“My Path Was Just Sort of Chosen for Me”–A Chat with Brian Westfall of Rare Birds Musical Oddities

Today I’m delighted to be in conversation with Brian Westfall. Brian is the proprietor of the shop Rare Birds Musical Oddities.

(You can stream our chat via the embed here, on Anchor, or pretty much anywhere else you source your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, and Google Podcasts.)

Rare Birds is a shop dedicated to those elusive, beautiful, and lovingly weird pieces that will bring character and vibe to your recording dates, home studio, and performances.

Vintage guitars, basses, and synths; cowbells once owned by real cows; Casio keyboards once owned by real 1980s kids; maracas brought back from a great aunt’s college trip to Mexico; drum machines that used to sit on grandma’s organ; toy pianos from Christmas 1958; wheezing chord organs; middle school band orchestra glockenspiels, and much more await you when you visit Rare Birds Musical Oddities.

As Brian and I nerd out about all things gear related, we also discuss why this is a great time to be a musician streaming performances online, how nostalgia plays a part in the Rare Birds shopping experience, the frustration of how elusive the really cool stuff can be, why he actually encourages his customers to resell the gear they’ve bought from him, and why he’s more interested in what you’re doing with your gear rather than what gear you have.


Rare Birds Musical Oddities / Rare Birds Music on Reverb / Rare Birds Music on Instagram

Joe Wortell and the Natural Law on Spotify / on Instagram / on Bandcamp

The Felus Cremins Band performing “Pink Moon” for the full moon on April 7, 2020:

When the COVID-related shutdowns began, Bandcamp started periodically scheduling days when they promise to take no additional service charges or other cuts of an artist’s earnings on that particular day’s sales. More about the what, why, and how of that on Bandcamp’s blog over here.

The spliced-in audio clip demonstrating the sound of the Omnichord is my band, the Felus Cremins Band, performing our version of “Where the Streets Have No Name” live in Los Angeles on January 4, 2019.

Read more about the history of the Omnichord here. Be sure to also check out this footage of David Bowie performing the Simon and Garfunkel song “America” on an Omnichord for the post-9/11 “Concert for New York City.” (I personally consider it the definitive version of that song.)

Michelle Billingsley

David Quinn

Wild Earp and the Free for Alls

Joel Paterson

Dave Miller


Twin Peaks

Jungle Green

Lance Skiiiwalker


The Felus Cremins Band live in Northwest Indiana (May 2019)

Midwest Buy & Sell

The Parlor at the Colvin House

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1929.

About the Acapella app.

I wrote a little bit about seeing Zola Jesus perform at the International Museum of Surgical Science here.