Blind Pilot

THE RISING TIDE: Back in 2008, Blind Pilot caught our ear by way of their warm folk pop and quirky touring methods. (The then-duo had famously traveled the West Coast by bike, setting up impromptu shows as they went.) Nowadays, Blind Pilot has blossomed from adventurous two-piece to full-fledged folk outfit, complete with six players, NPR-approved recordings, and a legitimate tour van.

Lucky for us, the shift to bigger sounds has made for a much better band. In place of the meandering acoustic takes from 2008’s 3 Rounds and a Sound, the band’s latest, We Are The Tide, is awash in intricate and driving percussion work. And with the added benefit of multiple guitar players and backing vocalists, the long-running Shins comparison has gone from slight to undeniable.

In turn, the band’s live show has evolved from a sit-down, legs-crossed indie affair to something worth standing and—dare I say it—dancing to. “I love the first record, but it was really exciting to work on arrangements with the whole band in mind,” explained founding member Ryan Dobrowski. “There are some songs on We Are The Tide that sound like an extension of 3 Rounds and a Sound, but a good number that are exploring new areas.”

Needless to say, it’s a sonic growth spurt I’ve been reveling in for weeks — and one I cannot wait to catch in action. Blind Pilot plays SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on Friday, September 30, at 8 p.m. with opener Dan Mangan. Visit for tickets.

CAST YOUR VOTE: For those of you following our annual Downtown Sound battle of the bands competition, listen up. Round one of the music melee ends tomorrow, Friday, September 30, at midnight over at The week-long online voting round will narrow our hefty list of Santa Barbara bands and artists down to just six acts. And those six (plus two extra special outfits of our choosing) will then move on to compete live onstage at SOhO and Velvet Jones for the title of best band in S.B.

Also up for grabs for the winner are the following: a gig as part of this year’s New Noise Santa Barbara music festival, a write-up in The Santa Barbara Independent’s annual Santa Barbara Band Guide, $5,000 worth of guitars from Ernie Ball, a prize pack of gear courtesy of Instrumental Music, a potential recording contract with S.B.’s LeRoi Records, a “Localize It” spotlight on 92.9 KJEE, and swag from Arbor Santa Barbara. To cast your vote for your favorite S.B. music makers, head online to ASAP. Remember: Every vote counts!

Speaking of band battles, this weekend also marks the beginning of the second annual Santa Barbara Youth Battle of the Bands, sponsored by the Santa Barbara Youth Music Academy. The 18-and-younger competition kicks off with open auditions this Saturday at Bishop Diego High School Theater. For those interested in checking out these kids live, the finals will be held on Friday, October 21, at 7 p.m. at the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.). Want to get involved? Visit

RETURN OF THE RENEGADES: Also this week, Portland bluegrass-loving group Renegade Stringband heads to SOhO alongside longtime Santa Barbara favorite Sarah Corum. Unlike most bands working in the genre, these five youngsters imbue their tunes with a delightfully modern twist—not surprising, considering their median age is less than 25. Employing everything from guitars and mandolins to stand-up bass, the quintet has carved out a niche somewhere between Nickel Creek and The Head and the Heart, aided in no small part by vocalist Jessica Jarris, who sounds a lot like a young Gillian Welch. Surely, this will be a mid-week stunner worth catching. Renegade Stringband plays SOhO (1221 State St.) on Wednesday, October 5, at 8 p.m. Call 962-7776 or visit for tickets.


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