Words by Samantha "Red Heaven" Gorsky :: Images by Martin Butler

Blue Turtle Seduction :: 04.15.06 :: Miner's Foundry :: Nevada City, CA

Blue Turtle Seduction :: 04.15 :: Tahoe, CA
It had been over 35 days straight of rain in the Sierra Foothills, and over 35 days since Blue Turtle Seduction embarked on their long and windy tour through the Pacific Northwest, Montana, Colorado, the Southwest, and Southern California. The tour started in the Sierras in the town of Nevada City, CA, at the local music club known as Cooper's. Thought of as their second home to South Lake Tahoe, it was full-circle coming back to Nevada City, this time around at the historical Gold Rush-haunted hall, the Miner's Foundry. Celebration was in order, which was easily manifested by locals and travelers who have already been captivated by the one-of-a-kind ensemble. Whether it was the band or the venue, anyone who was here for the first time would find quick comfort in the freaky-yet-familiar family energy.

Mandi Malone of Victor Barnes :: 04.15 :: Tahoe, CA
Fort Collins, Colorado's very own Victor Barnes took the stage first. We were delighted that a fresh Colorado band would grace us tonight with that sound only found in the Rocky Mountains. The treats were delivered as many of the Leftover Salmon fans in the audience were instantly at ease with their highly danceable Cajun mountain blend. Mandi Malone's distinct vocals, flamboyant fiddle, and casual charisma instantly lit fires under everyone's feet. Ken Minkes's songs and guitar playing had plenty of soul. This was one of the more satisfying openers I've heard, and I foreshadowed them returning to give Northern California more of what Colorado has brewing. Victor Barnes was eclectic and rootsy and set the pace for an evening of too much fun. Although the sound still needed some tweaking, they delivered that sweet mountain sound with grit and personality.

Sean Lehe of Home at Last :: 04.15 :: Tahoe, CA
The West needs a new guitar hero, and Sean Lehe might just be the man. It's obvious he, along with many others in our family of guitarists, is inspired by Jerry and Trey, but he does it with an underground New California twist reaching his own scaffolding. With the Mandelbrot spiral video screen lighting up the hall and with the crowd ripe, ready, out of the rain, and into the frying pan, Home At Last decided to go big - VERY big. Their funk/rock-infused futuristic Wild West sound is individualized by their song craft and extraterrestrial journeys that incorporate more spirit than gimmick. They brought their originals in full-force. "Settle" brings a flowing rock groove to a strange vision of the future and industrial ages. Sean sings of brown skies and earthly decay but stirs up the heart in a dancing vibe. Brian Rodgers was holding a strong friendly space on vocals and percussion in the middle of the stage. They were creating that magical rock 'n' roll whirl that crushes listeners with intensity. The crazy moments unfurled fully when a powerhouse keyboard-heavy version of Railroad Earth's "Seven Story Mountain" came billowing gracefully out of the speakers, which by this time were sounding better than I've ever heard in this hall. They turned the song into their own, paying homage to the many hardcore Railroad Earth Hobos in the crowd. That feeling of "anything can happen tonight!" was creeping up on us swiftly.

Blue Turtle Seduction :: 04.15 :: Tahoe, CA
When you hear Blue Turtle Seduction's first notes, you might transform into gnomic prose somewhere between the Endor Forest, the Creature Cantina, and Middle Earth. It is as if you're on another planet that's very similar to high altitude Tahoe.

Tracing the steps of Blue Turtle it is worth noting that the band has earned a spot on JamBase's Top 20 Road Warriors for 2005. They have received their second invitation to the High Sierra Music Festival (where they will be spicing up the first late night with friends Hot Buttered Rum). With this in mind, it's high time to fully embrace the creative journey. They've always lead us to unusually cozy ceremonial celebratory places, but it was now time to become the tour guides, the scenery, and the method of transportation.

Chocolate seems to taste so much better than the coffee. The movement in the water seems to ease the memory.

