Welcome: The Beginning

so.......i am at heart a maker of songs. along the way comes alot of things that inspire my life's work. with some positive push by the closest of friends i bring you this spot for sharing with you the world and my birdie-isms. this is a hope you are all well and wondrous...here we go....love, birdie busch

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Old Jeans and Eskimos: What's your Vintage?

I got a pair of jeans yesterday at a second hand shop that I've calculated to be about 35 years old. I used to just go into these shops and think “Oh, I’m buying the old things,” but now I actually think about how old my vintage is. My “vintage” will be for someone down the line “crazy old” and my clothes will be their “vintage”. Time is such a peculiar thing. I have a locket of my grandmother’s grand mom from the 1800’s. This seems to be my oldest thing. Although last year I took off a dresser knob from a dresser on the trash that had inscribed in the back of the metal piece “90” as if to say the year and I know it wasn’t 1990. 

I live next to a used furniture store. When I lived in the country it was a tombstone store I lived next to, and I wrote a song about it that closes my second album Penny Arcade. I had been going through a hard time in my life and I would take walks through the cemetery and study the graves, my favorite was a man who had his big old Cadillac etched into his stone. I haven’t written a song about the furniture store but as with anything that is there to run through your head just for the fact that you see it everyday it tends to get to you, like the Eskimos and all their words for snow I have taken this store into my thoughts. 

The trash for both our buildings sits in a messy line right in between. The man who runs the store regularly puts furniture he deems unsellable out on the trash and then I decide if it’s reusable. Most furniture that comes in has had its drawers emptied but sometimes people leave things in the drawers and the man usually dumps it out into the trash. Piles of photos, undergarments, stationary. Once I found a stack of perfectly folded handmade handkerchiefs, probably from the 30’s and 40’s, and ran over to rescue them like he had put a live baby in the trashcan, and brought them upstairs and soaked them in a bucket. They were so delicate they almost disappeared in the water, when I went to stir them around it was like a layer of pudding skin. I get emotional about these finds, like it was my own family member that died and these were their things.

I am fascinated with the past. It’s interesting how some people get really into the past and some get really into the idea of the future. I’ve started to try and think about how people tend towards either and what is it in their own lives that have effected this preference or fascination. Like is a wealthy movie star who loves to surround themselves in a modern house with modern furniture trying to get away from reminders of aging and mortality? Does someone who loves old things feel afraid to let go of other things?

I started to realize that something I like about the past is that I can observe from it humans that came before me trying to work out the human condition. I can take it all in and see the things that are archetypes, timeless efforts and meanings. I feel the voices singing on the record player subconsciously saying “Ok, listen here, this is what I have to tell you” and then me listening in like it’s the words of a wise sage. We in America, do we really give the time of day to sages? Where are our huts exist to drink tea with a Wiseman? Who is your Wiseman or Wisewoman?

Pondering the past, Birdie Busch

Monday, January 25, 2010

I'm hosting a Philly Opry on February 12th!

The seed of an idea was long simmering, something discussed excitedly over coffee between Johnny Brenda’s booker Brandi Hartley and musician Birdie Busch. Brandi, inspired by a night of music she used to attend while living in Chicago called “Devil in the Woodpile” and Birdie by old television variety shows like that of Johnny Cash’s and Dick Cavett’s in the 70’s, made plans to have a night at Johnny Brenda’s that brought a lot of their co-conspiring to light. Thus we present the inaugural unarguable Philly Opry on Friday February 12th, the night of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and the kick-off for all St. Valentine weekenders with their dance cards eagerly in hand.

Hosting and performing the night with her band will be Birdie Busch, and joining her as featured acts will be local songsmith Scott Pryor and the traveling honky-tonk harmony-tastic Sweetback Sisters. Tying them all together like the fine embroidery of a nudie suit will be  Esposito Bandito and Sneaky Cheese weaving stories of Wild West Philly and other special guests. As you may have guessed, dressing up in your finest country flare is crazily encouraged and will be celebrated upon your arrival to the revival.

If there is a special place in your heart for everything from the Texas Swing dancehalls of the fifties to the eccentricities of Roger Miller, to the journeys and arrivals of American songwriters to the spirit of everlasting melodies, we recommend you come on out to this one time only affair. FEEL. HEAR. DO. Real time ya’ll. Take pictures. A thing to show grandkids of the future and weirdos who appreciate it…or weirdos ur grandkids bring
home and then will think you’re the coolest ever.  Time is a soft pretzel and our hearts broken bells ringing! Philly Opry!

