Q&A with Paper Bird; Playing Smith’s Olde Bar September 12th

By Al Kaufman

It would be hard not to like the folks behind Colorado’s Paper Bird. They play a happy, rootsy, Americana sound with a touch of jam band sensibility. Their use of trumpet, trombone, banjo and vocal harmonies on songs such as “Spit Spot” add a jazzy, old-timey feel to their easily digestible pop nuggets.  Included in their three CD output is 2011’s Carry On, a score for the Ballet Nouveau Colorado.

Paper Bird is a seven-member collective. They are, Mark Anderson (drums), Sarah Anderson (voice, trumpet), Paul DeHaven (guitar), Esme Collins (voice), Genevieve Patterson (voice), Caleb Summeril (banjo, guitar), and Macon Terry (bass). They are listed alphabetically because there is no true leader. They all play a role in songwriting and they complement each other’s styles well. Because it was his turn to do an interview, Summeril answered some questions for Atlanta Music Guide:

Where did the name come from?

The name is pretty random.  We were all sitting around a table saying the first word that came to mind in a circle until we got something that fit.  After dozens of pretty lame word combinations, Paper Bird slipped out and we ran with it.

You have an interesting band dynamic; four boys and three girls, and no real leader. Is there ever friction in the band? How to decisions get worked out?

There has been friction from time to time but nothing that we haven’t been committed to working out. Most of the time, we all get along great and when problems arise we can usually deal with things quickly and effectively. When you’re bunked up with six other people in a 10×10 space you’ve got to handle things fast. Our decision process is pretty democratic. We try to get a unanimous decision on most things but if it comes down to it, majority rules.

How did Carry On come about?  Is it different when you know you are writing for a ballet?

Carry On came about when Garrett Amon [artistic director of Ballet Noveau Colorado] myspaced us and asked if we’d be interested in playing some songs that he could choreograph to. He was expecting us to use old material but instead we came up with a bunch of new tunes and made and album out of it. The writing process was a bit different keeping in mind that it was going to be a ballet. We had room to explore more instrumental breaks and other stuff that you wouldn’t find in your normal folk or pop song. It was an new and exciting writing experience.

You’re on the road a lot. Is there ever a time when you get sick of it?

Ah, the road; she’s a beautiful temptress. I personally have yet to get sick of it and I think the rest of the band would agree. It has its ups and downs for sure, but the mystery of what’s around each bend is enough to keep you rolling almost endlessly.

Paper Bird plays Smith’s Olde Bar on Wednesday, September 12th.


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