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Monday, June 22, 2009

After Turbulence, The Wildbirds Fly Again

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"It was like hooking up with an ex-girlfriend; it was like, 'Why did we break up?'" Nicholas Stuart reflects on that one, chance occurrence after a major breakup. This particular occurrence? An impromptu practice. The major breakup? His roots-rock band, The Wildbirds. After calling it quits following a tough time on the road, a musical rendezvous with former band mate Hugh Masterson was clearly the right way to make amends.

"There was a lot going on, emotionally, because we hadn't seen each other for six months," Stuart says.

The reunion was not only sweet; it tied up some major loose ends. Stuart had made a break from both his home state and from the band that hit its stride at the same time it hit a rough patch, while on tour for its last record, Golden Daze.
"I'm super-proud of Golden Daze, but we broke up three months after the record came out," Stuart says. "In reality, we didn't really give it much of a shot, but we were exhausted. We had converted an airport shuttle bus to run on vegetable oil, and it wore us out keeping that up-it ended up breaking down in northern Ontario and we left it on the side of the road.

"We were all just wiped out and broke and had to get away from it," he continues. "I was in Louisiana and got a call that my dad had been in an accident, and that's when I flew back to play Brady Street Fest. Then, I flew back to Louisiana and waited tables and then moved out to Portland for three months, and got really depressed, so I came back to Milwaukee.

"Time seems to pass by more quickly when you're just working, waiting tables. Six months in a van seems like six years," he concludes.

Touring, although intense, still hadn't completely lost its appeal to the remaining Wildbirds. With Masterson in tow, Stuart recruited two new members to once again make The Wildbirds a working band: Jon Phillip (The Benjamins, Limbeck) and Quinn Scharber. Stuart is confident the band will hit the ground running.
"To me, music is a bit like sex," he says. "It can be just 'OK' if there's not a certain dynamic. Hugh and I just hit it off-it's that unspoken thing that only happens with certain people. When we started to play together again, it felt like home. There wasn't the forced awkwardness of a new relationship, so it was really important to find two people who we could hang out with, number one, and then really play with. You hang out 80% of the time. If you get in a room and there's no connection or conversation, it's just not going to work."

With Phillip and Scharber kicking the cohesive dynamics of the band up a notch, The Wildbirds will be firing on all cylinders. They've already added new material to the existing Golden Daze repertoire and are on the roster of several upcoming shows and festivals. This summer, more than ever, The Wildbirds will be living up to their album's name-it's not just a working title.

The Wildbirds play the Cascio Interstate Music Groove Garage at Summerfest on Monday, June 29, at 9:30 p.m.

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