Some words of wise description on the music for the night:

On Scott Pryor: “Scott Pryor is perhaps the finest acoustic songwriter in Philadelphia right now. On Theater for the Weary, Pryor’s sophomore disc, he masters folk tropes that many artists spend careers cultivating.” –Philadelphia Weekly

On the Sweetback Sisters: “Zara Bode and Emily Miller layer gorgeous girl-on-girl harmonies over swell honky-tonk melodies – the kind that make Loretta Lynn fans weep – and you just know you’re in for some hot and/or mournful fiddle. Trust us: These guys are brilliant.” -NBC New York
On Birdie Busch: “According to the geriatric tastemakers over at Travel & Leisure magazine, Philadelphia has the largest number of ugly people per capita of any city in the U.S. Apparently, no one told local girl Birdie Busch, who manages to chirp as if she were singer/songwriter in residence at Xanadu University. This brand of optimism might become annoying if not couched in the wry insinuations of Busch’s strikingly evolved lyrics, which share far more in common with Eudora Welty than Richard Simmons. a bewitching combination, to be sure.” –American Songwriter

What to expect:
Ben Franklin in Spurs
Story-Tellin and joyous yellin’
Raffles of Rhinestonedness and hand embroidered Philly-centric western wear
Cowboy Lincolns
painted backdrops to rival Oklahoma the musical
whisky rivers

Get your tickets at http://www.johnnybrenda's.com

Thursday, January 21, 2010

photo of the day.

taken at a lighthouse where we played a show outside under the full moon and slept on the tower..

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Serendipity, you're so dear to me..a goodnight wish

A man, who I haven’t seen for years, notices me putting up a poster in a coffee shop. He calls out my name, we exchange a few cheerful words. He invites me to sit down for tea and I decline, seeing the other walls I must put up my posters on in my mind’s eye. We exchange a few more lines, and I find that I don’t want to stop talking, but rather take up his offer for tea and enter into a long conversation that leads to new ideas and suggestions I had never fathomed.

One of the things mentioned by my friend is that the ancient hieroglyph for a city is what looks like a crude “x”, a mimicking of a crossroad occurrence. He then goes into discussing the different purposes of cities throughout time and is trying to understand a modern purpose for Philadelphia. He is much more into grand ideas than I am I think. He speaks of books about cultural waves and revolutions when,in my mind’s eye again, I am now imagining the afternoons I would sit in my grandmother’s yellow kitchen and just stare at the tree outside, how all I could do with an elderly person was to just be still. Not that my friend is not also an appreciator of small things, he even suggested that I should read Neruda’s Ode To Small Things, a favorite of his, which I may due now because of his mentioning it.

What I think this is, this being my piece for tonight, is a deliberate expression of gratitude to serendipity. I like real time. I like being brought into situations that I wasn’t planning on and having reaction met with mine and vise versa. My friend mentioned that he feels, although he does alot within the internet realm, it’s mostly him seeking out things he knows he wants to seek out, or a variation of those things. The room for a tangible 3D experience decreases drastically.

I love this chance experience. A GPS system to me feels more like a ball and chain and often on a tour I like to “spidey-sense”  my way to a place. I like the finger to the page of an atlas. Being able to locate myself on a map is more calming than seeing my circle move along a line that exists in a square screen until it tells me to turn.  I like ending up at circuses I hadn’t ever known that existed. I like stumbling into a café that turns out to have the worst breakfast ever. I like finding out by riding by on my bike that someone airbrushed the word forgive onto a chain-link fence and you can only see it from a certain distance at a certain angle.

I’d like to wish you many unplanned adventures that show you things you had never imagined or chose to seek out.  Goodnight, Birdie

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jubilee Juxtaposition: Going Subterranean with Mr. Huff

For those of you that know my music you know my song about the Huff Singers on the album “Penny Arcade”. Mr. Huff, the only living original member, and quite alive I must say, lives in North Philly, one of the most impoverished areas of our city, maybe any city, in the United States as far as crime and decay. But that’s doesn’t change the fact that many folks live there and have lived nowhere else. This is someone’s life and world just as any other.

