Catskill Chill: Where Young Bands Come to Grow Up

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The 2015 incarnation of the Catskill Chill Music Festival may serve as a farewell to host site Camp Minglewood, but since its inception, the festival has really been a big introduction to new music and groups, while also bringing in established bands that many people know.

For instance, this year’s lineup features moe., Lotus and Zappa Plays Zappa as the headliners, while groups such as the Motet, Lettuce and Electron also support the bill. Just like all festival flyers, the headliners get the most ink, while the font size shrinks with each passing line.

Twiddle
Twiddle

Enter Twiddle, on the fourth line of the Chill’s flyer. Just three years ago, it seemed Twiddle was a name at the bottom of so many festival advertisements. Yet, now, the group from Vermont has risen steadily up to headlining smaller festivals such as Disc Jam, while throwing down what band members describe as one of the best sets the group has ever played at this year’s Bonnaroo.

At the Chill last year, Twiddle played a normal set, and a Grateful Dead set, the latter being one of the most well-received sets in the history of the festival. Since then, Twiddle has exploded, headlining tours and playing venues such as Red Rocks in Colorado.

“One tidbit I often appreciate about our fest is what is great about a lot of small-to-medium size fests, which is how great it is to hear bands who are still in the early stages of their career on the main stages and in prime, night time slots,” Catskill Chill organizer Josh Cohen said in an email.

He went on to specify about Twiddle: “For instance … Twiddle. Twiddle always plays daytime sets at larger festivals, even have at the Chill the last couple years actually, but their Dead set was at night. Anyway, (they’re playing a late-night Dead set this year) and I’m pretty sure that’s going to make a lot of Twiddle fans very happy (including me!).”

This kind of exposure can do wonders for a band, especially in the jam band scene, where people listen with the most open of ears.

Just ask Ryan Dempsey, keyboardist from Twiddle.

“Last year at Catskill was one of my favorite Twiddle sets. Ever,” Dempsey said. “I thought we were all very connected and we had the privilege to have some of our mentors and favorite musicians from the scene sit in on our songs with us.

“It was also the debut of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hats idea that took on as a fad even after Catskill.”

That statement says a lot about just what the Chill has done for Twiddle. In the last year, every Twiddle show is littered with fans wearing Ninja Turtles hats, shirts and even full-on Turtle costumes. It also helps that Twiddle has one of the most dedicated young fan bases in the entire scene.

Mihali Savoulidis, guitarist for Twiddle, summed up his thoughts on Catskill Chill in a few short words.

“Bottom line is Catskill creates a super creative environment that I believe all the artists can feel and feed off of,” he said.

This year, Dopapod and Turkuaz are collaborating on a late-night set that Cohen referred to as Dopakuaz, saying this type of community mindset is what sets the Chill apart from other festivals its size or bigger.

“Point is that when comparing us to larger festivals, we’re at this cool stage attendance-wise where in many band’s cases we have the best ‘music’ out there in our prime slots,” Cohen added. “I love tons of bands who’ve been around since the ’90s or earlier but there’s nothing like seeing musicians in their youthful stages, when creativity is just exploding and you can feel it dripping off the stage as opposed to later-in-their career bands who are playing mostly songs they first wrote and fell in love with decades earlier.”

Dempsey echoed that sentiment: “They are a great ally of ours and have helped us play in front of new and old fans. They have a strong and professional staff and crew along with a lot of great music and people.”

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Camp Minglewood has a unique setup which allows attendees to rent cabins if the traditional tent-style camping is not wanted. Savoulidis closed his interview by summing up not only Twiddle’s experience at the Chill, but also spoke for fans, calling it one of the best festivals he has had the opportunity to play.

“Catskill is one of our fans’ favorite festivals,” he said. “It gives them the opportunity to see us play and interact with our fellow artists in an incredibly unique setting. The way that Minglewood is set up provides a very cool experience for both the festival goers and the artists. I believe this is our fifth Chill and each year is better than the last. Our career has grown as the festival has and it’s usually the last one we do of the season so I think whenever we play at Minglewood all our creative juices are primed from a long summer of shows enabling us to come up with some really strong performances. This year should be no different.”

If hearing these words from the Lion’s mouth got you as pumped as I did writing this, clear your weekend plans and get yourself to the Lion’s den. It’s an experience that cannot be recreated anywhere else.