Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist and lyricist Andrew Bird picked up his first violin at the age of 4. Actually, it was a Cracker Jack box with a ruler taped to it, and the first of his many Suzuki music lessons involved simply bowing to the teacher and going home. He spent his formative years soaking up classical repertoire completely by ear so when it came time for a restless teen-ager to make the jump to Hungarian Gypsy music, early jazz, country blues, south Indian etc., it wasn’t such a giant leap. It’s fitting that now, though classically trained, he has instead opted to play his violin in a most unconventional manner, accompanying himself on glockenspiel and guitar, adding singing and whistling to the equation, and becoming a pop songwriter in the process.
Andrew Bird releases Noble Beast on Fat Possum Records. The self-produced album consists of 14 original songs recorded primarily at the Beech House in Nashville, with additional recording taking place at various Chicago and Minneapolis locations over a period of five months. As usual, Bird handles violin, vocals, whistling and guitar, with back-up from live cohorts Martin Dosh (percussion, looping, keys), Jeremy Ylvisaker (guitar, bass, organ, shortwave) and more recently Mike Lewis, plus a supporting cast including Kelly Hogan, Todd Sickafoose, and the band Loney Dear. Hear it on FRUKie Radio from today.