1215 U Street NW
Washington, DC, 20009
Doors 6:30 PM
"The past isn't finished with us yet. Love can be like that, too. A couple of years ago I found love in different forms leaving my life at once. In a single month I lost my closest group of friends, my 13-year relationship ended, and my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I had just stopped touring to write the next Blind Pilot album, but instead I was watching each of my plans unthread as a new season pulled forward relentlessly.
"Avoiding suffering, is avoiding real happiness too. My reason to tell this story isn't because it broke me and pinned me breathless. There was suffering, but those two years, as I moved to my hometown to help my parents through my dad's sickness and eventually his death, also brought me true closeness, a deeper will to care and hope, and many moments of beauty I can barely describe.
"This album came from love for my family, my town, my friends, my community. We don't have to be so afraid of loss. We can speak and share its name, knowing we are together in it. If these songs are invitations to talk about loss and death, the invitation is to talk closely of the courage we find when we face loss honestly, cracked open and unsure of what we will become."
- Blind Pilot's Israel Nebeker
Blind Pilot's 'And Then Like Lions' on ATO Records is the third LP from the Portland, Oregon-based sextet consisting of frontman Israel Nebeker, fellow founding member Ryan Dobrowski, Luke Ydstie, Kati Claborn, Ian Krist and Dave Jorgensen. The album was produced by Israel Nebeker and Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, Neko Case, My Morning Jacket), and was written and composed by Nebeker. It comes five years after the band's well-received 'We Are the Tide' and three years after Nebeker thought he'd be starting the songs that would become the band's third album.
'And Then Like Lions' opens with "Umpqua Rushing," the first single from the album and the track that most directly deals with the end of his relationship. It's inspired by memories of visiting the Umpqua River with his then girlfriend. The song connects images of a forest fire to the destruction and new beginning found in love's wake.
"Umpqua Rushing" has a strong, mid-tempo flow built on major chords and rich instrumentation that matches the river the song's named for. Nebeker's voice soars on strings to an uplifting ending, and it's as vulnerable and open as he's ever been.
Packed Powder is an upbeat, solidly-driven song filled with elevated textures of guitar hooks and trumpets. It comes from an idea Nebeker had as a teenager, when he and his friends found they could repack fireworks to different outcomes: "We're all made of the same stuff, but who knows how we're packed and what we'll show as we burn across the black sky of our own time?" The song speaks lightheartedly of ironic outcomes when trying to better a life through different career paths, and then sings a chorus that surrenders and desires life to reveal what we are made of.
'And Then Like Lions' ends triumphantly on "Like Lions," a song inspired by various stories of courage Nebeker has whitenessed in his recent years, including watching his father fight for life and, before the end, find strength enough to give himself and be at peace with his own mortality.
Blind Pilot has performed on Ellen and The Late Show with David Letterman, at the Newport Folk Festival, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza. The group has shared stages with The Shins, Local Natives, Andrew Bird, and more. The project began in 2007 when Israel and co-founding member Ryan Dobrowski went on a West Coast tour via bicycle. Blind Pilot's six members recorded for this new album and will tour through 2016.
Growing up in a small town in the periphery of London, guitar and piano were a big part of Charlie's life.
"The whole ability to write songs is probably in a lot more people than they think. A lot of people can probably do it; it's just hard knowing how to start,' he admits. "I think what slowed me down was just over-thinking every possible thing. So now I know that if something feels right to just trust that."
After a few years gigging and finding his feet in Oxford he left for Seville and ended up staying for two years. It was here he explored the different attitudes towards the guitar, and developed a fresh technique that was a catalyst for his creativity. Taking the percussive qualities of flamenco, his playing became sharp enough to craft songs laden with delicate flourishes, intricate melodic turns, and moments of stark introspection. His work continues to be both expansive and intimate.
"I guess the reason that it took so long for me to put something out was that I couldn't play the way I wanted to play" he explains. "I knew how I wanted it to be, but I just couldn't do it. I gave myself quite a tough time"
But this perfectionist streak results in some truly wonderful moments of musicality. Charlie Cunningham's enormously suggestive songwriting is sonically beautiful while also packing an emotional punch. "I love all sorts of music, as long as there is an honesty to it" he says. "But it's hard, really, to let yourself be exposed like that."
Cunningham's artistic development, mapped by his three EPs Outside Things, Breather, and Heights, took another leap forward with his debut album, Lines. His deft touch and restraint has produced a work of compositions that sound fresh and yet eerily familiar. Although his celebrated flamenco nods and vocal hooks are present, his musicianship and songwriting ability now takes centre stage. Fan favourites (Lights Off, Breather, While You Are Young) are still present but revisited as new versions and fine tuned productions, nestled within a diverse set of new songs. The lyrically confident Minimum and the vocally rhythmic Answers compliment new avenues scoped by the record's production. His writing's honesty and humility is matched with a confidence in its accomplishment.
The popularity of Charlie's music is highlighted in over 4.7million Spotify plays across his three EPs and tens of thousands of views for his captivating online sessions reflect the enthusiasm for his live performances. This has been especially true on the continent, where he had played two sold out headline tours of Germany.
He has since returned to South London to promote this debut album and begin rehearsals for his biggest European tour to date, in Feb 2017.
Show starts at 8:00PM