Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird played an inspired set at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival last weekend, full of both old-time charm and new-age sounds — and, of course, whistling. He played a show packed with songs from 2012′s Hands of Glory, as well as jam-heavy songs like “Imitosis” from 2007′s Armchair Apocrypha and the lighter “Eyeoneye” off Break it Yourself. EW caught up with Bird before his show at the legendary music hall Tipitina’s and talked about New Orleans, his ties to classical music, and how he connects to his growing worldwide fan base.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’ve spent a lot of time in New Orleans. What’s special about this city and playing here?
ANDREW BIRD: This is my first time at Jazz Fest. I never really lived here but I almost did. I spent a lot of time here in the late ’90s working at Kingsway [Studios]. It always felt like I got out just in time. It is just such a heavy place. Just touring in the south, you always have more stories to come back with.
I used to run around and play with a lot of street musicians. [New Orleans] attracts a lot of people from all over that have an ear for that old country blues, traditional music, and these guys just run around and play on street corners and at bars for tips, and I kind of fell into that scene a bit. That was when I was deeply into it; the guys here really knew the field.
READ FULL STORY