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Blind Pilot remains unafraid

The Sinclair, Cambridge, Mass., October 16, 2017

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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Blind Pilot could not be accused of being prodigious. Not when you have released but three albums and one EP in in years and the last released more than a year ago.

One suspects that the Oregon-based Americana sextet is hitting the stages these days because they enjoy the live setting. At least that was apparent on this night.

Israel Nebeker is a commanding lead singer vocally, singing well and in full voice. He also came off like a true intellectual, talking of spending time while in college in Spain and more importantly explaining what was behind the song "Joik #3." According to Nebeker, it was a traditional style of song from the Sami people of the Nordic countries and a very direct way of expressing one's true feelings. That may have been the case, but you pretty much had to take the erudite lead singer at his word.

While Nebeker took the lion's share of attention, Blind Pilot was a most diverse group musically. That included Kati Claborn on a variety of instruments including banjo perhaps most prominently, ukulele and lap steel with Luke Ydstie on upright bass and Dobro. The two even switched sides and instrumentation on occasion. And then for something completely different, how about Dave Jorgensen on trumpet and keyboards and Ian Krist on vibraphone? Utilizing trumpet and vibes throughout (and together on "The Story I Heard") most definitely resulted in the songs occupying a varied sonic space. Blind Pilot didn't stop there with altering sounds. "The Colored Night" occupied much more of a country sound thanks to the guitar and vocals.

Nebeker came out solo acoustic for the first of three encore songs (perhaps named "When the Train Comes Shining Through,") a fairly fast new song.

Apparently, Blind Pilot is most comfortably going outside the expected. Maybe there's something to not putting out an overabundance of music, although when you have something of musical quality and song craft, it seems downright unfair. Oh well. Blind Pilot will do as it does releasing new material, but at least they remain unafraid to hit the old dusty touring trail.

Virtual unknown British singer Charlie Cunningham opened with a good solo acoustic set, although the songs proved a tad too similar. That may not have been the best setting to experience Cunningham because when he employed a few members of Blind Pilot to help out, the fleshed-out sound served him particularly well.