When the members of the boundary-pushing bluegrass group Trampled by Turtles reunited at a Minnesota cabin in October 2017 after a yearlong hiatus, they weren't planning to record the band's seventh album. But the death of their shared hero Tom Petty just a few hours into the visit sparked a commiserative bond that reawakened some old chemistry. Before long, they were in the studio tracking new songs live to tape.
The resulting LP, Life Is Good on the Open Road, marks the band's first studio album in four years. Due May 4th, it balances both delicate ballads and loose, upbeat romps, with frontman Dave Simonett's strident voice connecting the dots. Simonett wrote the folksy "The Middle," the album's second single after "Kelly's Bar," prior to the group's reunion.
"We were jamming on it while we were experimenting in the studio," Simonett says. "The first single was a faster bluegrass song, and this one's a little more poppy. We're doing that as a way to represent the entire record. This one fits, ironically enough, right in the middle as far as vibe goes."
The song begins with a choppy fiddle vamp backing Simonett's cheerful rhythm guitar before the full band joins in on the tuneful verse and chorus, which builds until it crashes by song's end into an uplifting instrumental. Like much of TBT's work, "The Middle" possesses a ready-for-the-stage presence.
"Going into the studio, we really had a vision for this album, which is something we haven't always had," Simonett says. "We wanted to make a raw, pre-live record, which we hadn't done for a little bit. It's how we used to do things coming up, back in the day. It's how we've always enjoyed playing together the most."
Here are Trampled by Turtles' upcoming tour dates:
May 4 – St. Paul, Minnesota @ The Palace Theatre
May 5 – St. Paul, Minnesota @ The Palace Theatre
May 6 – Madison, Wisconsin @ Capitol Theater
May 8 – Boston, Massachusetts @ House of Blues
May 9 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania @ Union Transfer
May 11 – New York, New York @ PlayStation Theater
May 12 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
May 13 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
May 15 – Raleigh, North Carolina @ Ritz
May 17 – Asheville, North Carolina @ Highland Brewing Company
May 18 – Nashville, Tennessee @ Ryman Auditorium
May 19 – Chicago, Illinois @ Thalia Hall
May 20 – Chicago, Illinois @ Thalia Hall
June 1 – Wellston, Michigan @ Camp Greensky Festival
June 3 – Wichita, Kansas @ Wichita Riverfest
June 21 – Stateline, Nevada @ Montbleu
June 22 – Oakland, California @ Fox Theatre
June 23 – San Diego, California @ Humphreys Concerts By The Bay
June 24 – Pasadena, California @ Arroyo Seco Weekend
June 27 – Seattle Washington @ Woodland Park Zoo
June 28 – Jacksonville, Oregon @ Britt Pavilion
June 29 – Portland, Oregon @ Oregon Zoo Amphitheater
June 30 – Vancouver, British Columbia @ Commodore Ballroom
July 7 – Duluth, Minnesota @ Bayfront Park
July 13 – Mount Solon, Virginia @ Red Wing Roots Fest
July 14 – Banner Elk, North Carolina @ Beech Mountain Resort
July 19 – Morrison, Colorado @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
July 21 – Missoula, Montana @ KettleHouse Amphitheater
July 22 – Bozeman, Montana @ Bridger Brewing
August 17 – Portsmouth, Virginia @ Union Bank & Trust Pavilion
August 24 – Moorhead, Minessota @ Bluestem Amphitheater
October 12 – Eureka Springs, Arkansas @ Hillberry Festival