When not playing music, Birds of Play members like to hit Moab’s trails. [Photo courtesy of Alex Paul]

Temperatures are dropping and the season of bird migrations is upon us – and there’s one group of birds that’s going to be singing in Moab for one night only this week: the Birds of Play. The band is wrapping up a tour playing venues in the Central Rockies and the Western Slope with a performance at the Moab Backyard Theater (56 W. 100 South) on Friday, Sept. 25, starting at 7 p.m. There is no cost to enter, but a donation of $10 to $20 is suggested.

Birds of Play members are multi-instrumentalists and singers as well as close friends whose original music showcases the blended influences of blues, bluegrass, folk, and funk acts like the Wood Brothers, Gregory Alan Isakov and Mandolin Orange. The band describes itself on its website as “a musical collaboration born from a mutual love of desert canyons, raging rivers, rocky mountaintops, and juice picnics.”

Juice picnics?

“The phrase was actually coined on a canyon frolic in Moab,” said band member Alex Paul, explaining that the group jokes that their adventures (in which they carry backpacks containing, amongst other things, bottles of juice) to beautiful places are really just elaborate schemes to enjoy drinking juice in scenic locales.

More stories about their lives are woven into the band’s performances, Paul said, particularly things that have shaped the players’ connections with nature. Along with storytelling, the band members banter with each other and the crowd.

Paul said the band has been playing together for about two years, and Moab played a part in its formation – band members would get together a few times a year to “ride bikes and play in canyons” and then would play music around the campfire in the evening. The band arose organically from those evening campfire music sessions.

Paul said he plays acoustic guitar, mandolin and bass; Jack Tolan plays acoustic and electric guitar and mandolin; Eric Shedd plays upright bass, mandolin and acoustic guitar; and new member Anneka Dean plays the violin.

Paul said the band is looking forward to its first time playing at the Backyard Theater.

“We really like playing intimate, music-centered spaces,” he said, adding that with pandemic restrictions the band’s tour has consisted of such smaller, outdoor places.

Birds of Play’s debut album, Anthrophony, was released last year, and the band has plans to record again in the near future. More information about the band can be found on its website, birdsofplaymusic.com. The website also has recordings of over a dozen songs that may be listened to for free. The band also has a page that allows fans to become sponsors and receive access to exclusive content: www.patreon.com/birdsofplay.

Traveling band offers storytelling and song

When: Friday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m.

Where: Moab Backyard Theater (56 W. 100 South, Moab)

Cost: $10-20 suggested donation

Contact: birdsofplaymusic.com; Birds of Play Facebook page

“We really like playing intimate, music-centered spaces.”

– Alex Paul