Written by Daniel Barker
Oct 27, 2009 at 07:00 PM
ImageI was geared up for this show for a couple of reasons – #1. I wanted to check out HOB’s Bronze Peacock Room that I had been hearing so much about from Senior Editor, Edge Ferranti. #2. I had to know if Blind Pilot could pull it off live.

I heard Blind Pilot’s music and story one afternoon on NPR and it just resonated with this beach boy with a soft spot for singer-songwriters…These guys are just a breath of fresh air in a way that is ultramodern and beatnik at the same time. A band that sold 2 million downloads of “Go On, Say It” on ITunes and chose to travel down the west coast on bicycles to play for anybody who was willing to listen to them. A bright eyed, clean cut pair that self produced their album which incorporates instruments like harmoniums, dulcimers, and vibraphones that was written in total isolation at an old cannery over the Columbia River – an album that reached #13 on the Billboard Digital Album Chart. Israel Nebeker and Ryan Dobrowski have hi tech minds and a low tech sound.

The Portland, Oregon based Blind Pilot is the aforementioned duo of Israel Nebeker-lead vocals, guitar and Ryan Dobrowski-percussion, vocals; but have assembled a touring band that consist of Kati Claborn-banjo, dulcimer, vocals; Luke Ydstie-upright bass; Dave Jorgenson-trumpet, harmonium; Ian Kiri-vibraphone(xylophone). The group is touring behind the July 15th, 2008 release of 3 Rounds and A Sound on Expunged Records. Houston is the bands 8th stop and first Texas date on a coast to coast US tour.

It was a cool, crisp Texas night and the door was open to the Peacock room letting in the cool breeze.  The room is set for an intimate standing room only affair that complimented this band very well. Squeezing onto the small stage the six artists said hello and kicked it off. The sound was good and the room held it well. It was a nice crowd but not overwhelming. The setting was a photographer’s nightmare with SRO on a low stage and a mammoth spotlight stuck on Israel leaving the band in a shadow. The crowd proved to be members of the diehard fan base that is driving the popularity of this group. Sing-a-longs while couples kissed and held hands were in order as the blabbing was nearly non-existent at times.

My reasons for anticipating this gig were realized as this talented group nailed every song in a room made for this music. Israel Nebeker’s voice is a gift and left no one disappointed. The band could play multitudes of instruments and create wonderful harmonies leaving the range of possible sounds infinite. This was a good time.

This was the first time many of these musicians had ever played in Texas. They commented about being disappointed that there were no cowboy hats in the audience but it is hard to imagine them here on this night at all. Maybe they will get luckier when they head to Austin and then Dallas. The Houston crowd shook off the stereotype and I hope the word gets around…I would love to see more groups from this genre make it down like Fleet Foxes, Great Lake Swimmers, etc…

The set list this night was:

1. The Story I Heard
2. Two Towns From Me
3. Oviedo
4. Poor Boy
5. Go On, Say It
6. White Apple (Unrecorded Song)
7. I Buried A Bone
8. Things I Cannot Recall
9. Paint or Pollen
10. Look at Miss Ohio (Gillian Welch Cover)
11. 3 Rounds and A Sound
12. The Bitter End
13. One Red Thread

I really enjoyed this show. It would be hard not to walk away without a smile on your face. Actually seeing these guys play this music has given the CD much more power. I will be watching these guys. I wish them all the best. Until next time, I will see you out supporting live music.