DAN ALDERMAN, Adventure guy, Austin, Texas
A blazing blend of new school meets old school
“It takes a special breed to play folk/bluegrass faster and harder than any metal band out there, but anyone who’s ever seen a Trampled by Turtles show knows the band is that breed”…vancouverweekly.com
I hate to admit it, but as someone who’s been living in Central Texas for the past six years and a lover of all things live music, I’ve never been to Gruene Hall. Blasphemy, I know! It had gotten to the point where, because it had taken me so long to see a show there, I decided that not ANY show would do but instead I would only go for a band that would leave me in awe. When I saw that the band Trampled by Turtles http://www.trampledbyturtles.com was coming, I knew this would be a show worthy enough to baptize me in the 140 year old dance hall that is Gruene Hall http://www.gruenehall.com.
A Living Music Museum
If you haven’t made the pilgrimage to Gruene, TX and Gruene Hall you owe it to yourself to make the trek and experience a really cool trip back in time. Not much has changed since “the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas” was built in 1878 and in the traditional dance hall style features a big bar in the back, wooden benches flanking each side, a wide open dance floor and big outside beer garden. Old advertisements from the early 1900’s line the perimeter and the open ceiling gives you the feeling like you’re in an old barn.
As someone who loves the history of music, I couldn’t help but think of my many heroes that have been on that stage and drank at that bar in the past 50 years. Guys who are recognized as pioneers of Texas Country and Americana music with names like George Strait, Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Merle Haggard and Greg Allman. And when frontman Dave Simonett walked out on stage and says “Wow This is Cool!” you know they’re feeling the vibe as well.
Everything is Better with Bluegrass
It was clear that after walking through “the Willie door” Trampled by Turtles were charged and ready to light up the over anxious crowd. Everyone’s appetite was already whet from an energized set by opening band The Ghost of Paul Revere http://www.ghostofpaulrevere.com. Formed in 2003, Trampled by Turtles is a bluegrass/folk band from Duluth, Minnesota that’s been helping to lead the jamgrass scene for over a decade. Since then, they’ve been fixtures at the major festivals including Coachella, Bonnaroo and last year’s Austin City Limits.
From young to old, the diverse crowd of hipsters, rednecks and yuppies were treated to an intimate show of driving guitar, banjo and mandolin. Then energy felt more like a rock show than a bluegrass show. While they play fast, they are also in sync, tight and sound crisp. Seeing them in this venue only added to experience as you could feel the old floor shake as everyone stomped and hollered bringing the band back for one more. The set ran through their entire catalog and closed with a soulful rendition of “Whiskey” from their first album Songs from a Ghost Town released in 2004.
A Bucket List Venue
After 90 minutes of some of the best bluegrass jamming I’ve ever seen, I was convinced the wait was worth it and swore I’d be back to Gruene Hall soon. From a great meal at Mozie’s http://www.mozies.com – get the sliders, the trip back in time at Gruene Hall and seeing some of the best live music around, the entire evening was pretty awesome. Do yourself a favor and check out the Gruene Hall calendar http://www.gruenehall.com/calendar/ and pick a show. You’ll be a better person for it.