Twiddle and Company Light Up Burlington’s Waterfront Park with 4th Annual Tumble Down
(Writer: Sam Luke)
Twiddle never ceases to pull out all the stops for their annual Waterfront Park event, Tumble Down, in which it truly feels as though the fans and community take over the City of Burlington, VT for a weekend of music, family, and shared reunion. This year, like the previous three, the weekends’ music was of the highest quality. Before we get into that, though, we have to “tip the hat” to the overall vibe that this event has created, and continues to create each summer. It’s one of the most inclusive settings in the music scene today, and you can tell this feeling is widespread by simply turning your head and seeing the goings on around you.
The weekend started out with Owl & Crow, the duo of JP and Pappy Biondo, who served as a perfect first course for the weekend. This set truly felt like the perfect introduction to the weekend, and handed off beautifully into Ghost Light. Tom Hamilton and his compadres tore through their set with precision and ferocity. This band listens to each other very well and continues to make strides every show they play. They have a strong onstage chemistry that is always a pleasure to see in music.
(Photo: Frankie Cavone)
Up next to bat on the side stage was Twiddle with a low-key acoustic set that offered up such classics as “Earth Mamma,” “Hattibagen McRat,” and “Hatties Jam>When It Rains It Poors.” It is always great to see them perform acoustic renditions of their treasured tunes which perfectly matched the mid-day relaxed vibe, and only further lent to the crescendo the bands were creating as the day moved forward. Stephen Marley was up next on the main stage sharing his fathers classics like “I Shot The Sherriff.” This set continued that slow build perfectly, followed by a strong performance by The Jaden Carlson Band. Jaden, at only 18, has so much style on the guitar. She’s an incredibly talented musician and has sat in with Twiddle at Nectar’s and venues of the sort at the age of 13.
(Photo: Frankie Cavone)
Up next was the band of the hour, Twiddle. The first offering of the evening was a powerful rendition of “Orlando’s,” which has in many ways become an instant classic. The lyrics, for those who aren’t familiar, describe an instance in which several of the “Twiddle characters,” i.e. “Frankenfoote,” “Carter Candlestick,” “Tiberius,” etc. meet at a bar. The song caters to the many, with a prog-driven compositional area, catchy lyrics and melodies, and a gorgeous solo section that garners the song a true eclectic blend. They picked away on this before dissolving into a version of “Amydst The Mist,” followed by a high-energy rendition of “Doinkinbonk!”
After wrapping up “Doinkinbonk,” the band took off into one of their most old-school and classically driven songs, “Grandpa Fox.” This was played with great accuracy and before finishing the tune, they unexpectedly changed course into a funk-filled version of fan favorite “Apples.” which featured a sit in from Todd Stoops. After Todd left the stage, the band shredded out “Mamunes The Fawn” and “Every Soul” before taking a set break.
The second set came out ripping with a shredding version of “Jamflowman,” in which the crowd had the pleasure of enjoying some new lyrics. This was followed by “Subconscious Prelude,” and on into a very dark, and droning version of “Nicodemus Portulay.” The heavy jam was accented by screams from the band and a torturous energy that could have scared those faint of heart fans in the crowd. There was “Colonel Norko Proector of the Gate Broadcast” amidst the song which went back into Nicodemus before moving its ways into the instrumental song “Milk.” The band closed the set with “Lost In The Cold” featuring local sax legend Dave Grippo. Dave always lays it down, and this was no exception. The band then encored with “River Drift,” and sent us all down the road feeling relaxed and fulfilled.
(Photo: Frankie Cavone)
On day two, The Big Sip were first to the plate on day two and catered to the early-day vibes with their blend of ambient, laid-back jazz with a smattering of the harder stuff. They were followed by a Twiddle community favorite, The Kitchen Dwellers, and their high-energy bluegrass. These boys really know how to turn a tune, and really hit the mark for this slot. This led us into the local band, Nina’s Brew, who will impress even the finest of vocalists with their gorgeous harmonies and songwriting.
