with Cedric Noel and Pen Palindrome

Songbyrd Presents
Downstairs, All Ages




Songbyrd Presents

Friday March 13, 2020


Ella O’Connor Williams, also known as Squirrel Flower, was born on August 11th 1996, the hottest day of the year, still inside of a translucent caul sac membrane, surrounded by amniotic fluid. Born with a membrane between her and the rest of the world, yet still very much connected to and dependent on a larger life force. It’s this origin story that inspired the name of Squirrel Flower’s new album I Was Born Swimming.

Williams comes from a deep-rooted musical family tree. Her grandparents were classical musicians who lived in the Gate Hill Co-op, an artistic cooperative from upstate New York that grew out of Black Mountain College. Ella’s father, Jesse Williams, spent most of his life as a touring jazz and blues performer and educator, and lends his bass playing to the album (listen for his smooth solo on “Headlights”). Growing up in a family of hard working musicians fostered a love of music and started Williams down her own musical path. As a child, Williams adopted the alter ego of Squirrel Flower. A couple years later, she began singing with the Boston Children’s Chorus while studying music theory and teaching herself to play the guitar. As a teen, she discovered the Boston DIY and folk music scenes and began writing, recording, and performing her own songs, now returning to the name Squirrel Flower as her chosen moniker. By the time Williams had begun performing live, recording and touring she was already well on her way to the signature artful songcraft heard on the album.


Cedric Noel is a songwriter, bassist, collaborator and producer currently based in Montréal, Québec, Canada. Since 2010, Noel has released a number of full-length albums, EPs and collaborative works which have ranged from melodic pop to ambient to improvisational soundscapes. His most recent releases include 2018's minimalist albumFor Empty Pairs and a duo of well-received singles from his r&b/pop project Special Solace. He’s spent most of the past year back in the studio working on his next project.
"Cedric Noel already had the crowded space hanging on his effortless tenor and a gently strummed electric guitar. I was sucked in as well, won over in seconds." - Brooklyn Vegan


Pen Palindrome began as the solo project of Iranian-American songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Ava Mirzadegan, currently based in DC. The band has now grown to include guitarist, Andrew Riblet, and drummer, Joey Bentley. Her songs function as a sort of roadmap for finding joy while experiencing grief and anxiety. She creates contemplative indie rock that is earnest and a little melancholic. But if you asked her, she’d call it “ambient rock that you can take home to meet your family.”

After years of working behind the scenes as an intern, blogger, radio host, and publicist, Pen Palindrome is Ava’s first step onto the other side of the mirror as a performer. Having spent years devoting herself, professionally and otherwise, to the careers of other musicians, Pen Palindrome also allows Ava to interact with music in a way that is closer to how she views it - as part of a community that values art over competition.

In March, she released a collection of demos entitled Dilettante Ball. The songs were recorded in various rooms of her home onto a zoom recorder, and dubbed onto handmade cassette tapes.

This June, she re-released the collection through Wisconsin-based tape label, Painted Blonde.

The special edition tape will comes with a few re-recorded tracks on a purple cassette with a redesigned album cover, by Jason Lambeth.

The songs onDilettante Ballacted as exercises in battling writer’s block. Each of the songs were written in a single sitting over the course of the winter months. With lyrics that were mostly ad-libbed, the collection attempts to verbalize the unadulterated subconscious emotions of love, distance, and longing.

One of the bonus tracks, “Pavement,” was included on Boy Tears - a compilation album made by Adult Mom, which highlighted non-cis male musicians. The proceeds from the bandcamp album go toTrans Lifeline. Another track, “Ohio,”was included in the Spring 2019 Compilation by Z Tapes. Pen Palindrome was featured on a collaboration with friend/UK-based musician Omes, “Stain” on the Summer 2019 Compilation. Her cover of “We Are Real” was included on a David Berman tribute compilation put together by Dear LIfe Records and Z Tapes, and she will also be releasing a cover of (Sandy) Alex G’s “Station” on a Z Tapes Compilation tape out in Fall 2019.