Telluride, Sheridan Opera House Gets Third Helping of Oregon’s Blind Pilot
As if personifying a pilgrimage into the religion of music, the subtle rolling snare drum and acoustic chords of the “Keep You Right” intro were aglide under the warm voice of Israel Nebeker. Before reaching the uplifting chorus, the two founding members were joined on the instrumental journey by a rush of full sounding banjo, stand up bass, vibraphone, and keyboard support. For Blind Pilot, the organic growth from a minimalist twosome to a resounding sextet of multi-instrumentalist has extended beyond the song, and represents their entire sonic meta-game. As the Oregonian outfit notched lo-fi indie ballad after ballad to start the show, studio tracks like “Oviedo” and “Just One” came to life as philosophical mantras that compelled the full room of listeners in the Sheridan Opera House to hang on every word.
The transparent worldly observations vocalized by Nebeker paint him as one of the more profound frontman to never use gimmicks. This is not said lightly, and beyond inviting the crowd to dance during the lively “I Know” and “Things I Cannot Recall,” all eyes and ears honed in on the acoustic guitarist as he intelligently serenaded. “Up and down, this is kind of like church,” drummer Ryan Dobrowski playfully remarked about the patrons returning to their seats. A member of the crowd enthusiastically retorted, “this is better than church!” before the band veered into the regenerative tale of life’s cycle on “White Apple.” The worthy hits like “Half Moon” kept the same introspective tone, while passionately tackling the familiarity of love lost and found with the profound reminder, “so hold high how faint your reasons, don’t forget you come from nothing.”
During “New York” a surprise harmonium was wheeled in front of Nebecker, and the hybrid accordion-piano tone was the sole foundation for a poem that subliminally depicted life’s trials as railroad ties capable of being broken. The lyrics “I got wise, and I got old, not once did I fall, so don’t you now” were repeated by the band as the instrumental died out and a silence fell upon the room. Being sure to keep emotions intact for what was surely a fragile audience, Nebecker called an audible on their encore. He playfully dedicated The Kinks’ “Strangers” to Telluride’s infamous Eric Kourf saying, “I don’t know him, but I sure have heard a lot about him.” Seemingly aware of the building pattern, the band then completed their three song encore, of their third appearance in Telluride, with a triumphant rendition of “3 Rounds And a Sound.”