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Birdy Num Num brings love to Ash Street

Birdy Num Num
the Kirby Grips
the Jolenes
Bubble Boy
Tippy Canoe
Friday 10 p.m.
Ash St. Saloon
214 S.W. Ash St.

Gregarious T. Kline is a man of considerable enthusiasm. Even talking to him by phone on a Tuesday afternoon it is easy to get the feeling he cannot contain himself. I couldn’t help but imagine he was jumping up and down in his kitchen as he relayed the history of Birdy Num Num, the band he fronts along with Justin Thorpe on guitar, Jimi Biron on bass and drummer Troi Eggleston. Friday may be still six days before Valentine’s Day, but Birdy Num Num wants to get the party started and bring people together. That’s just the kind of band they are.

For those that don’t know Greg Kline, aka DJ Gregarious, let it be known that in addition to his already mentioned enthusiasm he also carries with him an encyclopedic knowledge of music and dirigible-sized love of entertainment. Birdy Num Num played its first show Dec. 23, 2000 and Greg rattles the date off the top of his head. And when he gushes, “It was amazing,” he’s not talking about his band, he’s talking about headliners Big Star. He can also tell you most of the set the seminal power-pop band played as well as exactly what his band played. Some people are just fanatical. And with Birdy Num Num he has found the right group of musicians to walk with him.

It would be difficult to find a more talented band in Portland, and more importantly, Birdy Num Num understands all that doesn’t mean a thing without great songwriting. The band can play with such a deft touch, but it is a touch with an edge and an understanding that dynamic shifts and soloing don’t matter unless the songs are great. And they are great. Within them it’s easy to hear the influences – the aforementioned Big Star, Bowie, T. Rex and the Kinks to more contemporary melody-driven rockers like the Go and the Makers.

Without being derivative, they play a set that will make the mods shake and the rockers roll and they know how to give it up live. Greg has never been afraid to don a costume and skate the very fine line between clever and stupid. Thorpe plays lead guitar with bite and texture that genuinely serves the songs and the rhythm section is one of the best in town. And they can all sing.

But these touches are marks that anyone familiar with this group has just begun to take for granted. For the last few years Gregarious, in addition to his normal DJ’ing nights, has been organizing rock star tribute nights around town. Beginning at the Bar of the Gods tribute to David Bowie through the Stones tribute at the 1201, the Iggy Pop tribute at the Fez and such left field salutes as “1982” and Dead Rock Stars, Gregarious has given any band with the chutzpah a chance to take the stage and salute the music they love. Anyone who has ever attended one will assuredly have hazy memories of Gregarious and various Birdy Num Nummers and other local musicians closing the evening. On Feb. 17 Gregarious will pay tribute to fallen Beatle George Harrison at The Blackbird on Northeast Sandy. Already excitement and rumors of special guests are circulating.

But what about Friday? Expect fun. Birdy Num Num rarely misses a trick. With local lovelies the Jolenes opening with their brand of rock moves and pop hooks, San Francisco’s the Kirby Grips, and the boys of BNN headlining it will be an extravaganza. And for those of us without Valentine’s sweeties it’s a chance to do some last minute shopping. I think they planned it that way.