Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Apr 26th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Bird Calls

music_AndrewBirdMulti-instrumentalist Andrew Bird goes loopy in church
It’s kind of appropriate that Andrew Bird hails from the Windy City. If you’ve never heard the anointed expert whistler pucker his lips, it sounds like an eerie breeze through the trees, maybe more akin to extraterrestrial avifauna or solar wind than anything earthbound. One might call them Bird calls.

Forming his mouth more like an instrument than an organ, it’s no surprise that the multi-talented indie darling Mr. Bird is slated for two nights at the Rio Theatre, Friday and Saturday, Jan. 28 and 29.

“The whistling came out of playing the violin,” explained the multi-instrumentalist to online publication IndieLondon in 2009. “The violin is an extremely painful instrument to learn to play and the whistling was so casual. There’s a certain geometry and fluidity to it.”

 

Bird’s background is in classical music, graduating from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s degree in violin performance, so it’s no surprise that his other instrumental forays derive from that. The 37-year-old began his career among the ’90s swing revival as a member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers before moving on to a solo career initially tagged as Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire. Since branching out, Bird has become a veritable artisan to the NPR crowd, and has cemented himself as one of Coachella Music Festival’s stalwarts—again landing himself a spot on 2011’s bill.

It’s been two years since Bird has released an album of original material—Noble Beast and the accompanying Useless Creatures—but just last month the violin, guitar, mandolin and glockenspiel-proficient Bird released the fourth installment of his live Fingerlings series. Recorded at a Chicago Presbyterian church, the album may well offer some insight into what fans can expect this weekend at the Rio.

Although Bird recorded his last two studio albums with the same drummer and bassist backing him, and had subsequently moved his live shows more toward a band dynamic, last winter’s church mini-tour saw Bird playing completely solo. Although the latest Fingerlings album is very much reflective of its organic, creaky church setting, it’s also perhaps Bird’s finest work with a loop pedal, enlarging his sound to fit the cavernous hall.

“It is a bit disorienting at first as to where the sound is coming from, and is what you're hearing at the moment really what I'm playing now or what I played 12 seconds ago ...?” Bird confessed to Clashmusic.com in 2009. “I get confused, sure, but I can visualize the loop and its shape. It’s like a cloud that hangs between me and the audience and I can crawl between the notes and carve away a little E from the top while I add more G at the bottom.”

The result on Fingerlings 4 is fairly stunning; an orchestral sound emanating from one man, backed by the kind of terse string plucking that’s become characteristic of Bird’s catalogue. Ironically, though the loop pedal may be a modern invention of technology, Bird learned to efficiently use the medium in the most rustic of settings.

“I was living full-time at my barn in rural Illinois and messing around with this looping pedal,” Bird continued. “Having a lot of time on your hands is pretty key to mastering live looping, where the timing has to be precise. The looping forces limitations on your songwriting in a good way, I think. You have to boil the song down to its basic elements for it to work.”

Indeed, it may be an oxymoron to describe a sound as orchestral and minimal simultaneously, but this is the backwoods feeling created by Bird’s latest live album. Though one man creates a certain homogeny of sound, use of the loop pedal creates the audio equivalent to bouncing a laser off a mirror—going every which way in a perfectly straight line.

 


Andrew Bird performs at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 28 and 29, at the Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are sold out. For more information call 423-8209.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise