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From historic downtown Plymouth, Indiana, where the Lincoln Highway and Michigan Road cross the banks of the beautiful Yellow River, it's The Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour. It airs the first Monday of the month at 7 PM on 88.1 WVPE.

Monday Night Special at 7pm-Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour: Humbird

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Wild Rose Moon
Humbird

Siri Undlin’s band, Humbird, delivers a heartfelt performance of four of her artfully arranged and well-written songs during the Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour. With the soul of a poet and a facility for arranging, and spurred by her producer and multi-instrumentalist bandmate, Adie Strei, Undlin’s work transcends the folk/Americana genre in ways that surprise the ear and expand the heart.

In her first song, May, Siri’s voice trembles inside a cavernous reverb–it's an entreat to a broken relationship, or perhaps a lost part of oneself. “May you find your river/May it take you all the way/May you whisper all the things that I couldn’t say.” As the steady arpeggiation of the guitar drives the song, a glass harp on the synth rises as the lyrics unfold in an anxious irony–the month of May morphing into the auxiliary verb, giving permission, bestowing possibility, expressing contingency, or offering a prayer. The song is intense and unveiling, multi-layered, and intensely poetic.

Still Life,” Siri explains, “was created in a houseful of musicians. We were all marooned together by Covid and situated smack dab in the middle of the Minneapolis neighborhood where George Floyd was killed.” Thus the title of the album cuts multiple ways- “Still,” in all its multiple meanings. Dead still. Still quiet. Still alone. Too still. Still, if only. To bring life to stillness.

In her jazzy, Plum Sky, there’s a shaking out of fear, a struggle to survive amongst this sense of stillness, and a sense of imprisonment and vulnerability: “Turn my body around. I make heat. I make sound. Shadows on the wall–echoes off the ground.” The song is edgy, mechanical, angry, and filled with tribal rhythm and noises. There’s nothing “Still” about it; it’s restless and sassy. It wants to break out of stillness and to face it.

Unlin’s tribute to the Folk legend, John Prine (who died of complications from Covid) is nothing short of masterful–channeling its voice directly from the cosmos where he now resides. Undlin remarks, “There was a big pink moon hanging in the sky the night he died. I had a beer and just wrote the song.” It’s a beautiful and moving song about being human and struggling with one’s human foibles and mortality. The last stanza is just about perfect:

Tomorrow I will try again, to not break and simply bend, with the wind and the rain and the distant stars and the distant sun lighting up the dark.  I suppose that’s all anyone can do, and if you promise me, I’ll promise you.  To revel in the beauty and howl like a fool, and raise my cup to the big pink moon.

In the final song of the set, Siri continues her master class in songwriting with the song, Summer Storm for Charlotte. She introduces, “There was teargas in the streets and rubber bullets all around and helicopters flying overhead, and here’s Charlotte, our next-door neighbor who was five, she’s learning to ride her bike, undeterred by the chaos.” The arrangement features the lonesome sound of the saxophone, and the lyrics are direct and true. “Charlotte, you’re gettin’ the hang of it . . . Charlotte you’re brave enough to know what you want from a moment.” Later, as the storm approaches, Charlotte bangs her knee and is still trying. The song shifts, “Maybe in the downpour, things will change.” Indeed, all of these songs seem to contain hope for change at their core. Their viewpoint, much like Prine’s, is in the sacredness of moving out of the everyday observations of what’s simply happening all around us. It’s what we experience when we allow for our own stillness. It is the gift Siri Undlin brings to us with this new body of work.

Also on the program, Humbird’s own, Adelyn Strei, performs her passionate song, Perhaps, during the show’s intermission. She sings, “He whispers, or perhaps is just careful with words. In my ears, perhaps, it was a feeling.” The song unreels as a secret told to oneself. “I need to learn to be alone, in the cross-breeze of the morning, perhaps.” Adelyn’s voice is masterful, sounding almost like the glass harp she played earlier. It’s intimate and whispering and pulls us in. The song leads us to believe in the secret “perhaps,” she seems to be sharing.

You can catch Siri Undlin and her band Humbird (with bassist Pat Keen and percussionist Peter Quirsfeld) Monday, June 6th, on 88.1 WVPE at 7:00 pm EST. Or you can stream the webcast at wildrosemoonmedia YouTube or catch the live stream at wvpe.org.