The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 18, 2014

This music is for the birds

By Jeffrey Allen Federowicz
For The Daily Item

— WILLIAMSPORT -- Some birds tweet, others chirp and a few birds from Arkansas can belt out a soulful song reminiscent of a cool Frank Zappa tune.

You need to do some bird watching and a lot of listening to discover the music of these birds — the Birds Over Arkansas — this Saturday when this trio lands at Alabaster Coffee Roasting & Tea Co. in Williamsport.

“In the writing process, we started realizing we had these really fun initial ideas, often kind of quirky and unorthodox and then we would just edit and massage them down until they sounded like everything else,” said Scott Haskitt, a musician who wears many hats for the band including guitarist, percussionist and vocals. “It was really frustrating, sort of killing our own ideas joined musical forces. So we started doing the opposite; shining a light on the quirky bits from sessions and junking the normal sounding stuff. Eventually, those left turns started to make sense in their own way.”

The band was hatched in 2011 when Scott and fellow friends Laura Hartshorn on keyboards, ukulele and soulful vocals plus John Mondick on guitar, mandolin and vocals, joined forces.

According to Haskitt, music has always helped the trio stay sane. Drawing from influences such as Peter Gabriel, Yes, Ryan Adams, Pink Floyd and bands they heard on the radio but never caught their name, the band whipped everything together then added a grand dose of originality to create tunes that sound like a lot of fun.

Scott, a Philly resident, said their sound has a lot of harmonies and some progressive rhythmic tendencies that fits venues both large and small, wild and tame.

Each gig incorporates a selection of sounds and songs selected specifically for that venue with both selected cover songs and original material.

“We once played a wedding and an hour before we started, we found out the couple broke up,” Haskitt said. “The wedding reception was still a go and the couple stayed, mingled and danced at the party as friends. That was weird.”

Their gig this Saturday will include all members of the band. “This is the first time the full three-piece has ever played in Williamsport. As a two-piece, we have played several times and have always said we’d bring the full outfit to the Bullfrog or Alabaster. This weekend we are doing both,” Haskitt said. “We are from both Connecticut and Pennsylvania so we are not able to rehearse as much as we’d like, so shows with the three of us are often full of surprises.”