Trampled by Turtles Closes Out Q Casino’s 2023 Summer Concert Series
The 2023 Summer Concert Series at Q Casino's Back Waters Stage was a tremendous success for all involved. As someone who attended all but one of the shows, each concert was the highlight of my week, sometimes multiple in a weekend, and there was a quiet but noticeable wave of sadness that washed over me once the final encore of the year concluded on Friday, September 15th.
That encore came from Trampled by Turtles, a Duluth-based folk/bluegrass band that has been going strong for 20 years. Trampled by Turtles has garnered quite a devout following, and that was on display as a couple thousand concertgoers gathered once again at Q Casino on Friday night for one final outdoor show before the weather inevitably cools.
West Virginia native Charles Wesley Godwin took the stage prior to the Turtles. Godwin has the singer-songwriter sensibilities of John Prine and Kris Kristofferson. He's got a soft cadence, but one that demands you listen when he sings.
While several of his songs practically demanded a more relaxed, nuance performance, Godwin didn't shy away from jamming with his band. During one of the extended outros of his song, Godwin leapt up from his stool, played his guitar whilst facing each of his individual bandmembers, and even fell to his knees while continuing to play.
The vibe for these shows was defined early. This was one of the most laidback concerts of the season, with people intermixing and mingling, raising their libations to the music, and even using the music as a way to enhance their social gathering. The atmosphere was casual, and Godwin was the ideal opener for the Minnesota-based bluegrass band.
Not long after Godwin's set wrapped (fittingly with his cover of "Take Me Home (Country Roads)" by John Denver), Trampled by Turtles took the stage to roaring applause. The band performed music from their latest album, Alpenglow, as well as cuts from their previous releases such as Palomino and Wild Animals.
Heading into this show, my familiarity with Trampled by Turtles was admittedly slim. However, there was one song I knew very well, and one I knew I wanted to hear live. That song was "Codeine," a song I recall hearing at a movie theater back home of all places. It did not disappoint live.
One of the best aspects of live bluegrass/folk music is how it is allowed to breathe live. Unlike the confines of studio albums, instruments like the mandolin and the acoustic guitar are afforded room to breathe in the open space of a concert venue.
As night fell, the Turtles, like the crowd, felt the pleasantly cool yet humid air engulf everyone as their music took no time in becoming the center of attention.
In contrast to bands like Halestorm or Third Eye Blind, who both put on great shows this summer at the same venue in their own right, Trampled by Turtles served as a comparatively peaceful finale for a wholly memorable (and successful) season of concerts for Q Casino's Back Waters Stage.
The lineup for 2023 was rife with A-list acts and talent. Surely, the great folks at Q Casino are already working diligently on next year's lineup. With new, $75 million renovations starting at the popular Dubuque attraction, there will likely be an even better experience going forward. I'll be here for all/most of them, as will thousands of others.