I befriended Mr. Huff upon meeting him at the World Café in Philadelphia at their gospel brunch series and Mr. Huff, upon first meeting, held up a Polaroid camera and took a picture of me and then handed it back to me have a picture of myself. From there, we became life-long friends. He means what he says and does what he says he’s going to do. He thought that my first record shouldn’t be called the  “The Ways We Try” but rather “The Ways We Do” cause, as he put it, “Tryin’ never gets it, you’re doin’ Bird”.

The last visit I had to his house he was in the basement fixing a pipe in the bathroom down there so the guys could wash their hands during rehearsal and I walked in to find him on the ground, legs out from under the sink, like the Wicked Witch of the West. This basement is his sacred spot, and is, for all the decades and decades he’s spent singing gospel in churches, his church. I’ve never read The Subterraneans, so I don’t know what it’s about, but I think of him in this basement when I here that word and it connotes a much lighter thing than what it typically refers to. This is where he can be himself and be at peace with his wonder; he can reflect without judgment. Mr. Huff was a young man in his twenties in the 1940’s and has seen this country through decades and decades since, but in some ways he still behaves as a man who has been wounded, not physically but mentally, from the racial boundaries of being a black man in the United States. He has sung at executions of believed to be falsely accused from his neighborhood, been stuck on the side of the road in the middle of the night in the deep South, and been chased out of town in Florida for courting the white girls. The fact that he and I can have such a deep close friendship is something I, white and so much younger, might never be able to fully grasp the wildness of, but that Mr. Huff points out at every meeting.

Anyhow, Mr. Huff has prevailed, in all his joyous glory. He is here to be open to the world and he’ll let you know it at every turn, with modesty and child-like true-isms.  Over time he has compiled a treasure of visuals in this basement, putting up anything and everything that calls to him, as it comes, without discrimination or pattern or process. It is a juxtaposition jubilee that I feel was meant to see the light of day.

you can see all of the photos in the series at birdiebusch.com in the "view my pics" section! 

Some other interesting things about my time in North Philly:

*Sister Rosetta Tharpe, gospel and electric guitar legend, is buried there and until recently, didn’t have a gravestone. Through the efforts of The Huff Singers and many other gospel greats, they raised the money in a tribute concert for her.
* I attended Ira Tucker’s, lead singer of The Dixie Hummingbirds, funeral at The Met, which is a massive church on North Broad St., last year. Halfway through the 3-hour funeral Stevie Wonder got up from a pew to sing “I'll Fly Away” with Mr. Huff and others. It is one of the most moving moments of my musical life to see the two of them trading off verses together.

Monday, January 11, 2010


I’m reading a book right now called Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne of Talking Heads fame. I have always loved David Byrne. True Stories is one of my favorite movies, which was done by him. I highly suggest that and anything else he’s done be it books, records, or movies.

My life is jimmy-rigged for sure. You know, put the rug down to hide the gaping hole in the floor. Line the cookie sheet with foil instead of getting a new tray. The other night I was on the phone with my mother and I heard a loud banging in the background in which my dad was hitting his TV with a hammer to shake things up hopefully to fall back into the right spots. My mom says just get the new TV. He’s waiting for some turbo model that’s destined to come out always in the future from when you’re buying it. I am not a TV person. I am a movie person though so as long as I have a little something to watch it on that’s fine by me. So I watch my movies on a little Colby, the “Colby” written in Sony letters like when you get those markers in the dollar store that say Shoupie not Sharpie. Yes, I own a rainbow spectrum of Shoupies. I may have even signed my autograph on your CD with a Shoupie.

I recently acquired my very own first car a couple of weeks ago. The car is a twenty-year-old Buick estate wagon with about 200,000 miles on it passed on to me by my parents. They acquired a different car, slightly newer, from my slightly older 89 year- old pop-pop. The shifting of old cars like tectonic plates within the kindred circle- and no less dramatic. My dad was very in love with that wagon and gave it to me like someone was asking him to throw out his favorite pair of pants that were like no other pants. But he could at least watch it from a short distance and see it sometimes. Well, within the couple weeks, the fuel pump went on Christmas Eve, it didn’t pass inspection by a whopping amount of repairs needed, and now its back in their driveway and what seemed like my first foray into owning a car (the title is being mailed from the state capitol right now) has ended. Just for the sake of making the most of some money spent I kind of want to put the new license plate on my back.

