Arvel Bird (Paiute / Me’tis)
Native Fiddler / Flutist
Media Only: July, 2005
Kimberly Kelley, (615) 406-3689
Arvel Bird (Paiute/Me’tis), a classically-trained violinist, performs and records in a number of diverse genres including blues, jazz, bluegrass, Celtic, Cajun, Western swing, American roots, and Native music. In addition to the violin, Bird also is an accomplished mandolin, guitar and Native flute player. An experienced musician who toured the world with Glen Campbell, Loretta Lynn, Ray Price and others for several years, Bird recently has turned his musical focus to his Paiute/Me’tis heritage, and now focuses most of his time on writing, performing, and recording music which reflects that background.
Bird has recorded seven CD’s. His most recent are Arvel Bird Live! (2004), a CD which features his popular stories from his live performances including selections from Animal Totems (2002), a collection of original works which each reflect the essential elements of a powerful animal spirit; and Big Chief Quetoos, Paiute Country Fiddle (2003), a collection of Arvel’s original tunes as well as old cowboy songs and traditional fiddle tunes with Indian names. Rakish Paddy (2002) is a collection of Celtic tunes from the 16th through 19th centuries played on traditional instruments. My Cabin Don’t Leak (2002), with Bird on fiddle, vocals by Fred Rothert, and Billy Ray Lilly on banjo, features fiddle music, bringing to mind a front porch jam session in the Appalachian mountains. Birdstock: Fiddle Tunes for the Birds (2001) is an eclectic mix of Texas fiddle, bluegrass, Celtic and jazz tunes all named for birds. Draggin’ the Bow (1981), Bird’s first recording, features his original composition entitled “The Breakfast Suite,” a piece which was premiered at a concert by the Fort Wayne Philharmonic.
Early life and education:
From the age of nine, Bird knew what he wanted to do with his life-he wanted to play the trumpet. With no funds for a trumpet available, Bird was presented with his first violin, an instrument given to his mother by a violin maker named Joseph Smithbauer. Bird and the violin were soon inseparable, although the instrument’s size challenged the young player. Bird’s family recognized his special gift, and were eventually able to provide him with private lessons. Bird continued to study classically on a music scholarship to Arizona State University. Though his desire was to develop his performance skills, each and every professor he encountered told him he wasn’t “good enough” to perform and that he should concentrate on teaching instead. Bird’s response was to leave Arizona and move to the mid-west to study with Paul Roland, a renowned Hungarian violin instructor at the University of Illinois-Champagne/Urbana. Under Roland’s tutelage, Bird gained the technical proficiency and confidence that has served him so well over the years.
The foundations of Bird’s musical style:
It was after leaving school in 1973 that Bird found his true musical calling. During this period, Bird devoted hours of each day to improvisational playing, developing the unique style for which he is known today. As his style developed, Bird was invited to play with many folk, bluegrass, and Celtic musicians. According to Bird, “I was attracted to the wild abandon of fiddle music. Eventually, as I continued performing, a tribal feeling and Celtic style began running through most of my own compositions resonating from deep inside of me.” Ironically, at this time, Bird was unaware of his Scottish heritage, and had not yet explored his Native American roots.
Bird’s exploration of his American Indian roots:
Born to a Mormon inter-racial family in Idaho and raised in Utah and Arizona, Bird was aware of his Indian heritage from an early age, but, like many families in that time and place, Indian heritage was not mentioned, let alone celebrated. Bird grew up as part of a hard working, middle-class family and out of fear of his mother’s reaction, he never asked her about her Native origins. As an adult, Bird became more and more interested in his background, eventually donating time and resources to a project aimed at protecting ancient Native burial sites in Tennessee. In 2000, Bird released the first Native American album that simultaneously launched Singing Wolf Records. This sparked the beginning of his personal journey to uncover the truth about his Paiute heritage. In the summer of 2001, Bird received documentation previously unknown to him from his mother supporting his bloodline to the Shivwit Paiute tribe in Southern Utah. The effect this discovery has made on Bird has been profound.
He made trips to St. George, UT and the Shivwit Paiute reservation where he met half sisters (cousins), searched and studied his genealogy, attended powwows and talked to elders, all the while finding a stronger affinity and connection to the underlying core beliefs of Native America and a deepening sense of who he was. Since then all of his performances have reflected and honored his Native American heritage through his music and stories.
For more information on Bird, the public may vist: www.arvelbird.com
Bird’s CD’s are available at www.arvelbird.com, www.singingwolfrecords.com, www.amazon.com, www.cdbaby.com, select Borders and Tower Records, Native American and New Age stores worldwide.
The press may contact Kimberly Kelley at (615) 406-3689 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.