In an instant hoedown, they opened with "Big Belt Buckle," which for familiar ears is like breaking straight into the middle of a song. It always segues in from "Roses," which was left unfinished the previous night in Oakland. It was instant two-step splendor.

The sense of the storm cannot comprehend. The river changes course right around the bend. Lightning overshoots whole trying to make a turn, landing in the barn and the barn begins to burn!

Blue Turtle Seduction :: 04.15 :: Tahoe, CA
Slam, bam, wham, into "Peace in the Neighborhood." This is their home base tune, the post-climax favorite. Tonight, the road morphed. There was a different fast pace excitement to it. Jay Seals pronounced the words with clear dictation, singing each word with praise and charm. Reggae beats tend to raise the highest spirits at the Foundry, it never fails. It just may be the building's beat of choice. The guys were feeling saucy, and they weren't afraid to let the Gold Rush miner ghosts dance in the rafters.

Another highlight of the first set was "Government." A monumental tune, dark and creepy, embraces the sultry flavor of Christian Zupancic's violin weeping over the hopeful gritty vocals of Glenn Stewart, whose voice sometimes reminds me of The Clash's Joe Strummer. The tune feels desperate, but it's the upbeat drive of the chorus into the pinnacle lyrics, "In this web of life, we are only one strand / Take away one part, and the web can't stand," that puts forces one and all to dance. Blue Turtle's lyrics always seem to be the perfect thing to tie audience and band together. "Prometido," the European-tinged Hava Nagila-style celebration jig, brings it on when everyone sings, "She doesn't need him anyway / We'll all be together in the end."

Blue Turtle Seduction :: 04.15 :: Tahoe, CA
The second set obviously picked up on Tystria and Lara's songstress setbreak flower-power acoustics in a crazy bouncy unforgettable version of "Backwoods Gypsy." Jay's beat poetry antics described this place we call home in a "ray of passion and relation" as he hit the spirits with amazing words, words that could only be used in this way by his mind. He's preaching to his own planet, but Earth's satellites are catching on. The pace continued in their all-out slamgrass ska bounce-style pandemonium. Christian moved between his electric mando and violin with smiles as Glenn kept his harmonica promises of not just soloing but making it a part of the overall blend. You can really tell nobody is trying to hog the stage. Even Steve Seals on bass and Adam Lavone on drums keep a heartfelt pace with their own slight swatches of soloing, but they do so in a manner that really proves nobody's trying to outdo the other. Even the vocals are shared in most of the songs.

The latest cover tune, Wyclef Jean's "Stripper Song," was transformed into a ska-bohemian mountain jubilee. At the end of the second set, after seamless jams and fiddlin' frenzies, funky freakouts, and hobbit land musings, came a thick, gooey reprise to "Peace in the Neighborhood." With a heavy reggae thump, as if it took a rejuvenating swim through a honey lake, Jay continued from the first set:

Royalty, a thousand white storms. The sermon of poets in no particular form. Today, you know exactly where they be, moment by moment in this gospel of we.

For Blue Turtle Seduction to play with their journey, take new roads, throw away the map, is something that wasn't forced or rushed since their inception in 2001. Tonight, we sensed serious activity about to take flight, and that reflects in the fans, friends, and even the gold miner ghosts, who on this night rose to push these foothills to the top of the mountain.

JamBase | Tahoe
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[Published on: 5/25/06]

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Him starstarstarstarstar Fri 5/26/2006 05:14AM
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Great Article! I'd love to see them in the south east.
Well writen and great photo's.

patgill4 starstarstarstarstar Fri 5/26/2006 06:39AM
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Great Review Sam!!! My knowledge of BTS is very limited, but thanks for bringing me into your world a bit with that just to get those guys to make a trip to the East Coast :)

deadphish001 starstarstarstarstar Fri 5/26/2006 11:13AM
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Hey, nice article Red. Sounds like a truly Nevada City Phreakout w/ all the right trimmings.
Little RRE was a nice add to this groovy mix, and I agree Sean Lehe is a pretty mean guitar ripper... definetly caught my ear and attention at the Wood Bee Bobo Adventure Fest. See ya soon!

cheeser420 starstarstarstarstar Fri 5/26/2006 11:15AM
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Well done, Red Heaven. I'll be sure to give these guys a listen.