Well, there was a short honeymoon that took place in the big boat. For a couple weeks I lined up some amps and guitars and upright basses with the utmost of ease, like a mouse lining up crumbs on an aircraft carrier. I placed my show clothes on little side hooks and cruised down Philly streets admiring the sites of bottle dust, factory chimney flames, and the lady who begs for change on the median by Grays Ferry with a cat on her shoulder constantly like a parrot. I will dedicate a whole entry in this blog to images seen out of the corner of my eye while riding through Philly. And, because of the fact that there’s no functioning stereo in this car, we started to read out loud this book by David Byrne as our means of entertainment on a few long rides. The book, which I mentioned the title in the first paragraph, is all about his experiences riding around all the cities he’s played in on a bicycle. I had heard awhile ago that he did this, that when he got into town for a show he got off the bus and started riding around, that it was his favorite way to see a place and sometimes when you’re a traveling musician, it can start to feel like all you do is drive in, play the show, and leave. It’s a great book, great to read and read aloud in a car, preferably from the passenger to the driver, which is an activity that was born of a long line of jimmy-riggedness operations. Here’s a toast to that, may my dad be banging his TV hammer to the tune of Burning Down the House.

And now, a favorite passage of mine so far from Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne, be sure to sit down and listen to some “real music” today. Love, Birdie Busch

**I hear the faint cacophony of many distant cell-phone rings on the train car-snippets of Mozart and hip-hop, old school ring tones, and pop-song fragments-all emanating out of miniscule phone speakers. All Tinkling away here and there. All incredibly poor reproductions of other music. These ring tones are “signs” for  “real” music. This is music not actually meant to be listened to as music, but to remind you of and refer to other, real, music. These are audio road signs that proclaim “I am a Mozart person” or, more often, “I can’t even be bothered to select a ring tone.” A modern symphony of music that is not music but asks that you remember music.**

Saturday, January 9, 2010

To Do Lists

I am a maker of “to do lists”. I make them on scraps of old show flyers and post-its, sometimes bigger sheets of more formal paper. I make them and I cross things off when I finish them. Sometimes I number each task. Other times just a hyphen. Sometimes I lump all the groceries under one task, as if all to be done in one place at one time. Other times each one is it’s own thing. Get toothpaste. Get dish soap. This makes the list longer. These tasks will share the page with other grander things like “try and get healthcare.” I put many things on the list thinking perhaps that because it’s on the list I can do it. I carry it around tucked into my journal or along with the paper bills in my wallet. I cherish the ability to cross things off like a nail-biter loves a good tear. Things are getting done that were there to do.


I realized in a quick thought a ways back that this was something I inherited from my father, much in the way I took on his olive skin or sometimes I’ll look down at the shape of my bare legs in the mirror and think, “I got my dad’s legs.” My dad always makes these lists. His usually are on pale yellow lined paper, sometimes done with thin red marker. He would leave them on the counter or on the desk in the kitchen when I was a kid. He includes things like “cut grass” or “clean out gutter” to things you’d not imagine as being on to do lists like “pick nose”. That’s a popular throw-in. Sometimes he’d write something like “hug Emily”. After awhile I realized he was writing these things to break up the heaviness of all the responsible tasks, perhaps leaving jokes and notes that he realized we would see, as we did, upon stumbling on his list.


I think I wanted to write about these lists because I have recently started to think about another thing, a list that exists less tangibly in my head but no less real just different. This list is less like a list and more like a circle, an invisible-ness of undendingness. like a railroad track that runs around the earth and joins up with itself in one streamlined infinite ride where I can never know where it started and ended, like a roll of scotch tape I pick away at furiously. I am trying to resolve these lists. I think that sometimes I mistake music or thinking about things that inspire songs like they are a grocery and then realize I can never be done this and it is a misfit of the highest order in the traditional to do list. How do I make peace with this thing that never allows itself to be made crossed-off? “PRACTICE” I’ll put right under “get toilet paper” and it seems absurd. It made me think of another thing to write on the list. Let’s say it’s number #27 on the list, a particularly overwhelming one.  Perhaps right after “send out heating bill.”


#27 Think about how some things can be put on a to do list and how there are other things that can’t and don’t mistake the two.


I don’t think I’ll ever tire of the satisfaction of the ol’ cross off but I want to find peace with the continuance. I want others to feel peace with finding the time and love to go towards their life’s loves and to not fear them because of the inability to make it a task. To each day be aware of the importance even if it can’t be controlled or totally understood or proven like laundry, liquid soap, and license renewal. My dad’s love has always been his time he gives to his family. Perhaps he was speaking in code with these quips, portals to help him and myself ponder our “other list”.