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Birds of Play bring their Colorado sound to TACAW on Saturday

Birds of Play will perform at TACAW on Saturday.
Sarah Schwab / Photo Credit

For their first set of shows since October, the Colorado-based Americana quartet Birds of Play will perform at TACAW on Saturday night, a show that has been in the works for quite some time, according to guitarist, mandolin player, singer, songwriter, and self-described “felicitous facilitator” Alex Paul.

Saturday’s show will be one of six before the band goes back into the studio to record their fourth studio album. Friends and the Carbondale-based Red Hill Rollers will open the show.

“We tried to set a date at TACAW about a year ago, but the timing wasn’t right,” said Paul. “Finally, everything came together. I think it’s going to be a really nice, energetic fit with our music, and it’s something that we’ve been really excited about for a few months now.”



Paul, who is from Littleton, began his musical journey at a young age. His father performed with a barbershop quartet, and he recalled that almost every gathering his parents held in their home was filled with “a lot of singing.” At 13, he asked for an acoustic guitar, changing the direction of his life.

“I spent most of my years playing on acoustic guitar and really being drawn to stringed acoustic instruments and learned to play everything from bluegrass to singer songwriter stuff,” he said.




Three out of the four members hail from Colorado, including Glenwood Springs guitarist, mandolin player, and vocalist Jack Tolan, whose first experience playing music in a social setting began on a soccer field in Carbondale at Colorado Rocky Mountain School to the sound of pounding hand drums.

Tolan and Paul have been creating music together for years and credit their music for how they “interact with and understand each other.” A few years ago, they formed Birds of Play, adding bass player Eric Shedd and Denver-based violinist Anneke Dean.

Birds of Play Murmurations Vol. 2.
Courtesy

Because of Tolan’s connection to the Roaring Fork Valley (His parents still live here), Birds of Play consider this a second home to their main base of Telluride. Since all four members live in various locations, this is often the place they convene to rehearse and reconnect before going on tour.

Living in different locations poses its challenges, but the band is clever about using technology for rehearsals and recording.

“We’ve never all lived in the same place,” explained Paul. “So generally, what we do in between tours when we’re writing new material, we’ll record it on our phones and upload it to Google Drive, and then, everyone separately will learn the foundation of the song. And then, we’ll get together a couple of few days before each tour and rehearse and work on new material and do all the arranging and make the songs into band songs.”

Birds of Play, from L-R, Alex Paul, Eric Shedd, Anneke Dean and Jack Tolan.
Sarah Schwabb/ Photo Credit

Their music has an acoustic, mellow, string sound with no percussionist and has been referred to as “quintessentially Coloradan.” Paul credited this to the inspiration they derive from the diverse and rugged land that makes up the state, as well as the culture of Colorado.

“We’ve got a lot of just kind of tried-and-true Colorado songs that are literally just based on land and liquid and especially down in the San Juan region, specifically, and the Colorado Plateau more generally,” he said. “My whole life is informed by the state, the culture, and communities. There’s just like a gentleness to the pace of life here and a cadence to our music that I think stems from the cadence of life in Colorado.”

If you go…

What: Birds of Play
Where: TACAW
When: Saturday, Jan. 14, 8 p.m.
More Info and Tickets: tacaw.org/calendar/birds-of-play/

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