Fish and Bird, hailing from Canada, opened the show for Joy
Kills Sorrow. Lead singer and banjo player, Taylor Ashton, sings in a way that
I would describe as stretchy. He has a sort of Dave Matthews way of
bending words and working with his breath. The melodies of the songs were
obscure and syncopated so that he had to spend a lot of time on enunciation and
syllabic emphasis. Singing can involve a lot more than putting words to a melody,
as we know from singers like Ella. Rickie Lee Jones and Tom Waits have both
used their voices to depict various effects in their songs, too. Sometimes the
desire to make an effect can eclipse the emotional feeling, so it can be kind
of a razor’s edge. Ashton is a risk-taking singer who I believe, like wine,
will only get better with age.
Fish and Bird’s songs were not predictable or ordinary by
any means. Similarly to Joy Kills Sorrow, they look like a bluegrass or
traditional folk band at first glance, but their style is more of a fusion of
I couldn’t stop watching the wildly focused drummer, Ben
Kelly. Fiddle player, Adam Iredale-Gray, (who should own a five thousand acre
estate in Great Britain with a name like that), was energetic and sensitive.
Ryan Boeur was steady, strong, and versatile on guitar. Their new bassist,
Natalie Bohrn, recently replaced Zoe Gueguerra (now with Joy Kills Sorrow). She was
adorable and ferocious on the bass, with smiles shining from her pretty face.
For me the high point of their set was a song called, “Mark
my Grave”, which was full of deadpan humor and involved audience participation.
Here is where Taylor really excelled as a singer, going very playful with his
voice and showing a great range of expression, not to mention the impressive
bass notes! Great song for Halloween! I can't help but wonder if they got their name from the charming song by Tom Waits. I guess I'll have to ask 'em.
You can learn more about them by visiting
their website at: fishandbird.ca
Press photo from their website
For music lovers visiting Portland, Maine, I highly recommend
One Longfellow Square ~ "Portland's Premier Arts Venue"
Check them out at onelongfellowsquare.com.