Twiddle is coming home

Photos Courtesy of Steve Perlah, Kevin Rondeau, and Rob Schmidt 

Imagine having a profession where you are always on the road. You move from city to city in a bus, each night going on stage in front of thousands of people and putting on a show for over an hour. After that, you hop back on the bus and move on to the next one.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have just one show where you can jam all night and then go back to the comfort of your own home and sleep in your own bed?

That may be tough for a band, but Twiddle, a jam band who formed right here at Castleton University, will have that opportunity when they come back to the Castleton area to put on a show where a couple current band members once sat in a classroom together.

Mihali Savoulidis, the lead singer of the band, will be performing just 20 minutes away from where his band was conceived over a decade ago.

“It’s such a cool thing. This is sort of where we started and it’s been years and years and years since we’ve played anywhere near there, so it’s pretty cool,” said Mihali.

Twiddle is coming to the Paramount Theatre in Rutland on March 28-29 to put on a two-night concert. The second night’s concert will be preceded by a VIP Q&A session and special acoustic performance.

Castleton University President Karen Scolforo, who reached out to the band to plan the concert, could not stop smiling when talking about the two-night event. She will be attending the VIP event on the second night.

“We wanted to bring them home, and frankly they wanted to come home,” President Scolforo said. “Events like this bring community together. We’ll have faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members all sitting together enjoying this Castleton band.”

But the concert is not just for the entertainment. It will also create and fund a new scholarship for Castleton students through the White Light Foundation, Twiddle’s partner non-profit organization. The White Light Foundation works with Twiddle to raise money for various charitable efforts.

The organization was incorporated as a Vermont non-profit in 2015. Last year, while working with Twiddle, they donated approximately $70,000 to about 50 different organizations across the country.

Scolforo said the new scholarship is 100 percent Twiddle and their non-profit organization’s doing.

“I’m really excited that they’re so committed to our students,” she said.

Steve Perlah, the president of the White Light Foundation, talked about how this event in particular is unique.

“With Mihali having attended Castleton and Ryan [Dempsey] being a Castleton grad, and Castleton being the place where it all happened, you know without Castleton Twiddle wouldn’t exist, we thought it would be great to create something that we could fund annually and give back to the community in a very specific, individualized way that matches with the history of the band,” Perlah said.

Twiddle hopes to give back to the Castleton community by creating this new recurring scholarship for Castleton students who are leaders, volunteers in the community, and strive for music education.

Kevin Rondeau, the band’s manager and chairman of the board for the White Light Foundation, talked about what this concert means to the band.

“We always knew we wanted to give back to the school,” Rondeau said. “To be totally honest, I don’t think that they’re really gonna know how impactful this is until they’re sitting in the theatre for the special VIP event, which hopefully will include some of the student body.”

Rondeau was referring to the Q&A session before the concert on Friday, March 29.

Savoulidis also brought up what this concert means to him.

“There are a lot of people that were really instrumental in the start of our band, and as we grew we sadly sort of grew out of the size of venues that were around [Castleton],” he said. “I think having those people back to see us and being able to play in front of those people again is gonna be really great.”

The concert truly is a homecoming event for the band.

Keyboardist Ryan Dempsey graduated from Castleton, while Savoulidis attended Castleton for some time. Drummer Brook Jordan is from Rutland, and Zdenek Gubb, the bassist, lives right near Lake Bomoseen.

It all started when Savoulidis and Dempsey had a First-Year Seminar class, Acting I, with professor Harry McEnerny. Savoulidis said McEnerny is “responsible for Twiddle.”

McEnerny met Savoulidis at registration, and he recalled Savoulidis saying that the reason he came to Castleton was because of the band Phish, another jam band that formed at UVM.

“He wasn’t even a student yet, and he already was a fantastic guitar player,” McEnerny said.

That year, the school musical was “Hair.” McEnerny asked him to be the guitarist for the musical, and he said yes.

Ryan Dempsey, who was also in that class, played the keyboard. He joined Mihali in the musical, which was essentially the beginning of Twiddle.

“When I hear Twiddle come on the radio, I can’t help but smile ear to ear,” McEnerny said. “They work really, really, really hard to get to that place, so I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

He, as well as President Scolforo and Castleton students, are ready for the concert. Senior Makayla Mecier, a huge fan of the band, recently went to Twiddle’s festival in Burlington, Tumbledown, and is also attending the concert in Rutland.

“I am so excited,” Mecier said. “I think it’s really cool that they are going to be performing in my home town at such a small venue so you can get a better feel for their music.”

For a homecoming concert, one which Ryan Dempsey says is a “full circle moment,” Twiddle is ready to put on a show. Savoulidis hinted at how special the night will be.

“I think a lot of people are gonna be really surprised with how we throw it down at the Paramount,” he said.


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