In today’s fickle pop culture world, we don’t run into many virtuosos these days. If you’ve ever seen Andrew Bird perform or heard one of his patented orchestral Folk songs, you know you’re in the presence of a master maestro — whether he’s playing guitar, violin, glockenspiel or just whistling. His background includes Classical training for violin and a music scholarship at Northwestern University as well as a late-‘90s stint playing with the retro-Swing band Squirrel Nut Zippers.
He's on tour supporting Noble Beast, his sixth solo record. Though he often plays solo behind his pocket-symphony array of loop pedals, this time out he’ll have Martin Dosh on percussion and Jeremy Ylvisaker on bass.
Opening for Bird is Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, an accomplished singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who’s no longer in the shadows of The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens, with whom she toured as a guitarist and vocalist. They did open her ears, though, shaping her jazzy approach to songwriting.
And now a truly disarming recent album called Actor — the successor to her 2007 debut, Marry Me — is lifting her career (and probably padding sales at, say, Urban Outfitters and The Gap). It’s her Billie Holiday with Indie Pop, one could say, and proof that the computer program GarageBand is a god. (She has a Rock flare on fuzzy tracks like “Actor Out of Work” and “The Neighbors.”)
This month she's touring with Andrew Bird (see CityBeat's interview with him here). They have crossed paths in three continents, she says, and recently in a Parisian apartment to collaborate for a concert.