Letters

Letters 08-03-2015

Real Brownfields Deserve Dollars I read with interest the story on Brownfield development dollars in the July 20 issue. I applaud Dan Lathrop and other county commissioners who voted “No” on the Randolph Street project...

Hopping Mad Carlin Smith is hopping mad (“Will You Get Mad With Me?” 7-20-15). Somebody filed a fraudulent return using his identity, and he’s not alone. The AP estimates the government “pays more than $5 billion annually in fraudulent tax refunds.” Well, many of us have been hopping mad for years. This is because the number one tool Congress has used to fix this problem has been to cut the IRS budget –by $1.2 billion in the last 5 years...

Just Grumbling, No Solutions Mark Pontoni’s grumblings [recent Northern Express column] tell us much about him and virtually nothing about those he chooses to denigrate. We do learn that Pontoni may be the perfect political candidate. He’s arrogant, opinionated and obviously dimwitted...

A Racist Symbol I have to respond to Gordon Lee Dean’s letter claiming that the confederate battle flag is just a symbol of southern heritage and should not be banned from state displays. The heritage it represents was the treasonous effort to continue slavery by seceding from a democratic nation unwilling to maintain such a consummate evil...

Not So Thanks I would like to thank the individual who ran into and knocked over my Triumph motorcycle while it was parked at Lowe’s in TC on Friday the 24th. The $3,000 worth of damage was greatly appreciated. The big dent in the gas tank under the completely destroyed chrome badge was an especially nice touch...

Home · Articles · News · Music · Arvel Bird‘s violin journey
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Arvel Bird‘s violin journey

Kristi Kates - August 23rd, 2010
Arvel Bird’s Violin Journey
By Kristi Kates
The dulcet sounds of the violin are perhaps not usually thought of as being part of Native American musical culture. But musician Arvel Bird is drawing on little-known history to bring native violin sounds into the spotlight.
“You’re right - it’s not well-known as an instrument traditional to natives,” Bird explains, “but I understand that the violin was introduced to the indigenous people of North and South America beginning as early as 1689 by the Jesuit priests from Europe who brought the harp, guitar and violin so that they could have music for Mass on Sundays. So I think it’s safe to say that it’s been a tradition for the last 321 years. Almost 13 generations of some indigenous people have played the violin.”
While the history is fascinating to Bird, it was the sound that drew him to the instrument.
“I could go on about tribes and history and usage and music played, but that wasn’t what got me interested in playing the violin or using it to express my heritage,” he says, “it had already become the ‘voice’ of my music, so instead of singing or drumming or playing the flute, I simply applied/adapted the violin to my story-telling through music.”

CLASSICAL FUSION
Bird, who was born in Idaho and raised in Utah and Arizona, studied classical music for 11 years while in school, eventually working under the tutelage of renowned Hungarian violinist Paul Roland. Soon, he found himself being drawn to and inspired by the Appalachian, bluegrass, and Celtic styles of music; so he decided to tackle crafting his own mix of sounds that would also incorporate his Native American heritage.
“It was a tricky transition, but a deliberate and ongoing one,” Bird says. “I knew how to play the violin, but I didn’t know where music ‘came from,’ and so that became my goal. Classical playing is a great foundation for technique and training, but its very sterile and limiting when you play in an orchestra, and I knew I had a lot of my own music in me.”
“So, instead of learning more dead composers’ music, I quit taking music lessons, quit reading music, and began to explore other realms of music. As I began to incorporate the different styles into my own playing skills, it created my own “fusion.” That helped me to not compare myself with other people and players, allowed me to be myself and become my own musical artist. Now I’m not trying to do what anyone else does, and no one else can do what I do -and I don’t worry about that anymore,” he smiles.

COOL COLLABORATIONS
Today, Bird is an acclaimed musician in his own right, having received six nominations just this year at the ISMAs (the prestigious Indian Summer Music Awards, which will be awarded this September) - and he has had the opportunity to work with a wide range of fellow musicians, including two standout experiences with Glen Campbell and Loretta Lynn.
“In the mid ‘80s, a band I was with won a big competition which landed us an opening spot for Alabama, Merle Haggard, and the Judds at the Phoenix Coliseum,” Bird remembers. “We were having a great time backstage in our dressing room after the show when in walks Glen Campbell, and he sat down to chat with us. Later that weekend we played in Cave Creek, Arizona, at a golf resort that Glen belonged to and happened to be at that day. We knew a few of his songs, so he got up and sang with us. Right there on the spot, he hired us to be his backup band - and I toured with him for almost six years. It was a great experience. During this time I moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where I auditioned for Loretta Lynn, who is also a wonderful person and very down to earth, funny and easy to get along with. I’ve been fortunate to play with some incredible stars.”

NATIVE INSPIRATION
Bird’s albums get plenty of notice on their own, too; his latest set, Ride Indian Ride, was recorded in Nashville, with Bird’s goal being to honor the enduring spirit of the Indian motorcycle with a blues/rock style that uses both the violin and Native American flute as lead instruments.
“I also decided to add songs with lyrics to the instrumentals on this CD, to give people something to sing along with,” Bird explains, “I recorded honor songs about some of my First Nations heroes like Geronimo, Crazy Horse, Chief Joseph, the Cherokee Lighthorse, and one for the patriot chiefs, who fought for the rights of their people in peace and wartime.”
Bird says that he’s inspired by any number of things - other composers, movies, books - and generally prefers writing in the mornings, after his structured practice sessions.
“I start hearing a recurring piece of music start - a rhythm, a riff that adds color to a specific scene,” he explains, “when I feel ready, I normally book studio time in Nashville, where I’m familiar with the studio engineers and musicians. The creative/writing process varies from project to project, but usually I’ll start with a theme; the music itself is usually a reflection of my Native American (Southern Paiute) heritage and my Celtic roots. I also like to record music that honors the enduring spirit of the North American Indian, utilizing Native fiddling as well as Celtic fiddling.”

MUSICAL CONCLUSIONS
If you’re thinking that Bird’s compositions and songs contain plenty of colorful imagery, you’d be right. He’s as much a storyteller as he is a musician. And his upcoming show in Charlevoix will showcase plenty of examples of both.
“Fans have called the violin sounds cinematic and visual, which is what I was going for so that my audiences can take their own journey and find their own connection and identity to the Creator,” Bird says.
“I can promise the Charlevoix audience a concert which feels like a cross between Braveheart and Last of the Mohicans,” he continues, “mixed with some fiddle tunes and a few of my blues songs. What I hope happens is that they are transported for that two or three hour period into their own dreamworld, and take a musical journey around the world with me. Lastly, I never know who might be there that I can get up to perform with me, but I’ll be looking!”

Arvel Bird will perform in Charlevoix as part of the Black Cat Concert Series on Thursday, August 26 at 8 pm. Tickets ($15) and more info can be found at www.blackcatconcerts.com; more info on Arvel Bird can be found at www.arvelbird.com.


 
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