Vermont group grows in popularity

Jon Zinter

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A local jam quartet took Higher Ground by storm on Dec. 28.

2014 was a big year for Twiddle both musically and commercially. Their improvisational blend of sounds, a genre that can only be called “Vermont music,” reached a larger crowd than ever this summer.

By adding new tour dates, including stops at big name festivals like Gathering of the Vibes and Summer Camp, Twiddle has seen their fan base swell.

Due to this increased popularity, dedicated fans have started to reach their 50th or even 75th show milestones. Frontman Mihali Savoulidis said that those fans deserved personalized shout-outs.

Twiddle’s improvisation and setlist variety skills has shown substantial improvement due to the experience that can only come from touring and creating strong member chemistry.

By the end of the year, Twiddle delivered six song sets filled with impressive jams at just about every show.

The second night of their run at Higher Ground was no slouch. Power funk wizards, Ray Paczkowski and Russ Lawton of Soule Monde, set the tone for a night focused on improvisation.

Soule Monde is pure concentrated funk. Paczkowski, who looks eerily similar to Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead, played the organ over Lawton’s drum beats.

Their instrumental grooves, including a tango, got the crowd moving immediately.

It was announced that Savoulidis had been married earlier in the day, which means he played a show both the night before and the night of his wedding. Twiddle was locked in and playing tightly from the start.

The first set started to heat up with a 14-minute version of “Syncopated Healing” that exploded into a euphoric guitar jam. The “Healing” jam is reminiscent of a Phish “Reba” jam.

It is anchored by a few repeated bass notes over which Savoulidis plays a solo that climbs to a beautiful peak.

The centerpiece of set one, however, was a 22-minute version of “Frankenfoote” led by keyboardist Ryan Dempsey.

The jam starts with a melodic piano solo, but about halfway through the full band joined in for some stunning interplay. It sounded like  Savoulidis and Dempsey knew exactly what each other’s next move would be.

Next,  Savoulidis took control of the jam and brought it to a fast peak before returning to the “Frankenfoote” theme flawlessly.

Set two was kicked off by drummer Brook Jordan with a rare “DJ BJ” jam, where he live mixed an electronic beat for the rest of the band to play over.

The highlight of set two was a heavily funky version of “Apples.” This 18-minute version has an organ-driven multi section jam and features Twiddle’s original bassist Billy Comstock. Jams like this never get boring to the crowd.

Faces were melted as usual.