Musical Monday: Andrew Bird

Yesterday I played violin in public for the first time in at least a couple of years. I took lessons beginning at age 4 and continued playing pretty actively up until I was about 18 or 19. Since then I’ve just picked it up every now and then to play in various weddings. When people ask me why I stopped playing, I always say, “I did it for so many years, I think I just got really burned out.” When people asked me why I wasn’t majoring in music in college, I said, “I don’t want to end up resenting it because I have to do it. I want it to always be a choice.” And I think that philosophy has served me well. When I played yesterday, I chose to do it. I could have said no. And for the first time in a long time, I actually enjoyed it.

I was trained classically, but my parents are very into Celtic music, so I can fiddle a little bit, too. There are many classical violinists I have admired, but I’m always really fascinated by people who use their violin in totally innovative ways musically. For example, Boyd Tinsley, the violinist for Dave Matthews Band, is amazing. And there will always be a special place in my heart for Nigel Kennedy — the British punk-rock classical violinist who plays the best Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto I’ve ever heard and looks like a rock star (mohawk, earrings, etc.) in the process. He brings rock and roll passion to the symphony.


Happily, I’ve just discovered Andrew Bird. His primary instrument is violin, but he is also “musically proficient in guitar, mandolin, whistling, and glockenspiel.” Can you imagine having that on your resume? Awesome. Anyway, he has a degree in violin performance and is also classically trained. He played with the Squirrel Nut Zippers back in the 1990’s (if anyone outside North Carolina even remembers them). He had another band called Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire, and now he is a solo artist. He does some really interesting things with his violin. Rolling Stone describes his sound as “emotive indie-rock with chamber music experimentalism, with lyrics that refer to arcane subjects like mitosis and Cypriots,” and “jazz-quintet doing a Radiohead impression.” Hmm, I wonder what Radiohead would sound like if they had a violin.



  1. Aaron said,

    April 29, 2009 at 3:23 am

    I’ll have to check him out. Nigel’s version of The Seasons is the best I’ve ever heard and the only one I will listen to. glad to hear you pulled out the old violin – I found some old music the other day that we used to play together – I think it was a sonata by Ludwig Mendelssohn? Can’t exactly remember. Anyway, I think we played it in public like a dozen times. I played through the piano part with fond memories.

  2. meggitymegs said,

    April 29, 2009 at 4:43 am

    I remember the Mendelssohn. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: