Tumbledown was an incredible weekend of music, delivering countless excellent and unexpected moments. Upon arrival, the buzz of energy and anticipation in the air was strong. Sunshine, happy faces and eager ears covered the expanse of the Burlington waterfront.
The first day started out with a few solo songs with Mihali, followed by an incredible set by Annie in the Water, which was a total surprise. The Kitchen Dwellers were originally in place to kick it off, but had a delayed flight, so Annie In The Water filled in on the spot. This ended up being a blessing in disguise, as the Kitchen Dwellers played at Higher Ground later in the evening, before Cabinet – we got the best of both worlds! Annie in the Water really started it off right with a mellow, jam/rock, reggae vibe. Up next came Turkuaz, a funky super-group that really lay it all out, featuring tunes from their most recent album Digitonium (2015). They drew a large crowd, which they amped up with their high-energy performance – a perfect opening for Twiddle’s first set of the evening.
Twiddle tore up the stage for the first night of their event, leaving their fans wondering how it could get any better. They played some of their older tunes starting with “Blueberry Tumble,” “Brown Chicken Brown Cow” and “Amydst the Myst.” They finished off the first set with a few excellent tunes from their 2011 album, Somewhere On The Mountain, “Wescotton Candy,” “Beehop” and “Honeyburste.” The second set opened up with several of their newest songs which are heavy jams, “Fire on High,” “Blunderbuss” and the classic “Tiberius” followed by another new lyrical favorite, “Every Soul.”
Twiddle then played “Beethoven & Greene,” which led to a super connected interaction with the crowd, where, what seemed like the entire crowd echoed back the chorus: “Somewhere on the mountain they say that there’s a potion, that makes you truly happy and infinite in wisdom. It makes you shine as bright as the sun do shine, Keep your life doing right and your mind being kind, If your heart is true and your heart is pure, then this won’t undo the potion will endure in you.” They finished the second set off with a few more older tunes, and a classic cover, “Carter Candlestick,” “The Catapillar,” and an extra special version of “Funkytown,” joined by members of Turkuaz who belted out, “Won’t you take me to, Tumble Down?”
Topping off the day of amazing music, was the after-shows which included Pigeons Playing Ping Pong with a sit in by Mihali at Nectar’s, and the ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ at Higher Ground. The Kitchen Cabinet show turned out to be an incredible surprise. First the Kitchen Dwellers played a set, followed by Cabinet. Then the two bands came together for their first ever collaboration. The chemistry between the two bands was undeniable, and they had everyone in the crowd stomping and dancing. This was the perfect way to end the first night of Tumble Down.
Besides the array of musical experiences offered, Tumbledown also featured some other treats, such as the ‘Wompahoofus,’ a disc golf tournament held by the White Light Foundation, which donates proceeds to charity. There were games scattered throughout the waterfront such as corn-hole, frisbee, and even a squirt-gun powered boat race station. There were many excellent vendors, and even an art show hosted by PhanArt which was held at Club Metronome throughout the day. This was a good way for fans of the music to showcase their artwork, and make connections – the turnout was great, and the line at the door when they opened up it continued to grow.
Day two began with a yoga class in the beautiful sunshine. Cabinet started off the music, bringing their deep bluegrass, Americana roots sound. The vibe they created was just right for Nahko & Medicine for the People to follow. MFTP’s set was another super high-energy show, featuring songs off of their most recent album Hoka (2016). A request to the crowd for the cultivation of presence together, and grounding into the space in silence was made and Nahko then led the band into the songs “Directions,” “Make A Change,” “Love Letters to God”and “We Are on Time.”
Nahko truly left an imprint on the crowd with the message he brought through the music during this set. Observing the onlookers, it was easy to notice that even the security guards were listening with a little deeper curiosity. Towards the end, Nahko invited Mihali on stage to play guitar alongside him during “Wash Away.” There was also a guest vocal appearance by singer/songwriter Madison Pruitt. These two bands really got the crowd riled up for Twiddle’s upcoming show.
Twiddle shocked the crowd even more this set, with the biggest surprise of the weekend. They played mostly classic songs off of their first two albums, throwing a few new ones in here and there. They started off with “Subconscious Prelude,” doing what they do best – shifting from one jam into the next, into “Earth Mama” > “Brick of Barley” > “Daydream Farmer” > “Indigo Trigger” and back into “Subconscious Prelude” to finish it off. The first set finished with their rendition of “Best Feeling” by Keller Williams, with a little tease of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.”
Holly Bowling took over for the setbreak, doing another ‘Tweener’ set, and then was invited to stay on stage for the beginning of the next. That’s when the big surprise came. The crowd could never have seen it coming. They started the second set with “Hatti’s Jam” – at this time I was over by the waterfront enjoying the tail end of the sunset, and I heard them shift into “When It Rains It Poors.” At that moment, I started feeling drawn to the stage, as that song typically does to most Twiddle fans. As I approached, I saw that Page McConnell from Phish had joined Dempsey on keys for “WIRIP.” Unexpected, unannounced to the crowd – the keys of Phish came onstage to sit in with Twiddle. The crowd was a sea of smiles, and all I could think was what an incredible and completely shocking moment. Truly a triumph for Twiddle, being life-long fans and deeply inspired by their music. After this, the vibe was electric. They ripped through a few songs I’ve heard them play many times, but with a new luster: “Dr. Remidi’s Melodium” and “Grandpa Fox,” into a new crowd favorite “Lost In The Cold” and finishing with “Wasabi Eruption” and “The Box.”
And again for the second night, it didn’t end there. Finishing off the weekend full of amazing musical acts, was ‘Mihali & Frends’ at Higher Ground. This was a super cohesive collaboration, with Nahko Bear on keys and vocals, Justin Chittams on drums and Mihali on acoustic and vocals. After a few songs, they were joined by Tim Snider on the fiddle who really tore up the stage with his presence. As the night went along, Mihali invited musicians from the previous day’s acts to join him on stage. Zdenek joined on the bass, then from the Kitchen Dwellers, Shawn Swain on mandolin and Torrin on banjo and vocals, and eventually Joe joined in swapping out with Zdenek.
Brook Jordan and Ryan Dempsey also switched out with Justin and Nahko, coming full circle throughout several others coming and going from the stage also including Lowell Wurster from Lucid on vocals, harmonica and the washboard. At one point, Mihali re-joined the stage -after giving a guitar solo to the man who builds his guitars-and picked up the mic to MC and freestyle, shifting into a song that he created on the spot about Tumbledown. It was an incredible late-night show of revolving musicians. The best part, is that it was not rehearsed at all and it seemed as if they had all been playing together for years. To be able to pull off a show like that, is much more than a feat. It was an incredible array of talent joining forces, all put together by Mihali himself.
The fact that this was Twiddle’s first big event, must have played a role in how well they played, because in the past eight years that I have experienced the pleasure of watching them grow as a band, this was by far the best I have witnessed yet. They were really interactive with the crowd, and it felt interconnected on a level that allowed for the vibe to rise and expand throughout the entire atmosphere over the span of both days. Stay tuned for a larger photo gallery coming soon, featuring coverage from the entire two days.