Twiddling Around at Red Rocks

Photo by Jay Blakesburg
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The jam band Twiddle was born in Vermont in 2004 and has been touring aggressively in recent years. The group's slated to play an upcoming concert at Red Rocks on May 2, where the musicians will be joined by regular tour mates and fellow neo jammerati Pigeons Playing Ping Pong.

Westword recently spoke with Twiddle's Mihali Savoulidis while the vocalist and guitarist was on his way to Philadelphia for a solo gig.

Westword: Did Twiddle start in Vermont?

Mihail Savoulidis: Yeah, I went up to Castleton State College from New Jersey. Ryan Dempsey, our keyboard player, is from Burlington, and we both met there. Our drummer and original bassist went to a local high school near the college, but it all started in Castleton for sure.

I think you might know The Samples, who spent their early years in Vermont before moving out to Boulder in the later '80s?

Yes, I definitely know the Samples. My wife's father helped them out with tour managing for a while. I've known Sean [Kelly] for a while. We keep in touch.

Are you mostly an instrumental band?

We have a lot of jams that don't have vocals for sure, but we have a lot of vocals, too. It's probably 70/30 vocals-to-instrumentals now. In a live show, we definitely take our jams out and get loose.

Do you do most of the singing?

Yes, and I primarily write most of the songs.

Do you do any covers, or is it all original music?

We do some covers. Sometimes we'll just come up with a cover that day, but we also have covers that have been in our catalog for a long while. We do "Mad World," the Donnie Darko tune, "Rocky Raccoon" by the Beatles, "I Want You Back" by the Jackson Five. "Funky Town." Those are songs we've been playing for a long time, and we'll sprinkle them in from time to time. We also do "D'yer Mak'er" by Led Zeppelin. The list is super long because there are a lot of covers we've just done once and then we never touched them again.

So the band got going in 2004?

Yeah, our first official show was in January of 2005, but before that we were rehearsing and writing together.

Have you only had one person turn over so far in the band?

Yeah, our original bass player Billy left in 2007. He wanted to go to Berklee [College of Music] and do some other stuff. The guy who replaced him, Zdenek [Gubb], is the youngest guy in the band. He had an interesting senior year of high school. He was playing shows with us in New York City and Boston and crashing on the spare bed in my room. Then his alarm would go off, and he would have to go to high school.

Where were you living at the time?

We had a big band house in a little town right outside of Castleton. Lots of parties, lots of music and lots of writing. It was fun. Summer of 2005, the whole band moved into that house. Now we're more spread out all over the state. Zdenek is the only one of us who still lives in the Castleton area. That area has gotten bigger since we were there. I don't even recognize the town of Castleton when I drive through it now.

So how long have you been on the road playing professionally as Twiddle?

Ten years.

How many times have you played at Red Rocks now?

This will be our fourth time there. The first time we played there was when we opened up for String Cheese Incident in 2015. And we opened for the Disco Biscuits another time. Then we were supposed to open for .moe, but that got canceled because one of their members got some kind of throat cancer. Last year we did it with a reggae band called Stick Figure. And this year it's with Pigeons.

Are you guys doing anything to ramp up for Red Rocks?

We got a lot of things planned. We're doing this TwidGeon Dwellers set. There's a bluegrass band Kitchen Dwellers playing. They're the first band playing. They are friends of our ours and Pigeons'. They're from Montana. They're playing, and then Pigeons is gonna have a set, and the last set of the night will be all three bands playing together as the TwidgeonDwellers, which is all three of us smushed together.

How'd you arrive at Twiddle as your band name?

We were just in the dorm rooms flipping through the dictionary looking for funny names. I knew that I wanted just a one-word name, and that's what we were looking for. The synonyms that went with Twiddle were a bunch of cool words like jiggle, chuckle, jump, squirm, stir. We thought the overall thing was approachable, so we went with it. People definitely remember it. At the beginning, they thought we were a bluegrass band and that it had something to do with the fiddle.

Twiddle (with Kitchen Dwellers and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong), 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 2, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, $42.50 to $75.

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