Turtle Folk
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Turtle Folk

Savannah, Georgia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2003

Savannah, Georgia, United States
Established on Jan, 2003
Band Rock Jam




"Best of Savannah 2023 - Best Band"

TURTLE FOLK IS A FAMILY. From a basement to playing festivals in the Southeast, the band’s shows include lots of rock, lots of jam, lots of improv and a few surprises. Twenty years after the group started jamming in the summer of 2003, the band continues to add new originals and covers to their setlist. Influences range from Black Sabbath to Widespread Panic to the Beastie Boys, but Turtle Folk likes to keep audiences on their toes by throwing in a noodle or deep cut.

Members include Michael “Turtle” McCormick on vocals, Jamie Shanks on vocals and guitar, Joe Pelliccione on guitar, Zack Vogtner on bass, Sean Pelliccione on drums and James Gartside on percussion. Split between Atlanta and Savannah, gigs are also a time when the band gets together to catch up and for their ritual of writing a setlist. Being on stage is a joy to experience together and an opportunity to express themselves through music. They would probably play if nobody came, but it’s a lot more fun when people do, and the band feels humbled by it.

The musicians’ significant others are supportive and out in the crowd with the next generation of Turtle Folk, their kids, who are getting older and into music. Mark the calendars for a show on Sept. 22 at the Daufuskie Festival and Oct. 27 for a post-Widespread Panic show at The Wormhole. New music is on the horizon, with rumors of an album on the way soon. - Savannah Magazine

"Savannah: More Than Moonlight & Magnolias"

"A few blocks away, on Broughton St., the 300+ capacity Loco's (part of a growing Athens-based restaurant chain) has become the best place to catch organic rock and 'jam-friendly' local bands such as reggae/rock hybrid Passafire and the award-winning Turtle Folk, as well as rare solo sets from Perpetual Groove front man Brock Butler, plus major acts like The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Jason Isbell (formerly) of the Drive-By Truckers." - Georgia Music Magazine

"Turtle Folk play Saturday to support, honor friend"

Pat Williams' was an unexpected diagnosis.

"Something happened when the power went out during St. Patrick's Day," recalled Mike Connor, president of Locos Grill and Pub. Williams had been working at a local restaurant. After an accident when the lights went down, he was taken in for X-rays. That's where Williams, 28, found out he has alveolar soft part sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.

On Saturday, local band Turtle Folk will hit the stage at Locos in honor of Williams, a musician who has played alongside the band. Williams, who spends a lot of his time in Texas for treatment, may or may not be able to play alongside the band.

"He's a friend of the Turtle Folk group and me, and we've kind of grown up together," Connor said. "He's getting treatment in Houston, and he tries to come back here a lot. Hopefully he can sit in with Turtle Folk. He's hoping, but there's no guarantee."

Turtle Folk will donate a percentage of proceeds from the door to the "Help Save One Of Our Own" fund, and Loco's will add 10 percent of bar sales to the total. The proceeds will go directly to Williams, Connor said.

- Savannah Morning News

"Look at that Turtle go, bro"

