‘Murder by Death’ helps heal wounds


Murder by Death returns to Lexington to perform on Sunday, Nov. 6 at The Burl with Twin Limb.

Dark, gritty songwriting will clash with classical undertones when Murder by Death makes the short trip down I-64 from Louisville this weekend for a Sunday night show at The Burl.

Murder by Death got their start in 2000 with guitarist Adam Turla, cellist Sarah Balliet, percussionist Alexander Schrodt, keyboardist Vincent Edwards, and bassist Matt Armstrong. In the time since the group has undergone lineup changes, losing Schrodt and Edwards and picking up Dagan Thogerson on percussion and David Fountain on piano, mandolin, banjo and percussion. 

Murder by Death has also released eight records in that time, the most recent being 2015’s “Big Dark Love.”

According to Turla, the group began playing just for fun, which quickly blossomed into playing in basements, rec centers and anywhere else that would book them. Turla recalled his first trip to Lexington in 2003 when the band performed in a YMCA center, adding that he never envisioned building a career off of music.

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“I think part of it comes from us coming from a very indie world where we never assumed there’d be any financial success or even liability,” Turla said. “Even the most popular bands performing when we started out only had a hundred people in the audience charging $8 a ticket.”

The record and music industry has evolved exponentially during the evolution of Murder by Death. In the current age of internet and social media, the band has adapted, joining independent label Bloodshot Records in 2012 and curating many Kickstarter campaigns for their own respective projects.

According to Turla, the band actually sold more records early in it’s life than it does now despite their following growing considerably over the last decade and a half. 

“We could be charting on the Billboard Top 100 for a couple weeks but the sales numbers are still low,” Turla said.

In terms of songwriting, Turla sees himself as a functional songwriter, preferring to write music that feels true to who he is while also having a positive, healing effect on people. According to Turla, he recently woke up one morning to two emotional emails from fans that left a lasting impact on him.

“One was of a father dying and the other was of a friend committing suicide,” Turla said. “They were talking about how specific songs of ours had helped them through their process of grief, and that’s actually something I’m looking for when I’m writing. Does this song do more than just entertain?”

Living a life engulfed in music has taught Turla many things, one of those traits being well-roundedness. Early in the band’s life, Turla acted as the group’s accountant and manager, and to this day he continues to work behind the scenes to keep fans happy and aware of how much the band appreciates their support.

“There are people whose names I recognize because they’ve been buying merch from our mail room for the last 12 years,” Turla said. “Being able to acknowledge those fans and say ‘Hey I know you – you’ve been supporting us a long time’ means a lot to us and makes you realize the value of customer service.”

Murder by Death are set to perform this Sunday, Nov. 6 at Cosmic Charlie’s with support from Louisville’s Twin Limb, who have been touring with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James as of late acting as his backing band. Tickets range from $15-17 and you must be 21 or older to enter.

Sunday’s show was initially slated to take place at Cosmic Charlie’s’ but was moved to The Burl after Cosmic was deemed not ready to open after recently moving to a new location on National Avenue.


What: Murder by Death with Twin Limb

When: Sunday, Nov. 6 at 9 p.m.

Where: The Burl – 375 Thompson Rd.

Tickets: $15-17, 21+