Article and Photos by: Andrew Kopanski
Cambridge, MA — Wallis Bird plays a right handed guitar upside down. But that’s hardly the most unique thing about her. She lost five of the fingers on her left hand at 18 months old, a defining moment that even after having four of them repaired led her to develop a unique and powerful style all her own. She’s found her calling, as she is nearing 1000 shows in support of her five albums, with a sixth due later this year. Wallis Bird is an incredible performer with a stage presence so much greater than her one-woman show. She captivates the audience with her stories, dad jokes, and raw musical talent.
She starts with a slow song, joking that she’ll work up to faster songs soon but first needs to let everyone including herself digest a bit. Tonight’s show is at Club Passim, a small intimate venue in the heart of Cambridge known for talented artists and excellent vegetarian food. “Home” is a delicate, heartfelt song, sung without any instruments. Bird sets up a couple vocal loops and sings quietly from center stage, yet her voice has a captivating intensity.
A chicken crows from the back of the room as everyone looks around to see who forgot to set their phone to silent. Bird laughs and explains that she was supposed to call her mother back earlier, her “mother hen” about who she wrote the next song, “Change.”
She picks up her signature guitar for “Love, Respect, Peace” off her upcoming album, with a title to match the writing on her shirt. This theme persists across much of her work, particularly on her new album Woman. This new album also shows a more bluesy side to her music and why she has such a reputation for breaking strings on her guitar.
Wallis Bird is continuing her short trip through the US before she returns overseas for many shows continuing through next year. Check her out at a city near you!