Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
May 27th
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

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’

 

Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

Should Pacific Avenue be a one-way street, two-way street, or pedestrian only?

I would definitely support closing off Pacific Mall to cars. I think that would be wonderful. Jim Grey, Santa Cruz, Builder