home music movies see me use me bio epk tools lessons contact


Michael Barclay: radio free canuckistan. May 8 2014

Jeff Bird – Rhythm and Entertainment: Recordings 1983-2009 (independent)

If you’ve seen live music in Guelph, K-W or Elora in the past 35 years, you’ve most likely seen Jeff Bird. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have seen him with the Cowboy Junkies since 1988. Before that band’s success and whenever he’s had free time since, Bird has been a very, very busy man. He was a founder of Canadian folk group Tamarack, does regular jazz gigs and had a long-standing collaboration with fiddler Riki Gee, some of Bird’s many sides that appear on this career retrospective of sorts.

On his own, however, Bird gets up to all kinds of experimental weirdness: improv with shakuhachi and drums, cinematic ambience, some straight-up country shuffles, experimental dub reggae, francophone folklore, spoken-word dream recollections set to music, and gorgeous harmonica and harmonium duets. You know, the usual. The stunner is “Little Hooves,” a piano ballad from his 1997 album featuring vocalist Nick Craine, followed closely by a take on Hank Williams’s "Rambling Man," featuring Tony Quarrington on vocals.

In the background of "Mu Blues," you can hear a dinner audience blithely ignoring Bird’s jazz combo, gabbing away despite the fiery fingerwork of pianist Witold Grabowiecki. The track is indicative of Bird: always around, politely ignored, inconspicuous, and indifferent as to how he might be blowing the minds of anyone who cares to listen.

Jason Lent. No Depression 5 june 2014


Brian Bowman Buzzcity 17 june 2014

Jeff Bird, of Cowboy Junkies fame, has released “Rhythm and Entertainment”, a two CD compilation of his own music spanning some 30 years. The 20 track collection covers numerous genres including folk, jazz, rock, world, and electronica, all made with the help of many other musicians.

“I’ve always been interested in any type of music going,” said Jeff. “A lot of these pieces are the result of meetings with players and bringing them together to do a project.


“Meeting new players has always been my favourite thing to do. There are pieces on the record that have Shakuhachi (Japanese Flute). Well, a good friend of mine from high school moved to Japan and we lost touch for 30 years. And then we reconnected and he’s been over a couple of times He called me and said he had a friend who is a traditional Korean drummer, and coincidentally, he’s the artist in Residence at the University of Guelph. That’s where I am. So we hooked up, and I just played with him last night. He’s a modern contemporary guy who is trained in traditional drumming and singing. And there was an ensemble of different players, so, we got to play together. That’s what I tried to get across in the CD, that sort of meeting of players.”

Bird is a talented performer on a wide range of instruments, his compositions are challenging and his taste in music is diverse. So, the title ‘Rhythm and Entertainment’ seems to lack inspiration. But it reflects an old understatement – Bird borrowed it from an old letter posted in a dressing room at Coney Island Amusement Park that pitches an up-and-coming Perry Como as a good fit because his show offered both ‘rhythm and entertainment’.

Como offered ‘something for everyone’ and there is something for everyone on Bird’s presentation, too, because he covers so many genres. But that’s where it ends. Jeff Bird is way too adventurous to support any further comparison with Perry Como. Over the past 30 years Bird has issued 15 recordings of his own work in collaboration with other players. He has also appeared as a session player and or producer on over 100 other recordings including two Juno winners: Heartstrings by Willie P Bennett and Yellow Jacket by Stephen Fearing. He also makes short experimental movies, and works with still photography, origami and other art media.

 “I guess it was in the back of my mind to do a ‘best of’ thing. But it actually came pretty easily. All of the things I picked are pieces I’ve always really, really, liked,” said Bird. “It’s my CV. All of the pieces have been digitized. The only ones that weren’t were the two Tamarack pieces. (from 1983: pre-Cowboy Junkies days) And, those two, I actually recorded off a vinyl record because we didn’t have any tapes. The tapes were gone.” They were both virgin copies, he added, from one album, and the packaging had never been opened. “Even so,” he conceded, “there’s clicks and pops on’em.”

But he defends that, saying:

“People argue back and forth about what’s the best format. And, as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t really matter, because it’s about the performance. We listen to stuff from old 78s, and if it’s rocking, you love it.”

Time has not diminished Bird’s insatiable appetite for new music, new instruments. Currently, he’s trying to play the Shakuhachi.

“And its kicking my ass!” he said. “It’s a bamboo tube with the end sharpened. The range of sounds you can get out of it is just incredible, but it doesn’t come easy. The thing I like about it is it’s not about notes and melody, like western music. It’s like each note is an event, kind of a little painting unto itself. Shakuhachi is really just a measurement. Hachi is eight and shaku is a measurement, like a foot, so, it’s one point eight shakus. Really, that’s all it means. But it sounds good.”

So does “Rhythm and Entertainment.” The hard copy is two CDs with ten tracks on each side and is not available in stores. You can purchase a download or order a hard copy online at:

Victoria King Stylus Magazine 14 oct 2014


the moment it passed through my hands at the August Stylus Contributor meeting, I was intrigued by Rhythm and Entertainment. The cover art is simple, symmetric, and boasts an impressive longevity (albeit of recordings from someone I’d never heard of) but I thought, this could be good. Rhythm and Entertainment is a two disc retrospective of Jeff Bird’s thirty years in the music industry – the main difference between discs being that disc two is more introspective and experimental with repetition and spoken word/vocals. Musically, Bird excels in every way. He’s accredited to five different kinds of bass on the release as well as eleven additional instruments (including the lap steel, mandolin, melodica, and tarka to name a few).  Genre-wise, there’s no uniformity. There’s a mix of soul, swing, and worldly sounds throughout. Over the years he’s played with the Cowboy Junkies, worked in film and television, and now, should you ever find yourself in the Kingston area, he offers music lessons for the mandolin, harmonica and bass. The album was recorded at multiple locations, including live at Manhattan Pizza Studio and the “Ty Tyrfu” (don’t know where that is exactly, but it is Welsh for “house of noise and commotion”). Astounding in more than the musical sense, Bird’s humble website is an endearing accompaniment to satisfy all the questions you may ever have about him. Rhythm and Entertainment is an entertaining retrospective highlighting a superbly skilled musician. (Independent, Victoria King

home music movies see me use me bio epk tools lessons contact