Birds and Arrows, but no cello (tonight at Casbah)

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Back to basics
  • Photo by Bill Hudson for Birds and Arrows
  • Back to basics

Birds and Arrows’ recent guest spot on WUNC-FM’s “The State of Things” found husband-and-wife Pete and Andrea Connolly joined on banjo by Kyra Moore—but notably without longtime cellist Josh Starmer, who recently departed the band after four years.

Starmer joined Birds and Arrows in 2009 and recorded 2011’s We’re Gonna Run and 2013’s Coyotes with them. Earlier this month, the band sent a letter to its email list in which Starmer explained his decision to devote more time to his research work at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“While I’m extremely lucky to have played with Pete and Andrea, music is only one part of me,” Starmer wrote. “The other part of me can’t sleep at night because of science. It probably sounds insane, but I love that half just as much as the music half. I get excited both by new songs and by new statistical methodologies. And as much as I would love to keep playing in Birds and Arrows, I knew from the start that there would be a time where I could no longer balance these two sides of me.”

Starmer hasn’t cut ties completely. “We’ve already agreed that I’ll be helping out with special shows,” he added.

Although the Connollys are now back to their duo core, they’re seeking out other collaborative possibilities. “We are really looking forward to having different musicians sit in with us throughout the summer,” Andrea notes.

The first such instance is Thursday, May 23, at Casbah in Durham, where they’ll be joined not only by Moore on banjo and fiddle, but also Jon Shain on bass and Nathan Golub on pedal steel. Adron opens the 9 p.m. show; admission is $5-7.

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