Trampled By Turtles have played some of the country's most popular and renowned music festivals — notably Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and the Newport Folk Festival. Exposure was also buoyed by an appearance in 2012 on CBS's "Late Show With David Letterman," the band's network TV debut.
"These guys are great, aren't they, Paul?" Letterman said to his bandleader, Paul Schaefer, after the band's performance of "Alone."
Since their inception in 2003, the quintet has been arguably Mankato's most beloved regional band, packing a plethora of local venues from the What's Up? Lounge to the Kato Ballroom and, most recently, Riverfront Park. Scan the crowd when Trampled By Turtles play Mankato — an audience full of high school and college students, families, even relatives of the band—and it’s evident these musicians paid their dues.
"We are not some kind of overnight success story," said the band's longtime fiddler, Ryan Young. "Far from it."
Young chuckles when recalling humbling out-of-state gigs from the band's early days that were, shall we say, sparsely attended.
"I was there for a few shows where there were like three people there," Young said in a phone interview from his home in Crystal. "There was one show where zero people showed up. No, actually there were two shows now that I think about it. One was on Easter in Washington D.C., which was understandable. It was Easter. But there was another that wasn't on a holiday in Abilene, Texas."
Abilene never quite flourished into a Trampled stronghold — yet, at least. But when the band plays the nation's capital these days, it's usually at the 9:30 Club, a venue akin in size and scope to Minneapolis' First Avenue.
"It's been great how things have started from literally zero sometimes and we built it up every time to where there's more people," Young said. "It's unbelievable."