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The “Birds of Play” bring joy and music to TACAW

Musicians pose with string instruments in a mountain landscape.
Sarah Schwab
/
Courtesy of Birds of Play
The Birds of Play incorporate joy and an appreciation for nature into their music. The band will perform at The Arts Campus at Willits on Jan. 14.

If you’re tuned into the Roaring Fork Valley’s live music scene, you might already be familiar with the Americana folk band “Birds of Play.”

Though the four members of the Birds of Play live in three different places for part of the year — two are based in Telluride, one is in Durango and another lives in Jackson, Wyoming — the band is all in one place when they’re on tour throughout the mountain west. They’ll be stopping at The Arts Campus at Willits (TACAW) on Saturday night for a performance of Americana, folk and bluegrass music with the Carbondale band Red Hill Rollers slated for the opening act.

Guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Alex Paul said the valley feels like a “second home” to the quartet, which has members based in Telluride, Durango and Jackson, Wyoming. (Band member Jack Tolan, who plays guitar and mandolin and sings, has deep roots in the valley and started playing music in social settings on the Colorado Rocky Mountain School campus in Carbondale.)

According to Paul, the Carbondale area is one of their favorite places to play, from socially-distanced concerts in the woods near Thompson Creek to sessions at Steve’s Guitars and True Nature Healing Center.

Paul says those Thompson Creek shows were an effort to “joyfully gather” in a difficult time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said joy plays a “fundamental role” in the band’s music, and that he has a disposition in songwriting and in life toward “the positive and the joyous, and the exuberance and the celebration of this weird and mysterious journey that we're all on together.”

“Trying to share some of that outlook with people when there's a lot of heaviness and uncertainty in the world feels valuable and worth doing,” Paul said.

As you might have guessed from the name of the band and the places its members live and play, the spirit of the outdoors plays a key role in the birds’ approach to music.

“For us, the role of the natural world and how we navigate our lives and explore who we are, both as individuals and community members, it can't be underestimated,” Paul said.

The band aims to promote that philosophy through their “composition, presentation and lyricism” in an effort to “share some of the reverence and majesty that we feel in the hopes that it has the potential to inspire more folks to show up and care more and feel more connected to the land that we inhabit,” he said.

Tickets for the show are available through TACAW for $20 in advance or $25 on the day of the show.

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Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.