Raise your glass! It’s Joe Bird Day
Bird died suddenly on April 1, 2009. Cathleen Rootsaert, his longtime partner in the comedy troupe Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie, says Joe “found humour and irony in everything. I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t find it funny that he died on April Fool’s Day.”
Bird was probably the most musical of the Edmonton comedy troupe that briefly hit the big-time when they scored a national television series in the early ‘90s (the Three Dead Trolls show was scuttled by CBC politics, which is another, much longer story). As the Trolls waned, Joe became a huge booster of the Edmonton music scene – one of the few guys who could keep one foot in the theatre world and still be a gigging musician. Often working under his alter-ego “Jose Oiseau,” he hosted numerous jams and open stages across town, helped countless young musicians get their feet wet. He could also be seen in several local theatre and comedy productions.
An award has been established in his honour. The Joe Bird Award – which comes with $2,000 cash from a trust fund – will be given to “a musician who not only is an excellent musician, but also does their best to be part of greater community of musicians, to mentor the younger musicians,” Rootsaert explains.
The ceremony and celebration will take place May 15 at the Empress. Where else? Owner Sue Kiernan says her Whytte Avenue pub wouldn’t even exist were it not for the colourful local actor-musician. “He supported us the whole way,” she says of her longtime friend.
Organizer Jason Kodie and his Acadian accordion stylings will likely be on stage, with other performers to be announced. Today is more like a wake. May 15th is the party. It’s Joe’s birthday. He would’ve been 44.
“Let’s celebrate him all the time,” Rootsaert says. “He’d love that. Joe loved his celebrations.”
(Rootsaert performs tonight in the SOLD OUT Hey Ladies! comedy revue at the Roxy Theatre.)