Recap: Mihali and Friends Bring the Heat to the Pickle Barrel in Killington, VT
Photos: Tammie Birdwell
The temps outside were well below freezing, but not a single person that helped pack the Pickle Barrel club in Killington, Vermont on Sunday night seemed to mind — and why would we? We were there to see Mihali do what he does best. And this time he brought a couple of new friends along for the ride.
The opening set was as delightful as it was unexpected. Before Mihali joined us for the evening, lead singer for the Whiskey Dicks, who also happens to be Twiddle’s sound engineer Sam Johnson took the stage. He warmed up the crowd quite nicely with his butter smooth voice and flawless guitar licks — he even delivered some exceptional looping action about halfway through the set.
After Johnson finished up, it was time for the main event. For set one, Mihali, the lead singer for Vermont-based jam band Twiddle, took the stage alone. He opened with “Beets and Greens” to the delight of every hard-core Twiddle fan in the Pickle Barrel and there were plenty of those.
Mihali is one of those musicians who is a complete package wrapped up in one human being. He is a master on that guitar and he has cultivated a sound that is distinguishable no matter who he happens to be playing beside. On top of that essential skill though, he is also a complete master at songwriting and he is a brilliant lyricist.
But that’s not all.
When Mihali plays alone, he uses a looping pedal. And while a lot of musicians struggle to keep the pace when they use a looper, Mihali makes it look simple. He is so good at it that if I couldn’t see him doing it I wouldn’t believe he was up on that stage by himself.
Mihali is such a beast alone, it made me wonder when I noticed the extra instruments on stage — could more people truly improve an already good situation? A few licks into the first song of set two answered that question for me with a quickness with a hearty and absolute yes they can.
Photo: Tammie Birdwell
Apparently, Mihali is as good at building bands as he is at all those other things. Let’s start with Scott Hannay who joined Mihali on keys and bass. Hannay is the former keyboardist/singer with Mister F/Wild Adriatic/Capital Zen — he also frequently sits in with literally everyone else too, most recently with Marcus Rezak.
At the beginning of his career, Hannay honed his skills by hosting an open mic night. He spent a lot of time making everyone and their brother sound good — no matter how good they actually were. The skills he built there have turned him into one of the most adaptable and expert musicians in the scene right now. And the fact that he can hop seamlessly from the keys to the bass and back again helps too.
Hannay joined Mihali for the entirety of set two along with Adrian Tramontano.
Also on stage for set two was Adrian Tramontano on drums. Tramontano has played with bands that include Kung Fu, The Breakfast, and Marble Eyes. Currently, you can catch him on tour with Marcus Rezak. Luckily for everyone in that room he had some time to join Mihali and Hannay on Sunday night.
Much like Hannay, Tramontano is clearly an adaptable musician who can play with just about anybody. But what really makes him stand out are his skills on those drums. He is an absolute beast with those sticks. He didn’t miss a single beat for the entirety of set two — not one. And if you are like me and you hear every missed beat you know that is an incredible feat.
The three expert musicians put on a show unlike anything I have ever seen or heard. They played a combination of covers, Twiddle songs, and even a track Mihali recorded with Matisyahu titled “Storm Tossed” — a song I had been chasing since it came out. The three of them together absolutely blew me away.
Sunday night was the fourth time this trio has played together in recent weeks. That incredible set of music with the three of them has many of us asking — could this be a permanent thing? Is there a chance that Mihali, Hannay, and Tramontano could be forming a new super-group as we speak? As far as I am concerned, if this happened it could be the best thing to happen for our music scene in years. We will just have to wait and see what happens in the coming weeks.
For now, you can relax and dream of this supergroup — and if you get very lucky, you can even catch them the next time they play. For sure, this is one act you aren’t going to want to miss.
Set One: Beets and Greens, Visions of Mohr, Burdens Blooming, Subconscious Prelude, Callin Baton Rouge, When it Rains it Pours
Set Two: All Day, Stubborn Smile > Don’t Push > Stubborn Smile, Maplewood, Plush (STP), Carved Lines, Every Soul, Living is the Lesson, Hypocrite, Sex and Candy, Soldier, Find My Way, Heart Song