Humans have always been inspired by the music of singing birds. And I've hypothesized that a musician's ears are naturally tuned for the sounds of nature, and vice versa.
When I learned that Jonathan Meiberg, the leader of the indie-rock band Shearwater, had a serious interest in birds, I made a mental note to contact him. When I saw that the band would be passing through Ohio on its spring 2010 tour, I emailed an interview inquiry to the band's contact e-mail and was pleasantly surprised when Jonathan replied right away. We made plans to meet at The Beachland Tavern in Cleveland so I could interview Jonathan for my podcast "This Birding Life."
Shearwater's sound check.
When I got to The Beachland, the three bands on the tour—Hospital Ships, Wye Oak, and Shearwater were all loading equipment into the venue. I met Jonathan and we arranged to talk after their sound check.
After sound check, we went downstairs to the basement and what passes for the dressing room for the bands. It was far too loud in that space for an interview with all the bustling musicians and humming equipment, so we adjourned to a small storage room. Here's a peak at it, just to give you an idea of how totally glamorous is the life of a touring rock musician.
You can hear the interview, which is episode 27 of This Birding Life both in the iTunes store (for free) and at TBL's home at Podcast Central. In the interview we talk about a whole array of topics, including the music-birds connection, birding on the road, on-stage hearing protection, life birds, and how attached one can become to a cheap travel guitar.
After the interview, I headed upstairs for a quick bite and a frosty-cold glass of hoppy/malty goodness, then it was showtime, baby! Hospital Ships took the stage first and played a nice set, followed by the Baltimore-based duo Wye Oak. I really dug Wye Oak. Throughout the evening band members sat in with one another on certain songs. It was clear that these folks had lots of mutual admiration going one.
Jonathan took the time not only for our interview, but also for a half-dozen fans who wanted to chat at length with him. After several weeks of touring, that takes some patience, I would guess.
I'm not sure why there's such a connection between music and birds for so many of us. I know I could not live without both music and birds in my life. And I'm glad I don't have to.