Andrew Bird

One of the Best Around
by Emma Dessau

Andrew Bird could be the Best.

Newport Folk photos by Emma Dessau

I'll start this off saying I'm not the kind of guy who likes Andrew Bird. His music isn't my cup of tea, really. But I can appreciate what he does. I have told myself this time-and-time again, evidently. The reality here is that whenever I see Andrew Bird play, I am utterly delighted and mesmerized. He is one of a kind and possibly the best of what he does in this generation. There is no one I can think of that plays such exacting numbers: both delicate and light-spirited and at times, rhythmic and soaring. I stand corrected, again. Great art makes us better students of the self.

Bird was spotted at the opening night of Newport last Friday night. There he enjoyed the same Tim O'Brien and Steve Martin sets as the fans. On Saturday, I saw him smiling (for but a moment) as he peered out across the waters across from Fort Adams. He would soon perform a hugely successful set that reminded me, once again - that he really is the best. I watched him effortlessly win over fans, plucking at his violin along the way - whistling his way into hearts and minds alike.

RSL Streaming Photo Album
Andrew Bird at Newport Folk 51 - 7/31/10

images by Emma Dessau

On Sunday, Bird was seen enjoying the sets of more bands at Newport. (I love seeing artists checking out their contemporaries. Bird definitely falls into this category.) On Monday, he played a short set & visited with students at Berklee in Boston. I was invited to, but could not attend. I would have gone, too - to see Bird once again. But I was reminded that Bird just contributed the title track to the new Shel Silverstein-inspired album project. (Sugar Hill Records - available online, in stores and at Barnes & Noble bookstores.) The music and live performances tell you a great deal about Bird's talent - but his drive and his artistic whimsy are probably what I like best...

It was the first demonstration of the week that Bird has an appreciable fun side. The second (below) is his contribution as the corpse in Margaret Cho's comedic music video. Bird plays the victim here and contributes his trademark whistle. Now that's good stuff.

Andrew Bird
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