Paper Bird: Success has never looked so Joyful, Care-free and Wholesome.
I finally saw Paper Bird (click here for music) last Friday, at the historic Boulder Theater where elephantjournal.com’s ‘elevision’ last few talk shows have taken place. It was long overdue—after hearing from Kirk Peterson, our music columnist, that Paper Bird was the brightest thing since sunshine; and from my friend Elizabeth Patterson, who happens to be proud mommy to two of the singers, my expectations were higher than…Michael Phelps.
Paper Bird is, along with 3OH!3, Boulder’s hottest new music act. Unlike 3OH!3, they offer something altogether different than the usual MTVesque videos full of women wearing next to nothing and macho (if admittedly ironic and fun) posturing. Paper Bird’s only been at it for a year or so, but in that time they’ve come out with a fun, string-tied album, played to ever larger venues, and been tapped by New Belgium last summer for their popular, eco Tour de Fat.
A band full of hippie hipsters, Paper Bird‘s ‘in love with life’ sex appeal is as wholesome as the apple pie ala mode Kerouac ate in his cross country early 50s roadtrip. But their old-timey, Oh Brother Where Art Thou-esque harmonies hearken back to an even earlier era—the 30s, say—when life was simple, cotton summer dresses and bare feet were de rigeur, and one’s living was based on the fortunes spelled out in the yellow pages of Farmer’s Almanac. Paper Bird’s three Gentlemen made the lovely long-legged girls I came with swoon, and Paper Bird’s three Ladies sent little pink hearts circling round the dopey heads of every boy in the Theater (except yours truly, I’m not effected by that stuff).
Now, I’m no music aficionado—in fact I asked three friends also in attendance at last week’s nearly-if-not-sold-out show to write this review in my stead. What I am, however, is your average I-like-to-have-a-good-time dance-badly-a-little and get-inspired kinda concert goer. So while I don’t know much about music books—I do know I had a good time, and would go again (and if my ignoramus reaction is any judge, Paper Bird will continue to fly high).
I do remember dragging six or seven friends along with me, having a great time, dancing so hard my legs ached in the morn, buying a purple Paper Bird American Apparel tee (personally stitched with a patch by the lovely, commanding Esme Patterson, sister to the lovely, commanding Genevieve, another one of the band’s three singers), hollering at the band’s new manager, a longtime bud, that ‘they were going places, I mean big-time’ before biking off, mostly sober, to release my hound, Redford, from his cozy kennel back home.
Via Paper Bird’s Myspace page (if they don’t say so themselves):
Standing firm in no existing genre, Paper Bird’s backbone is their songwriting, musicianship, and a general allergy to all limitations and trends. With seven members, and no leader, this band is pulled in every direction imaginable, but thanks to their unique instrumentation, this Colorado-based group never reminds you of anyone but themselves. Their “sound” is achieved by the opposing of the multitudinous influences of the members and the intimacy of their mutual collaboration. The acoustic guitar and banjo dance rhythmically together beneath three singers who weave a basket out of harmony, while trombone adds texture, bass, melody and occasionally, sound effects. The rhythm section is a product of the ingenuity of Paul DeHaven’s guitar work, the recently added mastery of Macon Terry’s upright bass, Tyler Archuletta’s trombone wizardry, and the unconventional, punctuated rhythm and bite of Caleb Summeril’s banjo. While they may appear abstractly eclectic and unusual onstage, the unified sound they produce is greeted by all audiences like an old friend (astonished looks, big old grins, and the occasional misty eye are not uncommon). The women on the other hand, Sarah Anderson, Esme Patterson and Genny Patterson, have a sneak attack of their own. At first glance they appear to be like a trio out of a sixties girl group, all dresses and smiles, while musically, they function more often than not, as one singer. Whether in harmony, canon, or in three-voiced unison, they’ve been known to try everything that has been tried in the last 150 years of popular music, and many things that haven’t. The seven of them together are capable of writing in any style and covering any song with simplicity and sincerity. Paper Bird is directed and anchored by their big hearts which are ceaselessly creating new songs. The vast majority of these are love songs. In the lyrics, music, and performances, this is really what comes across. The individual members of Paper Bird are often obscured by their overwhelming love for the world and, incidentally, each other. All between the ages of 19 and 24, they have been a band for only a year and most of them have known each other about that long. The band’s inception came at a cabin high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains where, the first time they played music together, four songs were written and played to their first audience (passers-by on a street corner in Breckenridge,CO) a few hours later. Within a month they had a seven song demo of all originals and a solid foot in the door of the Denver music scene. Things have continued to move at this pace ever since. This summer, Paper Bird was ranked #3 in the Denver Post’s Top 20 Underground bands of 2008 and they completed their first out of state tour with New Belgium Brewery’s Tour de Fat, wooing and awing thousands more. They make audiences feel love, excitement, and passion. They are a happy-go-lucky, neo-folk act. A show not to be missed, a band that must be heard: Paper Bird is one of a kind.
SARAH- vox and trumpet
CALEB- banjo and harmonica
MACON- upright bass
Our album, Anything Nameless and Joymaking is available at these fantastic local retailers:
Twist and Shout (East Colfax, Denver, CO)
Wax Trax (13th and Washington, Denver, CO)
Albums on the Hill (Boulder, CO)
Bart’s CD Cellar (Pearl Street mall, Boulder, CO)
Don’t take our word for it…
They’re hands-down the best live act — from Denver or from anywhere — that I’ve seen in some time.” -John Zwick, Yourhub.com.
“For their sound is the song of a million middle century charms playing as one grand symphony. Their sound is black and white twentieth century America at its best. It is the world smiling. It is the world singing.” -Jonathon Bitz, Syntax Magazine.
“Any seven-person band that lacks a drummer and still tugs at your soul simply stands out – no matter what your musical preferences. …This band is a must-see!” – Denver Women’s Examiner
“They make audiences feel love, excitement, and passion. A show not to be missed, a band that must be heard: Paper Bird is one of a kind.” -tahoe.com
“With guitar, banjo, and trombone backing joyous harmonies, the folk orchestra cuts softly but surely through indie-rock coolness. Paper Bird’s debut CD Anything Nameless and Joymaking, came out last year, and it deftly captures the warmth and wonder of the band’s stage presence.” -The Onion A.V. Club
“Paper Bird is at the very top of my list. I’m hopelessly smitten with the vocals of this trio of ladies (Esme and Genevieve Patterson and Sarah Anderson) and the pastoral backdrops created by their male counterparts (guitarist Paul DeHaven and Tyler Archuletta and Caleb Summeril, on trombone and banjo, respectively). Imagine a more beguiling Jolie Holland with the sublime, mellifluous, old-timey harmonies of the Chordettes. This is music to fall in love to – or with, as the case may be.” -Dave Herrera, The Westword
“…onstage the members of Paper Bird don’t just look like they get along or play well together, they look like they love each other. They look like they’re having a great time. When they take the stage, the love spreads through the crowd like a beautiful case of pinkeye, and unless you’re the coldest bastard since Leona Helmsley, you will be infected. Symptoms include giggling, Snoopy dancing, and stranger-hugging.” -Jef Otte, The UCD Advocate
“In the midst of mainstream bands hot off the production line, we find Paper Bird, a musical manifestation of the roots and philosophy that Coloradans share.” -Josie Dembiczac, The Boulder Weekly