Turkuaz took the main stage next and floored us with their high-energy funk. A highlight of the set was was Sammi Garrett-led “Tiptoe Through The Crypto.” They were followed by The Jauntee on the side stage. These guys truly do it all, and they do it all exceptionally well. The sound is reminiscent of Phish, with a slightly more jazzy touch, and a bit more soft around the edges. They really do a great job at blending genres to create a full-bodied and diverse performance, and as usual, they hit the mark and served as the perfect “opener” for Twiddle.
(Photo: Frankie Cavone)
Night two of Twiddle started out a bit slower, with a version of “The Fantastic Tale of Ricky Snickle,” followed by a beautiful version of “Syncopated Healing” featuring Jaden Carlson on guitar. This song really allows a lot of space for a guitarist to work, and Jaden knows what she’s doing with space. Her thought-provoking riffs paired with her powerful tone really sung out over the crowd and the lake behind them to create a truly special moment. We were treated to a beautiful version of Brook Jordan tune, “Machine,” before the band welcomed The Kitchen Dwellers on stage for their song “Visions of Mohr.” The Twiddle community really rallies behind this song, as well as this band, so it was a well-received and well-placed sit in that was enjoyed by all.
“Latin Tang” was up next, and the boys sent it deep, almost hitting the 20-minute mark. Twiddle bassist Zdenek Gubb went full in on the “Gubb Dump,” or bass solo, starting out with some slow, sexy funk that would eventually build in speed before breaking back down into a filtered funk section that had the whole place stomping. Brook followed along with strength, as he always does – you can really tell these two are former roommates when you hear them tackle a duo section together. The band closed out the set with an admirable rendition of “Beethoven and Greene.”
(Photo: Frankie Cavone)
The second set opened with “Polluted Beauty” and a Zach Nugent (Melvin Seals and JGB) sit-in. Zach led the charge on lead guitar, offering up his signature tone and sensibilities before breaking down into a chunky, funk-driven section. Mihali took the back seat on rhythm while Zach found his way into a subtle tease of Beatles’ classic “Eleanor Rigby” that happened very quickly. This jam really nestled in and found some serious tempo, all the while being nuanced with some striking and slippery synth-moves by keyboardist Ryan Dempsey. Mihali and Zach worked together to build up the tension before finding a more reflective, low-key section which worked its way back into the songs ending and chorus.nUp next was “Gatsby The Great,” a long-time go-to of mine in the Twiddle repertoire. Gatsby was followed by a quick version of “Zazu’s Flight,” that segued seamlessly back into the end of Gatsby. One of the stand outs from Night 2 was that they very gracefully found their way into the ending of “Grandpa Fox,” a tune which had been unfinished on night one. They wrapped up the old-time classic before closing the set with “Be There” and taking a brief encore break.
During the encore break, a pre-recorded track came on in which gave the “origins” of the song “Frankenfoote.” Frontman Mihali Savoullidis’ voice echoed out over the crowd and created a somewhat ominous feeling before the band re-entered the space to play their marquis tune, “Frankenfoote.” It was truly a perfect way to wrap up the weekend.
We also want to take a moment and highlight the incredible work done by The White Light Foundation, a Twiddle-inspired non-profit that continues to put in the effort, and outdo themselves around every corner, where they continue to raise funds for a multitude of worthy causes. This year, they were raising funds for 3 organizations on the frontlines of the opioid crisis – The Howard Center, The Turning Point Center of Chittenden County, and the NICU at UVM Children’s Hospital. Through the hard work of community members who orchestrate such events as the Wampahoofus Charity Disc Golf Tournament, provide artwork for pins, posters, as well as partnerships with such admirable companies as Fiddlehead Brewing Company and Martin Guitar, The White Light Foundation is able to continue providing donations that give back to the communities in which Twiddle plays, and that’s pretty rad. All of this, of course, would not be possible without the band and the people who love it.
Beyond the music that happened in the Waterfront Park, there was a multitude of late-night goods to be enjoyed that allowed the party to rage on into the night. Such artists as Mike MacDonald (Strange Machines,) lespecial, Cycles, Eggy, “Everyone’s Dead” with Matt Butler, and Mihali and Frends catered to the thousands and brought a flavor matching everyone in attendance.
All in all, this years Tumble Down was nothing short of impressive due to the work of all the artists, musicians, and people behind the scenes who helped cater to the fans in creating a unique and memorable experience.