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Fish and Bird Warble and Make a Splash

Venue: One Longfellow Square, Portland, ME ~ September 20, 2012 ~

Oct 22, 2012
Kimmy Sophia Brown

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 genres.

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:

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

Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.

She writes the column "From the Back Porch" as well as reviews of music in her column "MusicViews". Her goal in her music reviews is to introduce music she loves to people who may not have heard that particular artist or CD. For information about how to submit a CD for review, click here.

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