Andrew Bird debuts his intimate Gezelligheid performances in Nashville this winter for a two-night residency at the Downtown Presbyterian Church. Appropriating a Dutch term that loosely translates to cozy, the performances concentrate mainly on instrumental violin pieces amplified only by his signature giant Victrola horns. Bird notes - What I hope to do with these shows is adapt my music completely to the atmosphere of the space and the season. I want the audience to be both lifted and comforted as we head into another cold and dark winter. I feel the space should be sacred so the audience can experience my music in a different atmosphere.
Andrew Bird (born July 11, 1973) is an American musician, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. Trained in the Suzuki method from the age of four, Bird graduated from Lake Forest High School in 1991 and Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree in violin performance in 1996.
That same year he self-released his first solo album, “Music of Hair.” Vastly different from his later work, this album showcased his violin skills and paid tribute to his fascination with both American and European folk traditions, as well as jazz and blues. Following this, his initial commercial exposure came through collaborative work with the band Squirrel Nut Zippers, appearing on three of their albums, “Hot,” “Sold Out,” and “Perennial Favorites” between 1996 and 1998.
Taking on the role of bandleader, Bird released “Thrills” on Rykodisc in 1997 with his group Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire, shortly followed by second album “Oh! The Grandeur” in 1998. Both albums were heavily influenced by traditional folk, pre-war jazz, and swing, with Bird relying on the violin as his primary musical instrument, as well as providing vocals along with his trademark verbose lyrics.
In 2002, Bird was asked to open for a band in his hometown of Chicago, but fellow Bowl of Fire members were unavailable for the date. The reluctant Bird performed the gig alone, and the surprising success of this solo show suggested potential new directions for his music.
The Bowl of Fire unofficially disbanded in 2003, and Bird went on to radically re-invent himself as a solo artist. His two subsequent albums were released on Ani Difranco's Righteous Babe Records label. 2003's “Weather Systems” was a sparse record with a dramatic change in musical direction. It featured the tracks “Skin” and “I,” proto-versions of songs that would later become “Skin Is, My” and “Imitosis.”
2005’s “The Mysterious Production of Eggs” continued a progression towards an eclectic indie–folk sound, and both records formed a stark stylistic break with Bird's earlier work, swapping the lush backing of a full band for carefully layered samples of sound constructed using multitrack recorders and loop pedals. As his sound changed, Bird made increasing use of guitar, glockenspiel, and whistling in his songwriting, in addition to his traditional violin and vocals.
Bird is noted for improvising and reworking his songs during live performance, as can be seen in his series of self-released live compilations entitled “Fingerlings,” “Fingerlings 2” and “Fingerlings 3,” the first of which was released in 2002. Each “Fingerlings” EP was released prior to a studio album, and presented a mixture of live performances from different shows, including old tracks, covers, and previously unreleased songs, some of which have since appeared on studio albums. “Fingerlings 3,” released in October 2006, also featured studio outtakes. “Fingerlings 2” provided Bird with an unexpected boost in recognition in 2004 when it was named album of the month by “Mojo.”
In September 2006, Bird signed to Fat Possum Records, and in March 2007 he released his third post-Bowl of Fire album, “Armchair Apocrypha.” The album was recorded in collaboration with electronic musician Martin Dosh, and included a track composed by Dosh (with lyrics by Bird) entitled “Simple X.” This song first appeared without Bird's lyrics as “Simple Exercises” on Dosh's 2004 release “Pure Trash.” The album was produced by Ben Durrant and also featured Haley Bonar and Chris Morrissey.
Bird's fifth solo album, “Noble Beast,” was released in January 2009, and contained fourteen new songs. “The Privateers” was a re-imagining of a very early song entitled “The Confession” from 1999's “Oh! The Grandeur.” A limited deluxe edition of the album included alternate packaging and artwork, as well as an all-instrumental companion disc entitled “Useless Creatures.” The entirety of “Useless Creatures” was made available via Bird's website during the run-up to the release. “Noble Beast” was met with generally favorable reviews.
In May 2009, Bird released the EP “Fitz and the Dizzy Spells.” It contained “Fitz and the Dizzyspells” from “Noble Beast,” as well as other songs from that album's recording sessions. In 2010, Bird recorded with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, contributing vocals and violin on a cover of “Shake It and Break It” on “Preservation: An Album to Benefit Preservation Hall & The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program.”
Bird wrote and performed the original score and songs for the 2010 film “Norman.” The soundtrack for the movie was released in 2011.
Chicago singer/songwriter/violinist Andrew Bird updates the traditions of small-group swing, German lieder, and New Orleans jazz, mixing Gypsy, folk, and rock elements into his distinctive style. Bird's projects include his group the Bowl of Fire (which also includes drummer Kevin O'Donnell, bassist Josh Hirsch, and guitarist Colin Bunn) and performing as an auxiliary member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Bird has also recorded with artists like Pinetop Seven and Lil' Ed Williams, teaches music at the Old Town School of Folk Music, and has released numerous critically acclaimed solo albums. ~ Heather Phares, Rovi
While multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird has proven he can play well with others, it's his solo tour dates and albums that have been creating a stir in recent years. Bird's solo albums have steadily received more and more critical acclaim, with his most recent effort, Noble Beast, shooting to the top of the indie charts. While Andrew Bird appears to have no new albums on the horizon, fans can catch the talented musician on US tour dates in 2011, beginning this August. Classically trained in the violin from a young age, Andrew Bird released his debut solo album, Music of Hair, in 1996. That same year, he began to be featured on three of Squirrel Nut Zippers most popular albums and formed Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire a year later. The group received some acclaim with their 2001 album, The Swimming Hour but small tour dates and only slight popularity led them to disband in 2003. Andrew Bird once again took up a solo career and began to garner attention upon the release of Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs in 2005. The success of the album led to higher profile festival tour dates and live performances continued to be chronicled in Bird's Fingerlings series of live albums. Electric guitars brought a sharper edge to Bird's 2007 album, Armchair Apocrypha, becoming the artist's first to break onto the Billboard charts. The success of the album led to Bird being thrust into the public eye, with huge tour dates and television appearances occurring regularly. In a testament to his staying power, Andrew Bird's most recent, 2009 album, Noble Beast, has received widespread recognition from critics and audiences. The album's popularity has left the possibilities of Bird's career endless and led to upcoming 2011 tour dates at some of the United States' most prominent theaters and opera houses. The concert dates kick off on August 5 at the Regina Folk Festival in Saskatchewan and will travel around the east coast of the US until October 22. With only a dozen or so opportunities to see Andrew Bird this summer and fall, fans should buy tickets for his 2011 tour dates soon.