Navin R. Johnson Sat 5/27/2006 08:14AM
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Navin R. Johnson

Was not very impressed withthem at HS last year. Recorded their set and play it only for a good laugh. Standard issue Jamgrass.
" A plus B is definitely always equals C" What the hell is that lyric!
Needs work. Good Luck. Will try again this year.

MOhead starstarstarstarstar Sun 5/28/2006 03:12PM
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mblumenstein you are crazy! First off, Blue Turtle Seduction is not a jamgrass band, maybe at first listen they have some jamgrass elements, but they are not "jamgrass." Second, you sound as if you have only heard them once, my first show was less than 6 months ago and their sound has grown and matured vastly even since then. Finally, some of their lyrics can be a bit sily and their earlier stuff is a bit rough, but Jay Seals is IMO on of the best poets/songwriters to hit the circuit in a long time!

Great review Sam!! These guys will not let you down, get ready to dance!!

kestrel starstarstarstarstar Sun 5/28/2006 05:00PM
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This is a great description of the Nevada City show, which I was at. All the bands were incredible, and it was the absolute best Blue Turtle show I've ever seen (out of the 30 or 40 I've been to). I can't wait to see them open, close, and play a late night at High Sierra this summer!

foreverlovingshaw starstarstarstarstar Mon 5/29/2006 09:49AM
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nice work, sam.

these guys are one of the most original acts i have heard. it definitely alot more than jamgrass. their "tahoe adrenaline" is what sets them apart, along with sick musicianship. check out 1-27-06 or 5-15-06 on get out and see these guys any chance you have. you wont regret it.

BoboJeffie starstarstarstarstar Mon 5/29/2006 01:49PM
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That lyric that confuses mblum goes like this:
"You may live your life asleep at the wheel,
Never to realize the reasons you may feel.
Happy or sad, normal or bad,
Like a cow in a pasture left only to add.
That A + B must indefinitely always equal C.
For there you find your sanctuary in your routine."

Thats poetry man, sometimes words are elusive...especially for a song called "Government"
Just because a band uses 2 step and a fiddle does not make one 'jamgrass'. OTher than the fiddle, there aint much that is grassy about BTS.
I think this will be a very confusing thing for people to understand about this band.
Understandable that you could laugh at their music, grown ups might be almost frightened, but its the children who will easily have no fear with BTS. YOur inner turtle might be likened to your inner child. Nice coments and nice that you will try them again. Cheers!
I would love to see this show up on archive. someone...pretty please!!

The Glick Tue 5/30/2006 08:38AM
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The Glick

go see Home at Last with Sean Lehe and listen to the new Home at Last albumn. Fine guitar work!

bouldergarden starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/30/2006 06:28PM
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Great review Red !!....all three bands that night kicked ass. And thanks to the chef for the great eats n chocolate !
is BTS jamgrass?...I think they are currently beyond labeling...ok ok wacked out punkadelic whirling dervish music...I love it.

rowjimmytour starstarstarstarstar Wed 5/31/2006 04:30PM
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Another fine review by Redheaven!! If ya haven't gone to see BTS, ya better go see them now before they blow up. These guyz have the sound to take them up to the top notch in the jamband community. I am talkin' about arenas but I sure hell believe they well be playin' the Warfield, and mabey Radio City some day as soon as the East coast catches the fever. If ya don't believe me check out the recordings live of these guyz and it well make ya a fan instanly I guarantee.

sirsickness starstarstarstarstar Mon 6/5/2006 05:28PM
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I have seen this band a few times and they seem to be building up a lot of steam. The past few times I have seen them they have the crowd really drinking up the good-times laced kool-aid. Can't wait to see them in Colorado in August.