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Andrew Bird (born July 11, 1973) is an American musician. He was born in Illinois and resides in the Chicago area. Bird is a singer-songwriter who is also a violinist and, since 2004, a guitarist. He also claims to be a professional whistler.
Andrew Bird was often pegged by critics as a musical chameleon early in his career, displaying his varied musical influences without, perhaps, adding anything new. His years of solo song-craft have now enabled him to produce a sound that is uniquely his own.
Trained by the Suzuki method from a young age and a graduate of Illinois' Northwestern University, Bird released his first solo album, Music of Hair, in 1996. Vastly different from his later releases, this first album showcases his violin skills and pays tribute to his fascination with both American and European folk traditions, as well as jazz and blues.
His initial commercial exposure was in collaborative work with the band Squirrel Nut Zippers. He was quickly lumped in with the swing craze that swept the United States music industry in the mid '90s; this is an affiliation that he is still working to shed.
Taking on the role of band leader in 1997 with Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire, he released the album Thrills. This was followed by Oh! The Grandeur in 1998. Both albums were heavily influenced by traditional folk, pre-war jazz and swing, with Bird relying on the violin as his primary musical instrument.
In 2001, Bird released The Swimming Hour, his third release with the Bowl of Fire and a dramatic departure from previous recordings. The Swimming Hour featured a mixture of styles, from the zydeco-influenced "Core and Rind" to more straightforward rock songs. He has often referred to this record as his "jukebox album".
The Bowl of Fire unofficially disbanded some time in 2003, having featured many skilled Chicago musicians including Kevin O'Donnell, Nora O'Connor, Andy Hopkins (aka Mr. Rudy Day), Jimmy Sutton, Colin Bunn and Ryan Hembrey.
Bird has released two subsequent solo albums, both distributed through the label operated by Ani DiFranco, Righteous Babe Records. The two records, 2003's Weather Systems and 2005's The Mysterious Production of Eggs, continue a progression towards an eclectic indie folk sound that has proven challenging to classify.
Bird's live solo shows have been notable in that he uses a multi-track system to sample and loop his own performance. For example, he may record a snippet of his performance on violin, then play a "loop" of that sound. This provides a more full-bodied sound and aurally suggests a band performance, rather than the sound of a solo artist.
Bird's latest album Armchair Apocrypha (Fat Possum) was released on March 20th 2007.
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