Northlands Fest includes Twiddle farewell
This year the Northlands Music & Arts Festival’s two main stages offer established acts like The String Cheese Incident, Mike Gordon of Phish, Twiddle and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, along with a few interesting side projects.
One is Goose spinoff Oreolo; another is Super Sonic Shorties, an all-female supergroup with Nikki Glaspie and Kanika Moore (who perform separately with Nth Power and Doom Flamingo respectively), Katty Rodriguez and Marcie Chapa of Beyoncé, Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio), Ella Feingold (Silk Sonic) and Amy Bellamy (G. Love).
A campground stage kicking off Thursday night is sold out, but area fans can see two of the acts next month, as Funky Dawgz appear July 1 at Jimmy’s Jazz in Portsmouth, and Bella’s Bartok play Exeter’s Word Barn the same day.
One big piece of news surrounding the festival is Twiddle’s plans for a touring hiatus at the end of the year. The Vermont jam stalwarts will do two Friday night sets. On Saturday their singer and guitarist Mihali plays solo, with surprise guests.
Mihali spoke with The Hippo in a recent phone interview (edited for length).
What does it mean to you that 2023 will be the end of touring?
It’s just a break mainly for reflection, for me to do some other stuff musically. It doesn’t really feel too much different … maybe some people look at it as like a closing of the first chapter, but I’m looking forward to the future, and the future of Twiddle when we decide to come back as well.
How does your solo music differ from what you’ve done with Twiddle, and where do you see that going?
The instrumentation and the type of players are different. I’m a lot more focused on the song rather than the jam with this next project, which is something I’ve been passionate about over the last few years.
The Distance Makes the Heart Tour is named after a track from Twiddle’s last album. Does its name reflect the song’s emotions?
There wasn’t too much of a direct correlation … I think I just liked the fact that we had the song out and we’re going to be taking a little distance. I think for me it was a little bit of a metaphor. I think I speak for a lot of people in our organization that a bit of a break is necessary right now. All we’ve been doing is Twiddle for 20 years, and I think it’s only natural to want a break, and, you know, distance makes the heart grow fonder.
When you started Twiddle, did you have ambition or were you surprised by how it took off and became so big?
When you’re in it you don’t really realize that’s what’s happening. To me, it just felt like growth, and it just felt like it would always just continue to grow. It wasn’t like now we’re hitting our stride or we’re blowing up. It felt like a natural progression … honestly, I didn’t pay too much attention to how fast we were moving. It’s just all we knew…. So it just kind of just felt normal for us, I guess.
And then one day you and moe. were selling out Red Rocks.
Red Rocks was a huge goal I had set early on for myself as a performer. So getting there was really a blessing. It’s always a blessing to play that stage. I don’t think that’s anything I’ll ever take for granted.
What are some of the other things that stand out for you?
Looking back over 18 years as a band, I mean, there’s been so much, it’s hard to tell. All the Lockn’s were great and every amazing opportunity we’ve had has been a memory we will all hold forever. It’s hard to nail down a few because there’s been so many beautiful musical moments. It’s been quite a journey. I look forward to what the future brings too. We’ve got a lot more to offer people; it’s certainly not the end.
How did this decision happen? Were you all just sitting around saying, wow, I’m tired, it’s time to take a break?
It’s just the natural way of things. I think that it’s only natural to have change in your life. Change is good for growth, and reflection. I personally just felt that that was necessary.
One of my favorite moments on Every Last Leaf was the jam with John Popper. What was that experience like being in the studio?
John’s great. He’s a buddy of ours. We’ve done a few shows with him over the years. I’ve sat in with Blues Traveler and opened for them a couple of times as well. John’s an incredible musician and such a great presence to be around always, but that was all recorded during the pandemic, so everything was done remotely. We weren’t actually in the studio with him when he cut his parts.
Is there anything that didn’t happen, any bucket list items that are still in the bucket?
No, just new music and more shows, hopefully some growth, it’s all you can ever ask for. We’re really blessed with such a great fan base and such a beautiful community around us. So, you know, just continue to move forward, healthy and happy. That’s all I can really ask for.
Anything I haven’t asked about that you’d like fans to know?
No, just come join us. Have a great time. I’ve got a lot of great friends playing with me at Northlands. Make sure you check that set out. I got a lot of fun stuff to bring for you. We have a lot of good shows left this year. We hope everybody comes out and checks them out. We’re playing really well.
Northlands Music & Arts Festival
When: Thursday, June 15, through Saturday, June 17 (camping pass required for Thursday music)
Where: Cheshire Fairgrounds, 247 Monadnock Hwy., Swanzey
Tickets: $25 to $299 at theticketing.co; lineup at northlandslive.com
Featured photo: Twiddle. Courtesy photo.