In December, my coworker on NPR’s music team told me to listen to the new band Blind Pilot. Knowing that I have the same music taste (from listening to the songs he picks for Song of the Day), I listened to the album. And I liked it. But I didn’t think much more about it.
Fast forward to last weekend — I went to Texas for a wedding on a ranch. It also happened to coincide with the SXSW music festival in Austin. And, Bob Boilen picked Blind Pilot to be one of the bands to watch among the thousands there. So I brought the album for the drive from Austin to Comfort, Texas. It was one of the only albums we had in the car, and we listened to it over and over again as we drove on the open highway.
Then, yesterday, my coworker told me last minute about a performance chat at Studio 4A. Ari Shapiro was interviewing Blind Pilot for Morning Edition. And I stood in the control room with literally a handful of people and listened to the independent band from Portland, Ore., tell their story about how did first tour from Vancouver to San Francisco on bicycles (if that’s not cool, I don’t know what is). They were down to earth. They told jokes and laughed. And they played their acoustic tunes, and I was so moved, I nearly forgot about my 1:30 meeting.
Last night, I rallied a few friends to see them play at a small venue in Virginia called Iota. It was $12. I rarely have the energy to cross the border into Virginia, much less when it’s raining. But we got there at 9 p.m. just before it sold out. And they were incredible. And afterward, the band stood near the bar chatting with my NPR coworkers — accessible and open. The lead singer Israel Nebeker was obviously shy, but smiley and grateful we were impressed by them. I came home and fell asleep to their melodic voices. And today, as it drizzles outside, I can’t stop listening to the album, especially the song “3 Rounds and a Sound.”
My love for this album has been a slow progression. It wasn’t overnight. I needed exposure to it. And as I listen to it, I discover the layers to the harmony. The depth of the instruments. The complexity of the lyrics. The beauty of their voices. I can’t wait till they play in D.C. again.