"Wait So Long", "The Middle" and "Alone"
Trampled by Turtles are from Duluth, Minnesota, where frontman Dave Simonett initially formed the group as a side project in 2003. At the time, Simonett had lost most of his music gear, thanks to a group of enterprising car thieves who’d ransacked his vehicle while he played a show with his previous band. Left with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, he began piecing together a new band, this time taking inspiration from bluegrass, folk, and other genres that didn’t rely on amplification. Simonett hadn’t played any bluegrass music before, and he filled his lineup with other newcomers to the genre, including fiddler Ryan Young (who’d previously played drums in a speed metal act) and bassist Tim Saxhaug. Along with mandolinist Erik Berry and banjo player Dave Carroll, the group began carving out a fast, frenetic sound that owed as much to rock & roll as bluegrass.
Trampled by Turtles released their first record, Songs from a Ghost Town, in 2004. In a genre steeped in tradition, the album stood out for its contemporary sound, essentially bridging the gap between the bandmates’ background in rock music and their new acoustic leanings. Blue Sky and the Devil (2005) and Trouble (2007) explored a similar sound, but it wasn’t until 2008 and the band’s fourth release, Duluth, that Trampled by Turtles received recognition by the bluegrass community. Duluth peaked at number eight on the Billboard bluegrass chart and paved the way for a number of festival appearances. When Palomino arrived in 2010, it was met with an even greater response, debuting at the top of the bluegrass chart and remaining in the Top Ten for more than a year. Two years later, their crossover appeal landed them at number 32 on the Billboard 200 pop charts upon the release of their sixth album, Stars and Satellites. In addition to major bluegrass and folk festivals, they began showing up at Coachella, ACL Fest, and Lollapalooza. The official concert album, Live at First Avenue, followed in 2013, recorded at Minnesota’s most famous venue. A year later, the band returned with the darker-toned Wild Animals, which bettered its studio predecessor on the album charts, reaching number 29 on Billboard. Countless tours with bands like Lord Huron, Wilco, Caamp, Mt Joy and Deer Tick to name a few have followed. 2022 will see the release of the band’s latest body of work called Alpenglow which was produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco.
About Charles Wesley Godwin
A native of West Virginia, Charles Wesley Godwin makes cinematic country-folk that’s as gorgeous and ruggedly raw as his homeland. It’s Appalachian Americana, rooted in Godwin’s sharp songwriting and backwoods baritone. With 2021’s How the Mighty Fall, he trades the autobiographical lyrics that filled Seneca — his acclaimed debut, released in 2019 and celebrated by everyone from Rolling Stone to NPR’s Mountain Stage — for a collection of character-driven songs about mortality, hope, and regret, putting an intimate spin on the universal concerns we all share.
“I started a family around the time Seneca came out,” he remembers. “After my son was born, I remember sitting in the hospital, thinking about how that very experience would eventually become one of those life moments that flash before my eyes when I’m old. I realized that time is passing, and my time will pass, too. Becoming a father made it all sink in.”
Those realizations quickly found their way into his writing. If Seneca painted the picture of a southern son in the middle of American coal country, then How the Mighty Fall — produced once again by Al Torrence — zooms out to focus on wider themes of time, transience, and the choices we make.
Songs like “Strong” “Bones” and “Blood Feud” are roadhouse roots-rockers, driven forward by fiery fiddle, lap steel and plenty of electric guitar. Godwin does most of his painting with more subtle shades, though, often waiting until How the Mighty Fall‘s softer moments to make his biggest impact. On “Cranes of Potter,” he delivers a murder ballad with finger-plucked acoustic guitar and elegiac melodies, unspooling the narrative with a storyteller’s restraint. Meanwhile, “Temporary Town” finds him returning to West Virginia after spending five years in the midwest, celebrating his homecoming not with barely-contained enthusiasm, but with measured excitement, light percussion, and a steadily-building arrangement.
“I try to write with a sense of place,” he explains. “Up until now, that setting has always been my home, but I don’t think this new album is as locally-focused as my previous release. I hope these songs will connect with people wherever they live.”
The son of a coal miner father and a schoolteacher mother, Godwin began forging those musical connections in 2013, while studying abroad in Estonia. He’d learned the acoustic guitar several years earlier, looking for a diversion after failing to secure a spot on the West Virginia University football team. Halfway across the world in Estonia, he started strumming songs in his apartment, summoning the sights and sounds of West Virginia for a group of new friends who’d never laid eyes on the state. Fans were made, gigs were booked, and Godwin launched his full-time music career shortly after graduation.
Marriage soon took him to Ohio, where his wife worked as a fundraiser. Even so, West Virginia remained at the forefront of Godwin’s mind, and he saluted the area’s influence with his 2019 debut. Seneca was a hit, with Billboard praising the album’s “the vivid language and scenic ambience,” and Rolling Stone enthusing, “His voice, with its tight, old-world vibrato, is perfect.” Godwin hit the road in support of its release, touring domestically one minute and selling out shows in European destinations like Stockholm the next. When the global pandemic brought his touring to a halt, he set his sights on How the Mighty Fall, creating the album during a period that also witnessed the arrival of his son and the migration of his growing family back to West Virginia.
Charles Wesley Godwin has never been afraid to blur the lines, and How the Mighty Fall proudly straddles the borderlands between several genres. It’s a country album by an Appalachian-borne folk singer and blue-collar believer, laced with enough electricity to satisfy the Saturday night
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