New England quintet The Curtis Mayflower are no strangers to the Tweed River Music Festival. They’re regulars, in fact, who never fail to awe the crowd with their intense live performances. If you haven’t heard it, seek out their 2014 full-length debut Everything Beautiful Is Under Attack for a taste of their soulful brand of rock and roll.
Drummer Duncan Arsenault shares his perspective on the Tweed experience and introduces us to “Tweed Potato.”
You’re a Tweed veteran. Any favorite memories from years past?
There are so many great memories. There is something special about sharing a space with a large group of likeminded people that is very satisfying to your soul. At Tweed my friends are all enjoying each other’s company, but then you realize that you’re among so many other people and you are having this shared experience, it’s wonderful. The great music, the river, the environment, the weather (good and bad) is all something we share for a weekend. My wife and I celebrated at Tweed the weekend after we got married, the next year we brought our first born to Tweed when he was just a few months old. I also recall seeing Tim Gearan for the first time on the big stage and being awestruck. He and his band are something I look forward to seeing every year.
Are there any particular artists that you are particularly excited to see perform at Tweed this year?
I mentioned Tim Gearan and his band and I’ll say it again, they are great. No Small Children were amazing last year so I’m looking forward to them. Jesse Dee, is surely going to kill it. I had the opportunity to hear The Wiles recently and they are going to sound amazing echoing through the mountains. It’s all going to be great, I am always impressed with the level of talent that gets booked at Tweed.
Vermont is a haven for outdoor sports and activities year-round. Are there any outdoor sports/activities that you especially enjoy when you’re not working?
Haha. It’s a game we created at Tweed that you play in the river. (Ed.: Official rules)
What is your favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor?
Karamel Sutra, you got any? (Ed.: Cherry Garcia)
Do you think differently about festival shows than you do about regular shows?
I get excited to play festivals because of the opportunity to catch the other acts. I love the energy of so many people all gathering for a big event and it’s something that you just don’t get from regular shows. Behind the scenes there is always a lot of madness that is being organized and to be a small part of that is a great joy. The mechanics of putting together a festival, the vendors, the crews, the performers and most importantly the people there to enjoy it all is something I never tire of witnessing.
Tweed has always been a festival that is built around community. How would you describe the music community in your home town/town where you live? How has it, if at all, influenced your music?
You’re right about Tweed and I’ve always felt that the festival has done a great job of feeling like a smaller music community exploding in a big party for a few days. I’ve been going out to hear live music in Worcester since I was a young child and started playing out in clubs when I was a teenager. The music community there is something I’ve always been proud to be a part of. When I look at it as a whole I am blown away by just how much great music has been made there. I’ve met and played with incredibly talented people and I get to hear people I don’t know make great music as often as I want to. That’s all you could ask for isn’t it? Over the years, as my peers and I have gotten older, it has been harder to keep the sense of community that we all had in our 20’s. Festivals and big musical events have been a great way to keep us connected. The influence that Worcester has had on my music has been immeasurable.
How does “location” fit into your songwriting?
Any time I change my point of view, physically or mentally, creative juices begin to flow. Whether I’m thinking of a place that I’ve been, a place I’m at, or a place I’d like to go, one of those is always influencing the song.
Here are the Curtis Mayflower performing “Parselene” at Tweed back in 2013.
Tweed River Music Festival is less a showcase for bands and more a celebration of everything that great music embodies: the deeply personal link between artist and fan, the spirit of community and cooperation and, yes, the magical atmosphere of a great show in a stunning setting.
Set on a bucolic swath of land nestled between the Green and Northfield Mountains in the Mad River Valley in Waitsfield, VT, the 2015 Tweed River Music Festival will host more than 30 acts, including staples such as Bow Thayer, Tim Gearan, Andrea Gillis, White Dynomite and The Curtis Mayflower, while also welcoming Bloodshot Records recording artist Lydia Loveless, Vermont natives Waylon Speed and Alligator Records recording artist (and Boston native) Jesse Dee. Other great musical acts include Joe Fletcher, JP Harris and The Tough Choices, Caitlin Canty and ANTI Records recording artist Christopher Paul Stelling.
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.