A few months back, when our annual Readers’ Poll Issue hit the stands, many in the local music scene were surprised to see Turtle Folk named Best Local Rock Band.
That’s not because they’re not good at what they do. Far from it. However, the fact of the matter is that to date, the hardworking, dedicated, improv-heavy organic rock quintet has kept a fairly low profile. They play regularly in town, but usually in a stripped-down, quasi-acoustic format (as some of the band’s members live several hours away), and although they have released one self-financed record, it is only available at their gigs and at one small record store on the Southside (Silly Mad CDs,which specializes in regional roots-rock and jam music).
Heck, as far as I know, this may be the first substantial article of any sort that’s been written about the group.
And yet, despite the fact that they primarily play at only two local venues —the downtown locations of both Loco’s and Fiddler’s— they walked away with a title most folks assumed would go to a more mainstream act, or at least one with a bit more hype surrounding them.
The fact that they received more votes than any other local artists in that category is a testament both to Turtle Folk’s growing, enthusiastic fanbase, and to the notion of grass-roots support in general.
Truth be told, word of their victory took some of the bandmembers themselves by surprise.
“We were shocked and happy, of course,” says lead guitarist and backing vocalist Joe Pelliccione.
“There are some great bands here from all different genres. We’re honored that we can be considered a major part of the music scene in Savannah.”
Fellow lead guitarist and vocalist Jamie Shanks agrees. “We all were pretty excited (to find out we’d won). It is a good feeling to get recognized for something that you love to do. It doesn’t happen too often.”
Shanks says that recognition of this sort may not have had a tremendous effect on their hometown following, but it is certainly a boost when it comes to securing gigs out of town in markets where the band is not widely known.
“It definitely went on the front page of the press kit,” he continues. “We have been getting a lot of gigs at new venues lately, and I would venture to say that the award has something to do with it. We also consider it a great compliment.”
For readers unfamiliar with Turtle Folk, a brief history of the band:
The group evolved from the remnants of the now defunct high school project Wassaw Sound. That nascent, local jam-oriented trio featured future Turtle Folk members Shanks and drummer Sean Pelliccione. Eventually, Sean and Shanks began to collaborate with Sean’s brother Joe in Atlanta, and started to compose their own original material. With the addition of percussionist Ross Sparks (whom some may remember for his stints in the Greg Williams Band, Voodoo Soup and the S.C. act Red Moon), a solid quartet was formed. Then, during their first official Savannah gig at the now defunct JJ Cagney’s nightclub, they were joined onstage by guest vocalist Michael “Turtle” McCormick.
“Something just clicked,” says Sean, and by the Summer of 2004, they had added bassist Charlie Murray and brought McCormick on as a full member —adopting his college nickname as part of the band’s new handle.
Murray eventually left the group, and was replaced by bassist Zack Vogtner in September of last year. Since then, that five-piece lineup has been diligently working at crafting more original material, and expand the touring radius of the group — despite the fact that Turtle Folk is still essentially a part-time endeavour.
“Currently, we’re playing around four to five times a month on weekends and some occasional weekdays,” explains Joe.
“But, considering that we’re all spread out and that everyone works, that’s (actually) a lot. We’ve played as far away as Tennessee and Alabama. We’ve also played in South Carolina. We consider ourselves a regional band right now that plays the majority of our gigs in Georgia.”
Vogtner is quick to add that even without the benefits of established management or record distribution, the group has already enjoyed a fair amount of success on the road, and is steadily breaking into new markets.
“Some notable venues we’ve played have been the Pour House in Charleston; Andrew’s Upstairs and Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta; The Mission in Augusta; and on River Street for the St. Patrick’s Day celebration.”
He also cites the group’s appearance with Perpetual Groove frontman Brock Butler at the after party for P-Groove’s recent Jolly Foundation charity benefit shows at the Historic Roundhouse as a memorable event in the band’s history.
Loco’s on Broughton St. serves as something of a home base for the band — which makes perfect sense, as that restaurant and bar has taken great pains to step up and fill the void left by the closing of Cagney’s. These days, the overwhelming majority of blues and boogie-based jam-bands, psychedelic groove acts and roo - Connect Savannah

"Turtle Folk creates a dance party of enormous proportions!"

Smith’s Olde Bar will be jamming to Savannah locals - TURTLE FOLK. With a blend of Southern rock, organic techno, and psychedelic jam, Turtle Folk creates a dance party of enormous proportions! By taking cues from varying genres of music and expressing them in their own unique way, Turtle Folk lives in a musical environment that is ever-evolving and forever welcoming. Ripping guitar solos and a rock solid percussion tempo mesh together to create a soulful, improvisational boogie that will make you want to strap on your dancing shoes, douse yourself in Patchouli, and down a heady grilled cheese (with garlic, brotha!).
- Nolen-Reeves Music - Nolen-Reeves Music

"Dr. Dan Endorses Turtle Folk"

"Turtle Folk is my favorite up-and-coming band - I love these guys!"
- Dr. Dan Matrazzo (keyboardist for Dr. Dan Band, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, and Col. Bruce Hampton and the Fiji Mariners) - Dr. Dan Matrazzo

"Athens Banner-Herald "Best Bet""

"Savannah's Turtle Folk play 'Coastal Georgia Rock', a...psychedelic jam that changes with the tides." - Athens Banner-Herald

"Interview & Performance with Savannah Morning News"

http://savannahnow.com/do/localmusicnow - Savannah Morning News

"Unlikely Stories Online Magazine Music Feature"

The Savannah, Georgia-based group Turtle Folk could technically qualify as southern rock. It's true that you can hear bits and pieces of the genre in the lengthy, inventive-yet-organized "Sidewinder." You can also hear that same history and culture in "Let It Go." Both tracks establish a very distinct idea of what they're doing but what they can do if given the opportunity. Their energy hangs somewhere between a laid-back jam band playing that bar down the street on a late Saturday night and six guys who clearly have the necessary talent to get out of that bar and into the rest of the world. They'll get there. It's just a matter of time.

