When live music shut down in the middle of 2020, Siri Undlin, otherwise known as Humbird, knew there was a creative way to still connect with music. Last fall her trio of Pete Quirsfeld and Pat Keen embarked to backyards. Acoustically setup, the trio shared songs and told folklore stories around fires, on porches, and in small circles of neighborhood friends. These shows continued until it was too cold to feel their fingers and they paused until 2021.
Siri shares that the first ones they did were very emotional. For many people, it was their first time seeing live music in months. There’s something deeply communal about hearing music together in groups. Safely distanced and limiting attendance, the trio has done over 60 of these backyard shows in just under a year. Finally being able to host one of these special shows reveals how innovative and yet instinctual storytelling goes back in our history.
The intention behind the shows is one that has run through our linage as human beings. Generations before us, humans would gather around fires to tell stories, talk, and connect through some of the toughest situations. This happened through plagues and natural disasters. These shows provide a way to spark that relation once again, proving that we’ll get through the tough times together.
“Songs and stories mold into moments, shape-shift to be what we need, enchant even the darkest nights, and find us, and bring us home, wherever we’re at. These crafts are everyday magic we can use to gather courage and hope,” Humbird describes.
The shows are all ages and inevitably pull in neighbors, close friends, and the occasional pets. The trio carries along a collection of percussion and stringed instruments to sweeten the stories with sound effects and suspense. Without microphones, you hear Siri’s full character and range in her voice. Each guitar strum and drum beat hits more intimately with the wind swirling around everyone.
For her, Siri states that it’s a renewed experience being able to see the faces of the audience. No venue lights in her eyes, she can watch the reactions and bridge a bond with the attendees. It’s fulfilling being able to witness music being heard, especially when each show is uniquely different. The story she shared with us was about Shellycoat, a mythical type of bogeyman, and a lady that encounters his pranks firsthand. In the end, the lady and Shellycoat become friends by putting aside what happened and appreciating the company of others.
Humbird is set to release her second full-length album “Still Life” on October 15th, so these backyard shows will be paused once more until 2022. In the meantime, you can hear the newest single “May” and see Siri at Icehouse every Wednesday in November, celebrating the new album. I highly encourage you to attend and be enchanted.