Ben Porway photo
One of the defining characteristics of the Western Massachusetts music scene is its status as a melting pot. Bands that spring up in the Valley often share members. And frequently, when one group forms, many others will be created as members split their time between the original act and numerous side projects. For proof of that, one need look no farther than the hard-rocking quartet Tidwell’s Treasure.
Formed in 2007 by longtime friends Sean McMahon (guitar, lead vocals), J Witbeck (bass, tuba, vocals), Tim Jangl (drums, yelling) and Emily Duff (saxophone, vocals), Tidwell’s got its start when its members began jamming together in Jangl’s basement while everyone was home from college. After developing a small cult following, the band soon progressed to playing monthly shows at The Pizza Shoppe in East Longmeadow, and now, despite the musicians’ time spent in other acts like The Raft, Primate Fiasco, Brotherhood of Thieves and Bird Courage, the group still gets together to play the occasional show or to plot a new musical direction.
“I’ve been living in Brooklyn for over a year, and we get lots of questions about the fate of Tidwell’s,” says McMahon. “‘Radical shift’ has been our battle cry as of late. Given that we are all deeply involved with different projects, whenever we come together to play, which is also inevitable, we just want to up the ante in terms of musicianship, adrenaline, fun, thrash. We also just love contradicting ourselves. Pretty soon, I’m sure, we will be an introverted glockenspiel choir.”
Evidence of that freewheeling, hard-to-define style can be heard in the material available on Tidwell’s 2011 self-titled debut. Shorts blasts of jazzy freak funk like “Panic in the Woods” rub up alongside lengthier cuts like “Drone Tune,” and harder-edged tracks like “Bleeding Neck Barrel Roll/ Sarah Palin’s Turkey” show a band that is unafraid of mixing genres even within the same song.
But just what does Tidwell’s Treasure sound like live?
“Musical chaos which is very tight-knight,” says McMahon. “You will hear heavy metal thrash followed by an old foot-tapper from the ’20s. You will hear lots of yelling coming from J and Tim above the wall of sound, and you will see Emily ascending into outer space whether she is playing the sax or not.”
Time spent working on other projects hasn’t slowed down Tidwell’s creative drive. In fact, for future plans, one of the band’s newest ideas is downright cinematic in its scope.
McMahon says, “We have an album’s worth of new material and we are currently discussing plans to make it into a movie.”
“Good luck with handling it all,” adds Witbeck. “It’s just kick kickin’ kick kiiiick. It’s good.”•
For more information on Tidwell’s Treasure please visitfacebook.com/pages/Tidwells-Treasure/353116125536 and tidwellstreasure.bandcamp.com. Or follow the band on Twitter via @tidwells_twit.