Editor's note: In the print edition of this article, the room venue is listed. The show will take place in the Murat Theatre, not the Egyptian Room.
It only seems natural for a musician named Andrew Bird to be migratory.
And he has been, for years. Constantly being on the road has its physical tolls. He frequently battles sickness and fever, but he won't stop any time soon.
"I just love the performance," Bird says, "I love the realness of it. And I love not knowing what's going to come out of me or my band every night."
With the vast array of instruments on stage, audiences are as curious as to what's going to come out of Andrew Bird's performances as he is. Between violin, glockenspiel, whistling, looping pedal, guitar -- and his accompanying band -- each performance takes listeners through many layers of music and energy.
When he isn't on tour, Bird is at home or staying at his barn-turned-studio in Western Illinois. These different locations not only affect his health, but his songwriting as well. Bird explains that when looking back at songs, he can tell whether they were written in rural or urban settings.
"I think what you see every day is certainly going to influence the things you hear. Being able to see a storm rolling through your valley and moving on gives you a different sense of space and time."
Great songs can be formed in a cluttered urban environment, but Bird also believes that, "seeing long distances calibrates your mind to a certain type of imagination." Bird is a man of many theories -- along with his theory on how sight calibrates minds, he also believes that his constant sickness is his body adapting to touring by becoming a "non-animal."
Whether or not these theories are scientifically accurate isn't as important as their effect on Bird's music. These theories stem from how the mind and body can evolve within a lifetime to adapt to the rapid changing of location. Much of Bird's music, both in live performance and in the studio, is an evolutionary phenomenon.
The current stage of evolution is an exciting one for Bird and his bandmates. In the past, he's moved from solo folk and classical work, to Bowl of Fire, a gypsy-jazz-swing band, to experimenting with a looping pedal in his album Weather Systems.
Using a loop pedal allows Bird to record different sections of a song and then layer each part live and in the studio. From one man, one glockenspiel and one violin, comes the sound of an entire symphony.
While looping remains a key aspect of his newest album, Break It Yourself, there is a different vibe that creates this new "stage" of his musical evolution. Whereas older albums, such as The Mysterious Production of Eggs, were more heavily produced, Break It Yourself was recorded as a live band. The shift to recording as a band was a natural step for Bird.
"I guess I'm tired of production; I'm into the sort of realness of recording as a reaction to what I hear 'out there' to some degree," he says.
This "realness" gives Break It Yourself a lively and bright sound that contrasts his darker lyrics.
"[Recording this album] was to project out of ourselves as quickly as possible, and just enjoy the dynamic of playing in the band."
That joyous group dynamic transcends the album beautifully. It captivates listeners through its contagious melodies while maintaining the depth and complexity of older Andrew Bird songs. The band on Break It Yourself consists of longtime bandmate Martin Dosh, Jeremy Ylvisaker and Michael Lewis.
The theme of adapting to location appeared once again in recording Break It Yourself -- it was the first album recorded at Bird's barn. Each band member had to adjust to the new setting, including Bird.
"It is kind of a sacred space where I otherwise go alone and make music. I've been afraid to bring anyone out there for years," Bird says.
To ease the transition, he brought along a chef.
"It's farm country... " Bird says, "and it's late summer, so we're just getting the harvest. So it was pretty damn good."
The food, the country setting and the desire to strip down his music led Bird and his band into an old-time folk direction.
During performances on his recent tour, his bandmates would engage in folk driven acoustic segments. On describing the "old time" section, Bird says, "It's become a really nice contrast to the full-on looping electric set that can get pretty enormous.
"It just becomes this perfect thing where we unplug everything and play into one microphone; I think the word 'recalibrate' is appropriate. Everyone that hears it is refocused when we do that."
The next step to express this vintage feel was to record an album. That album is Hands of Glory, a companion piece to Break It Yourself that comes out in October. It was recorded in the barn and features original songs, covers and "old time" versions of songs from Break It Yourself.
Playing folk music is not turning back the clock for Bird; it's moving forward in his evolution. To Bird, music, and especially folk music, is "subconsciously evolving; it's always under your skin. That melody just keeps resurfacing to the point where you're whistling it and it's escaping from you. It's completely in your bones and it keeps resonating with you, and you know you have to do something with it."
Though he says folk purists will often say reworking is wrong, he thinks it keeps it truly alive. Not writing down any music is a way of continuing the liveliness of a piece of music to Bird.
"When a record is finished, it doesn't mean that the music has stopped evolving," he says.
[A+E] Classical Music, Jazz + Blues + R&B
[Music] DJs + Dancing
[Music] DJs + Dancing
[Music] DJs + Dancing