Local Beat: Tough Old Bird

Local band Tough Old Bird, that started in Fillmore, New York, consists of brothers Nathan and Matthew Corrigan. Together, the two produce modern folk music that can evoke vivid images in the minds of listeners. Tough Old Bird will perform at the Geneseo Riviera Theater on April 14 at 7 p.m. (Mike Wall/Staff Photgrapher)

Most songs composed and recorded by the two-brother-band Tough Old Bird begin with rhythmic guitar strumming, sometimes accompanied by a drumbeat, Nathan Corrigan’s harmonica, Matthew Corrigan’s banjo or a soft tambourine.

The brothers classify their original songs as “modern folk music.” Although neither musician has a set method for song writing, they find themselves coming up with similar themes in their work. Both brothers find inspiration in the land and in various folk musicians. 

“I think we both write a lot of imagery-based songs that can be vivid in people’s heads and remind them of Western New York,” Matthew Corrigan said. “We really like the Felice Brothers, the Avett Brothers, Bob Dylan—old folk music, stuff like that.”

Since the band started in Fillmore, New York, it’s no wonder that Tough Old Bird’s music carries familiar images for local community members. 

“We both usually tend to sing the songs that we write,” Matthew Corrigan said. “I think we draw a lot from our own lives—that’s not saying that they’re biographical though.”

Nathan Corrigan noted that variation occurs in the process of songwriting for the two band members. 

“Every song is different,” he said. “Matt’s songs, I think, are a little more intricate guitar-wise. He takes a long time to write a few, really epic songs.” 

As the main guitarist for the band, Matthew Corrigan agreed that he focuses less on lyrics. 

“I tend to veer more toward arranging parts, and Nate is more lyrical-based,” he said. “Nate finishes a lot more songs than I do.”

The brothers just returned from a five-day tour during which they played venues in Rochester, New York City, Philadelphia and Boston. Matthew Corrigan said that both he and Nathan Corrigan enjoyed the tour. 

“We were playing new places in all of those cities,” he said. “We met a lot of great people and played with a lot of really great musicians. We really like touring, we do it as much as we can.” 

The pair will be hitting the road for an additional tour in April.

As far as new music goes, Tough Old Bird has some songs in the works. They released an EP in May 2017 called Where the Great Beasts are Buried, which is available on Spotify, iTunes and in CD-form and is sold by the brothers. All the songs are home-recorded and produced by the two members of the band.

“We’ve written a lot of songs that are going to be in another album at some point,” Nathan Corrigan said. “It’s kind of hard to say when that’s going to be.” 

Matthew Corrigan suggested that the pair might preview some of their new songs at the Riviera Theater during their upcoming concert, even if they are too fresh for official release.

Tough Old Bird is set to play at the Geneseo Riviera Theater with the Geneseo band Straw Hat on April 14 at 7 p.m. The band’s folksy, poetic lyrics and skilled musicianship will blow audiences away and this exceptionally talented local duo is certainly one worthy of support.