle, but the music surely is. Trampled by Turtles are not a “new discovery.” Their recent release (also their best) is their sixth since 2004. If you are walking around Grant Park with a cold can of beer in your hand, get a good spot for this set. High five me later.
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