Longtime Twangville fave Joe Fletcher makes a return visit to Tweed for this year’s festival. Although he now lives in Nashville, the former Providence, RI resident is a familiar – and welcome face – around New England. That applies to Twangville as well, where our posse selected Fletcher’s You’ve Got the Wrong Man as our favorite album of 2014.
Fletcher took a few moments to talk with us about Tweed’s past and present and his early musical years in Providence. He also leads us to believe that there will be a pick-up Wiffle ball game at this year’s festival. Count us in.
You’re a Tweed veteran. Any favorite memories from years past?
My first year, the organizers set up a makeshift recording studio in the band house behind the stage. Well into the night many of the musicians involved in the festival got to jam and accompany one another. Being a serious fan of the band Morphine for 20 years, the biggest thrill for me was getting to play with Dana Colley and Billy Conway of Twinemen til 3 or 4 in the morning.
Are there any particular artists that you are particularly excited to see perform at Tweed this year?
I have so many really close friends playing, it’s looking more like the guest list for my wedding. Dan Blakeslee, Lydia Loveless, JP Harris, Forts Gainsville, The Silks, Cannibal Ramblers, Ian Fitzgerald, Smith & Weeden, and Christopher Paul Stelling. I’ve heard wonderful things about White Dynomite and The Suitcase Junket. This year should be a blast.
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?
I’ve been playing some softball and riding my bicycle around Nashville so far this summer. It’s already June and I’ve played not an inning of Wiffle Ball. Something’s got to give.
What is your favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor?
I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I’ll choose Cherry Garcia on musical principal.
Do you think differently about festival shows than you do about regular shows?
That depends on the festival as they are not all created equal. Tweed has a grass roots, down-to-earth feel and it’s truly all about the music. I’ve put together a dream band for this one in Greg Burgess (guitar), Matt Murphy (bass), and Scott Pittman (drums), so all we really have to do is rehearse a little and get ready to spend 48 hours hanging out with our favorite people.
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?
My musical hometown is certainly Providence, RI and there is an incredible amount of good music that’s been coming out of that part of the country for a long time now. I think that starting out in a place where there were a lot of very original sounding bands taught me to keep writing until I found my own voice. Getting by sounding like somebody else never felt like an option to me, and I’m grateful to Providence for that.
How does “location” fit into your songwriting?
Every song I sing is set somewhere whether I sing much about that setting or not. In some songs I may heavily describe the environment where the action is taking place, and in other songs I may leave a lot more up to your imagination. Either way, when I sing the song I’m moving through the locations in my mind just like I’m watching a movie. In a sense, I’m just describing to you where I am and what I’m seeing. Without a location, there is no story.
Here is Tweed-vet Fletcher performing “Florence, Alabama” at Tweed several years ago.
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.