Frendly Gathering has become a fan-favorite music festival in the Northeast, with the event returning this year to Sugarbush Resort in Waitsfield, Vermont, from June 28th to 30th. This year, the long-running festival will host the return of Vermont’s own Twiddle, in addition to performances by Greensky Bluegrass, The Devil Makes Three, Nahko and Medicine For The People, Kamasi Washington, Trevor Hall, Emancipator, Kat Wright, Spafford, and many, many more. Highlighting the festival’s meticulous attention to curating a diverse, quality lineup, from top to bottom, its selection of artists in 2018 excels. (For more information and tickets, head to Frendly Gathering’s website here.)
Vermont’s homegrown jam gurus of Twiddle will be heading Frendly Gathering’s bill on Friday, June 29th. Furthermore, on Thursday, June 28th, the festival will host a collaborative performance featuring Twiddle’s Mihali Savoulidis and Nahko Bear of Nahko and Medicine for the People during a special headlining set. Plus, given the ties between Frendly and Twiddle, the festival is likely to see the members of the group sit-in across the weekend, like when Mihali sat in with Big Gigantic in 2016.
[Video: Frendly Presents]
The band has become a staple of Frendly Gathering over the years, with the members of Twiddle becoming close to the festival’s founders, pro-snowboarders Jack Mitrani and Danny Davis. Twiddle has grown with the festival, slowly rising the ranks of the jam scene as the festival has consistently expanded each year. Most recently, Twiddle has been gaining increasing renown for their ties with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh—Lesh and his son Grahame sat in with Twiddle during the band’s first-ever headlining performance at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and the next night, Mihali returned the favor, coming out to join Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band for encore.
[Video: Josh Woodby]
While Twiddle is a staple of Frendly Gathering, the festival’s headliners are primarily artists who have not previously performed at the lauded Northeast event. For example, on Saturday, June 30th, the boys from Greensky Bluegrass will make their debut at Frendly Gathering, closing out the event with their own headlining performance. The band has become one of the most famous and loved modern, progressive bluegrass acts in the country, with a rabid contingent of fans nationwide. Much of this comes from the band’s adventurous spirit and defiance of tradition, highlighted in their fiery improvisation and genre-spanning influences. In addition to their extensive songbook of originals, the band frequently incorporates tastes from other genres, crafting bluegrass-inspired renditions of songs from beloved artists like Phish, The Grateful Dead, Dawes, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, and many more.
Greensky Bluegrass – “When Doves Cry” –
Another headliner new to Frendly Gathering is Kamasi Washington, the contemporary jazz saxophonist, composer, producer, and bandleader. Washington is the face of a new wave of modern jazz artists, who have earned critical acclaim and reignited mainstream popularity for the genre. The depth and complexity of his sound is highlighted on albums like 2017’s audiovisual masterpiece, Harmony of Difference, and his sprawling 2015 effort, The Epic. However, outside of his own solo work, Kamasi has gained renown for his many collaborations, which range from sit-ins with String Cheese Incident and Vulfpeck at the famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre to studio work with Herbie Hancock, Thundercat, and others.
Kamasi Washington – “Street Fighter Mas”
While Frendly Gathering boasts an exceptional lineup of headliners—also including Nahko and Medicine for the People, The Devil Makes Three, and Trevor Hall—the festival truly shines with its collection of artists as a whole. The festival has pulled artists from a huge range of genres, ensuring that there’s a little something for everyone. With everything from jam to soul to electronic to funk and the many spaces in between represented, this year, the independent festival has curated a truly diverse lineup from top to bottom.
Kat Wright, the sultry and soulful songstress, will represent the local contingent, returning to the festival along with other regional acts like Twiddle and others, during her set on June 29th. Previously described as “a young Bonnie Raitt meets Amy Winehouse,” Wright has consistently astounded audiences with her powerful vocals. A captivating performer with a dynamic songbook, her catalog is rooted in soul though draws influence from good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll and funk, as well as less suspecting genres, like hip-hop and jam.
Kat Wright – “All About You” & “Come Dance” – Otis Mountain Get Down 2016
[Video: Otis Mountain Get Down]
Another exciting addition to Frendly Gathering’s lineup is Spafford, the Arizona-based jam act. In recent years, the band has witnessed a truly astounding rise within the jam scene—the group’s meteoric ascent is made all the more astonishing given that the group only recently began touring outside the Southwest, yet continues to sell out increasingly larger venues each tour. Best known for their immense improvisational abilities, Spafford has gained fans for their fearless and relentless jamming, setting themselves apart with their extended, unrehearsed jams that can span an hour in length.
Spafford – “The Postman” – The Fillmore – Detroit, MI – 2/4/2017
While Frendly Gathering’s lineup consists of many incredible live bands and artists, the festival has ensured that electronic music is represented. However, keeping in the lineup’s attention to musicality above all else, the festival has tapped Emancipator for a Saturday performance. Emancipator is one of the most lyric producers of our time, offering sonically rich, thoughtful, and complex tracks that range from downtempo and ambient to trip-hop and beyond. A musical mind through and through, Emancipator frequently works live instrumentation into his performances, inviting violinist Ilya Goldberg to tour with him in the past and forming his live band, Emancipator Ensemble.
Emancipator Ensemble – Red Rocks Amphitheatre – 5/27/2018
[Video: Jarrett Morgan]
With just a few of the many artists performing at Frendly Gathering this year, it’s clear why the lauded music festival has become such a staple of the Northeast. Its lineup boasts a staggering array of artists from a number of genres, tapping nationally renowned and critically acclaimed artists to head the bill. Moving down the lineup, there’s no sacrifice in quality, with the musicianship across all the artists on the bill sure to delight any music fan.
Frendly Gathering will return to Sugarbush (Mt. Ellen) in Waitsfield, Vermont, this summer from June 28th to 30th. The long-running, fan-favorite festival will host the return of Twiddle, in addition to performances by Greensky Bluegrass, The Devil Makes Three, Nahko & Medicine For The People, Kamasi Washington, Trevor Hall, Emancipator, Kat Wright, Spafford, and many, many more. For more information and tickets, head to Frendly Gathering’s website here.