Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

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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