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Arts and Entertainment Thursday, May 8, 2014 6 years ago

Free birds: Passerine's Americana tradition

by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

Every musical genre has its lyrical staples and recurring themes. The blues has trains; country music has heartbreak. Passerine has birds. Which is appropriate, considering its name:  a scientific categorization of bird that includes more than half of all avian species. The band offers a tongue-in-cheek nod at the recurring theme in, "Another Song About a Bird," on the album by the same name.

"We write a lot of songs about birds," says singer and guitarist, Carmela Pedicini, with a laugh. "'Free Bird' is actually on our list of cover songs to learn — people shout it out that often."

Describing its sound as Americana, Passerine incorporates country, folk and bluegrass influences to maintain a traditional genre of musical storytelling that dates back to the 19th century.

"It's a really simple style of music," says dobro player, David Brain. "But there's also a lot of subtlety and a lot of ability to present a narrative and give it all kinds of humane overtones as you tell a story. I also think acoustic instruments and the natural human voice are a fundamentally powerful combination."

After Pedicini and Brain formed the band in 2009, they explored the traditional songwriting styles of the genre, while also exploring a series of lineup changes. Currently, the band consists of Brain, Pedicini, Sara Moone on violin and Andrés Colin on upright bass. In the new lineup, the members say they've shifted their focus toward more collaborative songwriting and incorporating more of their individual backgrounds.

However, they say at the root of it all, storytelling remains king.

"It's important and it's compelling, and its never going to go away," says Moone of the genre. "There are always going to be stories to tell, and this music seems to be the ideal vehicle for it."

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