Local band Little Bird has been on the road a lot over the past year, from New Orleans to New York. But the band is coming home to Charleston for its album-release show, performing at 8 p.m. March 29 at the Music Farm.
The album is "Familiar," and for anyone “familiar” with the band’s previous release, 2015’s "Groove," you’ll notice a slightly more groomed sound.
The band has been described as surf rock/jazz/Americana, but over the years, Little Bird’s sound has become even more eclectic, especially on the new album. “We’ve grown into different genres,” says guitarist James Rubush. “There’s definitely more R&B, hip-hop kind of beats, but every song on the album has its own sound to it. So it’s kind of hard to characterize.”
That being the case, the group is drawing from a wide array of influences. “We’re pulling from Americana, from jazz, from pop music, from neo-soul,” says Rubush. “But one thing that ties everything together: It’s got groove. It’s all about the pulse and making people dance and sing.”
The final touch in perfecting that distinct sound was adding keyboardist Noah Jones to the band this past fall. And Rubush sees him possibly having an even bigger role in the future. “Noah’s a pretty productive songwriter, so I think he’s probably going to bring a lot of tracks to the next album.”
Up to this point, Little Bird’s songs, including those on "Familiar," have been primarily composed by singer/guitarist Jay Hurtt. His process is recording demos at home using Ableton recording software and then sharing the resulting tunes with the rest of the group for artistic input.
“Jay has always been the primary songwriter in the group,” says Rubush. “Everybody kind of writes their own parts to the songs, but the vibe, the melody, the idea is usually generated by Jay.”
Other band members include Ben Mossman on bass, Shelby McDaniel on vocals and Oleg Terentiev on drums.
It’s the same sextet that plays on "Familiar." All that time in the studio, along with a hefty touring schedule, has allowed the group to more freely experiment as they perform live.
“We have a decent ability to improvise, so that can take the show wherever,” says Rubush. But he’s quick to point out that they’re not veering too far from the beaten path. “It’s not all exactly how it is on the album, but we’re playing the same songs, so they’re coming out pretty close.”
The other bands joining the bill for the show at the Music Farm are Florida-based Ellameno Beat, a reggae-fueled roots group, and local quartet Rare Creatures.
Rubush had met Rare Creatures’ front man Coleman Sawyer while doing some tracking for the new album at Fairweather Studios. And his words about Sawyer, and Rare Creatures, were glowing. “I know he’s a great dude,” says Rubush. “And his band makes (really) good music.”
After the show at the Music Farm, Little Bird hits the road again, with shows the next two nights in Columbia and Charlotte. Life on the road can be tough but, “We make it work, man. We really do,” says Rubush. “Everybody just kind of puts their nose down and we just go for it. We believe in the sound and it’s worth the work, for sure.”