Twiddle’s annual Tumble Down Festival will return to the band’s home state of Vermont for its fourth year on July 26th and 27th at Burlington’s Waterfront Park.
The two-day music festival will feature five headlining sets from Twiddle as well as performances by Stephen Marley, Turkuaz, Ghost Light, Kitchen Dwellers, Owl & Crow, The Juantee, Jaden Carlson Band, Nina’s Brew, and The Big Sip. The fun won’t stop when the party ends at Waterfront Park, as Higher Ground Ballroom will host official late-night shows including a special Grateful Dead-themed Everyone Orchestra set, “Everyone’s Dead,” led by Matt Butler on 7/26 and a collaborative Mihali & Frends performance led by the Twiddle guitarist on 7/27.
In preparation for this year’s Tumble Down, Live For Live Music’s Mikala Lugen had a chat with Mihali Savoulidis to discuss the history of the festival, the band’s involvement in the booking process, the annual charity disc golf tournament, recording new music, and more.
Live For Live Music: You just got back from Levitate Music Festival. How was that?
Mihali: Ah, Levitate was great, it’s one of my favorite festivals. I was stoked to be doing the Community Jam again this year.
L4LM: Yeah, you did that with some guys from Pigeons Playing Ping Pong right?
Mihali: Yeah, couple of guys from Pigeons, couple of guys from Stick Figure. It was pretty good.
L4LM: Nice, nice. I haven’t been, I’ll have to make my way over there. So, the fourth annual Tumble Down is coming up next weekend, July 26th and 27th. Can you tell me just a little bit about your original vision for Tumble Down?
Mihali: I really want to have kind of our own event. We had done the Maritime shows before, we really loved playing on the waterfront in Burlington. It’s just one of the most beautiful places to play and it really kind of captures Vermont so well. And we wanted to try and do something up there, Grace Potter has her Grand Point North Festival up there at the end of summer and we always loved the way she did it, so we were really hoping to kind of get something like that going and it worked out, of course.
L4LM: Nice, and then obviously you guys decided to have it in your home state of Vermont. Why was it important to you guys to have Tumble Down in your home state with your fans?
Mihali: It’s super important that we had kind of like a home base festival every year, mainly because we spend the majority of the year touring outside of Vermont. We really don’t play in Vermont, there’s not too many spots to play at. A few nights at Higher Ground, we used to do. But yeah, we really wanted to kind of make sure that we were giving the Vermont fans and a lot of the New England fans a chance to come see us where we live, plus it’s really nice to be able to drive home every day.
L4LM: Aww nice. The whole fam comes to the event, right?
Mihali: Totally. It’s a super family-friendly event, my whole family comes. A lot of our fans get to bring their kids, it’s an all-day thing. There’s no camping, so it’s kind of a destination thing. I think it’s a lot easier for families to do it.
L4LM: Yeah, absolutely. So, since this is your “home base” festival in Vermont, how much are you and the rest of the band directly involved in booking the music throughout the weekend?
Mihali: A lot actually, we definitely look at all the bands and put together the best lineup that we can. Anyhow, it all comes down to who’s available and who’s touring, who it makes sense to [have] up here around now. In the summer, there’s so many festivals but bands can only be in so many places at once. But yeah, it’s been fun for us, me especially, to kind of get a little bit more involved on the booking side of things, see how that whole thing works.
L4LM: What are some of your acts that you’re most excited to see this year?
Mihali: I’m really excited to see Stephen Marley. I really like his music and I got a chance to catch a little bit of it at Levitate. I’m also stoked to see Ghost Light. I haven’t really seen them and a lot of my friends are in that band and I’ve been wanting to check them out live for a while, so I’m excited for that.
L4LM: Do you think that there will be any room for any cool musical collaborations with Marley?
Mihali: I always leave that door open. We will for sure do our best to have some hangs and some jams around the stages for sure.
L4LM: That’s exciting! Twiddle has been touring a lot throughout the country, playing different festivals. Do you guys kind of take a different approach getting ready for your Tumble Down Festival sets?
Mihali: Yeah, we really try to think outside the box for our Tumble Down sets and sort of try to make it a stand-out set of the year, or one of the stand out sets of the year, which is not always so easy. After doing so many shows over the past 12+ years, trying to come up with new interesting ways to play the music together can be challenging. So we try and get the ideas rolling early and kind of weed out the ones we don’t think will work out and figure out what we think would be the most special show we can give to our fans in our home area.
L4LM: Absolutely. Can you recall one of your favorite, stand-out sets you played for your Vermont fans from the past three year’s at Tumble Down?
Mihali: Last year I think was maybe one of the more successful ones we did. It was called the “Orlando” set from our song “Orlando’s” from our last album. A lot of our songs are fictional, character-based. As we played the set, as a character came into the song, we would go into that character’s song. So, it was one huge sandwiched set of one song with lots of little songs in the middle of it. But, it was a big success, I think the fans really liked it. We released it on Spotify too.
Twiddle – Tumble Down 2018 (Live) – Full Album
L4LM: We’re excited to see what you guys come up with for this year! I also saw that the festival hosts an annual charity disc golf tournament for White Light Foundation. Can you tell me about how that got started?
