'The Giant of Illinois' (The Handsome Family cover)
Andrew Bird at KEXP's Secret Stage at the Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival.
The Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival in Seattle is the biggest and longest-running festival of its kind in North America. More than 1,000 acts perform during the three-day festival, which is attended by hundreds of thousands of music and art lovers. In this overwhelming sea of talent and humanity, one of the highlights of this year's festival came from solo performer Andrew Bird — one of a handful of artists asked to play an additional set, in front of an invited audience of 200, that was broadcast live on KEXP and hosted by one of our DJs, Cheryl Waters.
In the comforts of a dark theater, while outside the walls thousands of people ate salmon on a stick and cotton candy, Bird treated us to a deeply moving and intimate performance. His sound is intricate and complex, yet emotionally direct. He would play a piece on violin, guitar or voice, loop these pieces, and then layer on more and more, constructing his songs on the spot. We all sat completely still, attentive witnesses to the creative process as he re-created the songs before us, shoeless, and seemingly in a trance himself. Few fiddle more melodically, harmonize so beautifully or whistle with perfect pitch like Bird. Except for the few moments during song breaks, when the rest of the audience exploded with applause and cheers, it felt as if we were each alone in a musical oasis on a special afternoon while the party raged outside.
More About Andrew Bird
Classically trained Chicago songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird began his musical studies at age 4, on the violin, and over the years has developed a unique sound originating in blues, folk (American and European) and rock. Armchair Apocrypha, Bird's eighth full-length album in 10 years, showcases his ongoing evolution from traditional to electronic influences, as he collaborates with electronic musician Martin Dosh.