The somewhat limited musical landscape of southern rock is very much alive in these songs and others they've released. Turtle Rock knows this territory well and infuses its influence into the sharp twangs and swinging hooks found in many of their songs. Lead vocals and guitarist Michael McCormick has an accent behind his throaty voice that is likely right at home in states like Georgia or South Carolina. All of this is apparent, but there's a lot of other stuff going on with Turtle Folk when you get past the obvious. Their musical interests reach much further than just one particular style. "Sidewinder" is quite possibly the strongest tune in their arsenal to provide evidence of their varied-yet-focused ideas. The song is a calculated mix of that southern rock you would expect to hear, but there are also traces of blues closely followed by the kind of clean, sharp rock sound that usually does well on commercial radio. Some moments of the song even contain flickers of what could be best described as low-key metal. A lesser group would try to put all of this together and wind up sounding a little too busy. Turtle Folk never slips up. These are the kind of guys who have been working at their craft for more weekends than some artists pack into every day of their lives for years at a time. Not one second of their free time has been wasted, and not one moment in their work is used for anything less than their best effort as a group. Keeping this in mind makes these two lengthy tracks even more impressive.

"Saint Charles" is another song that could certainly help them along. It's one of their tightest, most striking examples of their current sound, providing a solid breakdown of their talent and even future promise in less than two and a half minutes. "Saint Charles" is clever enough to catch you by surprise as you head out of town on Friday afternoon for wherever you're going to be when the gas runs out. It shows up, makes for a considerable presence and then leaves with all the best parts still moving around in your head. It's the kind of song you wouldn't mind hearing a few more times. That's not an unintentional. The song is more careful planning from McCormick and the other five members of the band. Songs like this one should stand to serve them well as they continue to move forward. —GR

Turtle Folk says: "Turtle Folk is part southern rock, part organic trance, and part psychedelic jam band. By taking cues from varying genres of music and expressing them in their own unique way Turtle Folk creates a musical environment that is ever-changing. Hailing from Savannah, Georgia they incorporate ripping guitar solos, rock solid percussion tempo, thundering rhythm, and bold vocals that when blended together, creates a soulful and improvisational 'get down and boogie' sound that is all their own. It's downright Coastal Georgia Rock! We were honored to be voted Best Local Rock band by the 2007 Connect Savannah Readers Poll. Since then we have traveled across the Southeast from Florida to West Virginia.

"We're just trying to play/write music, entertain people, and ourselves. Any success we have during this period will make this easier and more convenient. Obviously we have the goals that most bands have at our level. But, most of all, we enjoy creating music with each other. We plan on making a new album next year with a tour to back it up. We hope we can branch out farther and play more music as we progress." - Unlikely Stories

"Interview & Performance with Savannah Morning News"

http://savannahnow.com/do/localmusicnow - Savannah Morning News


Yard Art (2006)
Higher Plan (2011)



The legend of Turtle Folk bubbles from the swampy underbelly of the Savannah, GA marsh. Originally formed as Wassaw Sound in 2000 (featuring Jamie, and Sean with Charlie Murray on bass), it wasn’t long before they began collaborations with Joe and Zack in the famed Upton Road basement in Atlanta, GA. It was here during these basement sessions where Spiderman, Turtle Folk’s first original composition, was born. A few years later, they were introduced to percussionist, Ross Sparks, and found the perfect marriage of drums and percussion. After a few weeks on the open mic circuit in Savannah, the band found itself playing its first real gig at J.J. Cagney's on July 12, 2003. That evening the band featured Joe on guitar, and guest vocalist Michael "Turtle" McCormick on a rendition of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer." There was magic that summer night - immediately the group added Joe and Mike to the mix and became known as Turtle Folk. To round out the current line-up, Zack joined the band full time on bass in 2006, and in 2016 James Gartside took over on percussion. 

Turtle Folk celebrated the release of their first full-length album, Higher Plan, in April 2011. The album was recorded at Elevated Basement Studios in Savannah, GA, produced by Kevin Rose (Gregg Allman, Stewart Copeland) and mastered by Brad Blackwood (Alison Krauss, Black Eyed Peas, North Mississippi Allstars). The album is now available online through iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, and DigStation.

Since then the band has gone on to play shows from Florida to West Virginia including a breakthrough performance at the 2011 FloydFest in Floyd, VA. The guys have also been a part of the Sweetwater 420 Fest in Atlanta, GA and the Hoopee Jam festival in Swainsboro, GA. Turtle Folk has shared the stage with Jason Isbell as well as members of Further, Joe Russo's Almost Dead, The Black Crowes, Drivin' n' Cryin', Spin Doctors, Aquarium Rescue Unit, Drive-By Truckers, Outformation, Perpetual Groove, Particle, Brothers Past, The Duo, Amfibian and more. The band was voted ‘Best Local Rock Band’ by the Connect Savannah Readers Poll in 2007 and "Best Local Jamband" in 2010. Most recently, Turtle Folk was awarded the title of “Best Band” in Savannah Magazine’s “Best of Savannah 2023” issue. Turtle Folk continues to gain momentum by playing electrifying shows that always leave the fans wanting more.

Band Members