Pittsburgh Gets TwungFiddled
Rex Theater – Pittsburgh, Pa.
April 10, 2015
Review by Laura Beth Miller
Photography by J William Taylor Hott
Kung Fu and Twiddle’s Dirty Dozen Tour made its sixth stop at Pittsburgh’s Rex Theater on April 10, 2015. Though both may try, neither words nor photos can truly capture the magic that was made that night. The two bands bring together incredible musicianship to co-create an out-of-this-world musical experience, blowing the minds of jam and funk fans alike. In the words of Pittsburgh taper Steve Toney: “These are the nights jamband music lovers live for!”
The crowd was buzzing with an aura of celebratory excitement. A long line of anxious fans braved the debauchery of Pittsburgh’s South Side as they waited for the Rex’s late Friday night show. Inside, we waited, each of us expecting an incredible show, but none of us really knowing the extent of the awesomeness in which we were about to partake – unless they’d made the two and a half hour drive to State College, Pa., the night before when the tour stopped at Levels Night Club – which you know many (smart) people did.
The Pittsburgh show kicked off just after 10:30pm, with the drummers of both bands taking the stage to begin. Adrian Tramontano of Kung Fu and Brook Jordan of Twiddle banged it out together, and were then joined by the bass guitar players of both bands, Chris DeAngelis of Kung Fu and Zdenek Gubb of Twiddle. Kung Fu’s Todd Stoops and Twiddle’s Ryan Dempsey on keys found their way into the funky mix, then Robert Somerville of Kung Fu on tenor sax, and finally, both band’s guitarists, Tim Palmieri of Kung Fu and Mihali Savoulidis of Twiddle.
For me, it was an unforgettable moment when they were all finally on stage together, creating an epic blend of musical magic. The energy hit the crowd hard and the funky jam party that ensued didn’t end for another three hours. The first superjam together lasted for 17 minutes, with each member of Kung Fu gradually making his way off stage, until only the Vermont-based foursome Twiddle remained.
Twiddle jammed so hard. Mihali rocked out on his incredible guitar and serenaded us with his distinctive vocals. Gubb was incredible on the bass, keeping heads bobbing and hips moving all night long. Ryan’s skills on the keyboards kept the crowd’s feet moving, and Brook kept the beats steady, killing it on the drums.
According to the awesome folks of utwiddle.net, “Brown Chicken Brown Cow” featured Todd Stoops on keys. Mihali broke a string during the jam which led to a Gubb led guitar-less jam. The song also contained a Beatle’s “Norwegian Wood” tease.
The members of Kung Fu began to rejoin Twiddle on stage once again during a super funky cover of the Ghost Busters theme song that the crowd got seriously down to. The four members of Twiddle eventually transitioned their way off stage, leaving Kung Fu to work their own magic.
Kung Fu’s set was super high energy funk genius. The band plays jazz funk fusion and is appropriately named: “They are musical martial artists,” commented one Pittsburgh hippie in a sweet geometric tie dye. Twiddle’s Mihali and Ryan sat in during Kung Fu’s set for the last song “Hollywood Kisses.”
Both bands took the stage for a final encore. An insane “Helter Skelter” cover featured Kung Fu’s Tim Palmieri on drums and Adrian Tramontano on lead vocals and guitar. The musical magicians blew it out of the water with a final cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias.”
Brick of Barley >
Beehop > Son’s Gonna Rise > Beehop > The Joker > Beehop
Brown Chicken, Brown Cow
Standing On the Verge of Getting It On
Steppin’ It In
You Haven’t Done Nothin’
Twung Fiddle Encore:
The April 10 show at the Rex Theater was pure magic. All of the individual band members are incredibly talented musicians, and the two bands blend their music so well, creating a super groovy dance party that was described by one person as “unfuckingreal.” The crowd was all smiles and hugs all night long as they gave in to the music, everyone bobbing, twirling and grooving about.
Pittsburgh taper extraordinaire Steve Toney recorded the show, which is available for free streaming and download at https://archive.org/details/twungfiddle2015-04-10.m934b_16bit.
Dirty Dozen Tour
Both stellar and sublime, the collaboration between Twiddle and Kung Fu takes the energy level to new heights. “I really wish more bands did what they did tonight,” commented one wide-eyed concertgoer after the Pittsburgh show.
Twiddle’s bass player Zdenek Gubb told Appalachian Jamwich that the two bands have wanted to do a collaborative tour ever since they first met. He said getting everybody on stage playing together has been easier because everyone is incredibly open minded and understands that they’re all on the same team.
Gubb was asked how he feels after playing a show like the Pittsburgh one: “Every time I get on stage, especially with these guys, I get this incredible adrenaline rush, maybe more than if it was just us. I always get excited before we play, but with Kung Fu, they’re our good friends, we look up to them, and they are always pushing us to be better and better. So I’m actually ready to get back up there now!” he said.
The Dirty Dozen tour continued to Baltimore, Md., on April 11, Richmond, Va., on April 12, Greensboro, N.C., on April 14, and makes its final stops in Charlotte, N.C., on April 15 and Atlanta, Ga., on April 16.