Mihali: Well, the White Light Foundation sort of started through Twiddle, based on our song, “White Light”. And the lyrics inspired some fans at the time who started the foundation, and since then it’s done really great things. Usually with Twiddle, depending on where the show is at, and we’ll choose a local charity or two and raise money for them.
L4LM: That’s awesome. What are some of the things that White Light has done?
Mihali: A lot of it is auction-based and they raise money for different charities every time depending on where we are playing. If we were in Fairfield, Connecticut, we could be raising money for the afterschool programs [there] or something similar.
L4LM: That’s very humbling.
Mihali: Yeah, sometimes the band members choose what charities they want to work with or would like to see involved. We’ll auction off guitars, we have a partnership with Martin Guitars to some degree and we’ve auctioned off a bunch of Martin guitars for charity and DGN Guitars, the guys that built my custom guitars. We get to raise some pretty good money for a lot of different causes and it’s been really rewarding.
L4LM: Talking about getting involved, last year you guys hit the ball out of the park with getting fellow Vermonter Bernie Sanders onstage to introduce you. Why do you think it’s important for bands to get involved in the political sphere and get active in today’s social environment? Do you guys have any more speakers for this year?
Mihali: No, I’m not sure if we have anything planned. I know we have talked to Bernie a little bit, but yeah I guess my stance on the whole politics thing is that it’s really your choice whether you want to be outspoken or not. I think it’s really important that regardless of who you’re voting for, just making sure you get out and have your voice be heard. Especially young people, I see a lot of the young people are the ones that are the most upset and seem to be most unhappy with how things are but they’re also the ones that don’t vote as much. It’s nice having the youth getting out and doing that a lot more and getting that sort of mentality going because I think that’s what we really need moving forward. We try to work with HeadCount as much as we can, and they do a really great job. We just worked with them at Electric Forest and they said they got the most voter registrations they had done there ever.
L4LM: Wow. It’s cool that the music scene can help be a liaison and inspire fans and people to have their voices heard and get active and try to make things better.
Bernie Sanders – Tumble Down 2018
L4LM: Tumble Down is in the middle of festival season. What are some of your festival must-haves during the day?
Mihali: Well, got to have your refillable water, whatever it is. That is a huge must-have, especially if it’s hot and humid, so some bug spray as well. Towards the evening right on the water can get a little buggy, not like crazy but you don’t want to have a million mosquito bites the next day haha. Also bring your fun pants, or fun shorts, whatever you please. Maybe some rain gear, just in case.
L4LM: Has it rained at Tumble Down before?
Mihali: It only rained once, it was last year and it was actually kind of horrible because it was lightning and thundering, too. So we had to evacuate the whole site and it was really tough. It was tough for the fans, it was tough for us, everybody felt really frustrated. So, I hope that doesn’t happen again this year.
L4LM: I mean, yeah, but it happens. Raging in the rain is fun as long as there’s no thunder and lightning!
Mihali: Some of my favorite shows have been in the rain, for sure.
L4LM: So, we heard that you guys recorded some music in a castle in Colorado. Can you tell me about that?
Mihali: Yeah, we did actually. It was more of demo recording session, just to write for the next record. We got a bunch of stuff done. … We pretty much just took over this little castle for a week and brought all our gear and recording equipment and just started writing, coming up with ideas, recording them, listening to them, seeing what we liked, and putting together songs. We would work on a song, finish it, feel good about it, move on and work on another one and jam. We just felt it out and tried to come up with a vibe and a style and a sound for this next record. … We got some songs finished and I really like what we wrote and I look forward to doing the next session. Then, hopefully, we’ll get working on the record.
L4LM: Wow, well that’s sweet. Definitely a cool location to do it at, too.
Mihali: We haven’t ever done it that way where we really took our time trying to create a full body of work that is unique in its own kind of thing, so I’m excited to see how it goes, and the music we wrote I really like. So I’m excited to kind of continue on that way.
L4LM: Do you think that would be something that would come out next year?
Mihali: Not sure, one thing we did say is we don’t want to rush it, we wanted to just kind of do it on our own time and make sure that it felt right. We’ve written maybe four or five tunes, not even sure if all of them would even make the record, so we definitely still have some writing to do. We want it all to be sort of fresh new songs that nobody’s heard.
L4LM: Yeah, absolutely. Since Tumble Down is not a camping festival, what can fans do in Burlington when the festival music ends?
Mihali: One thing I think people forget but there’s a lot of after-show parties going on at Tumble Down and we try to fill Burlington with music. So, even though music at Tumble Down ends around 10 p.m., Nectar’s is full, and I do a Higher Ground thing every time, and Everyone’s Dead with Matt Butler and the guys are going to be there some of the other nights. Enjoy Burlington, go out and check out the scene. There’s so much cool stuff that happens in Burlington, so many good players. There will be no shortage of music and if you don’t get into one show, just go walk down to the next bar because there will be another really good show going on.
For more information on the fourth annual Tumble Down, or to grab your tickets now, head here.