EDITOR’S NOTE: Check it! I got to write the announcement below on the Newport Folk Festival’s blog to break the news of Andrew Bird’s spot on the bill this summer. Bird’s addition follows Shovels & Rope and The Lone Bellow, two of our favorites. The Festival is off to a folkin excellent start and going to continue rolling out artist announcements one at a time in the weeks to come. Stay tuned.
Since he can remember, Andrew Bird has had melodies in his head and he even chews his food to them.
The Chicago-native and classically trained violinist, much celebrated for his outstanding creativity in songwriting and gifted whistling abilities, is more likely to blow your mind than most musicians in the world today. Bird’s deeply imaginative songs that stream from his acute perception of nature and his surroundings make him a natural fit for an environment like Fort Adams. His performances are heavy in the kind of exploration we love and feature brilliant instrumentation with a meticulous attention to detail that stuns even our nerdiest music snobs. His Newport Folk Festival debut in 2010 included a much talked about Fort Stage performance and incredible special appearances with others, including The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Calexico. Bird also “gets” Newport – he rode his bike to Fort Adams both days of the festival, spending much of the weekend watching the sets of other performers.
Since learning to play the violin through the organic Suzuki Method at the age of four, Bird has dabbled in a salad bar of genres – from swing to jazz to indie-rock to old time folk and more. He joins the lineup following a phenomenal year of folk that included two critically-acclaimed releases and a string of unforgettable sold out performances. In his tour after the release of Break It Yourself last March, Bird performed all acoustic old-time sets, winning such an amazing response from audiences that it prompted the release Hands of Glory in late October. A companion piece to Break It Yourself, the album was recorded live in Bird’s barn in western Illinois, featuring reinterpretations of songs from its sister album and covers of classic country tunes. The instrumentation on the album is stellar. From the perfect harmonies in its opener, “Three White Horses,” to “Orpheo” – a gorgeous rendition of “Orpheo Looks Back” off of Break It Yourself and just one example of the way that so many of Bird’s songs are living, continuing to grow beyond the album and never fully finished – to a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You,” which he performed on Letterman along with folk trio members, Alan Hampton and Tift Merritt, in an empty Ed Sullivan Theater shortly after Hurricane Sandy. In December, Bird entranced two sold out audiences with special performances of songs from the album at New York’s Riverside Church, amplified only by Bird’s gigantic spinning Victrola horns.
Bird’s performance in Newport is a must-see and we couldn’t be happier to have him back.