See­ing their mu­si­cal path

Hav­ing grown out of jam ses­sions, Blind Crow aims to boost mu­si­cal pres­ence

Albany Times Union (Sunday) - - UNWIND - By Jim Sha­hen

Al­bany’s Blind Crow is a top-notch blue­grass and folk en­sem­ble. In the three years since form­ing and set­tling into its cur­rent lineup, the drum­mer­less quar­tet has kept busy, re­leas­ing the 12-track “Forgo the Bal­ance” and play­ing shows.

The band is look­ing to make this year its busiest yet.

“We are look­ing for­ward to a pro­duc­tive 2019,” the band col­lec­tively stated in an email com­piled by gui­tarist Jeff Was­bes. “We have a lot of irons in the fire. Look for new mu­sic videos and new orig­i­nal ma­te­rial that we hope to record at the end of the win­ter and spring. We hope to jump on board with the tra­di­tional/blue­grass fes­ti­val

cir­cuit per­haps this sum­mer and def­i­nitely next sum­mer.”

Blind Crow started as a weekly jam at a friend’s house. After some stylis­tic and per­son­nel tweaks and mod­i­fi­ca­tions, the guys de­cided to give it a go as a real band. The cur­rent ros­ter in­cludes Was­bes, vi­olin­ist Ryan De­lany, man­dolin player Tim Sweeney and Eric Mar­gan on bass.

The mem­bers of Blind Crow credit Sweeney for mov­ing them to­ward a blend of pro­gres­sive blue­grass and tra­di­tional roots mu­sic. But their style is also a nat­u­ral con­se­quence of the dif­fer­ent skills of each mem­ber.

“The band’s sound has de­vel­oped over time in­cor­po­rat­ing el­e­ments of clas­sic blue­grass (think Bill Mon­roe), pro­gres­sive new­grass (think Dave Gris­man or Chris Thile), and jazz,” the band ex­plained. “The sound we formed is unique to us and what we each bring to the ta­ble.

“Ryan comes from a clas­si­cal vi­olin back­ground, hold­ing two de­grees in mu­sic ed­u­ca­tion and one in vi­olin per­for­mance. He was in a Django Rein­hardt-style swing group back in col­lege and then over the last 4-5 years re­fined his play­ing in tra­di­tional and pro­gres­sive blue­grass,” their email con­tin­ued. “Tim played some clas­si­cal gui­tar in his early days and is a late man­dolin bloomer. Jeff came to acous­tic mu­sic about seven years ago after play­ing for many years as an elec­tric rock and funk player. Blue­grass was new for Eric but has re­ally adapted and pro­vides a great bass line, and har­mony vo­cals.”

The dif­fer­ent dy­nam­ics in­spire Blind Crow in terms of cre­ation. When it comes to writ­ing new tunes, “Ev­ery­one has cre­ative in­put on their own in­stru­ment or of­fers new ideas for ar­range­ments.”

That col­lab­o­ra­tive spirit car­ries over into the live show as well. On Satur­day, Blind Crow will be play­ing a set at Wolf Hol­low Brew­ing in Glenville. Mar­gan is out of the coun­try, so the rest of the band will be play­ing as a three-piece combo. De­spite his ab­sence, the band mem­bers are look­ing for­ward to cut­ting loose live. They see ev­ery show as a chance to fur­ther their co­he­sive­ness as a unit and to ex­pand their au­di­ence.

“We en­joy — love — play­ing shows. We find the more we are ac­tively play­ing shows the tighter we be­come as a group,” they penned. “The in­ten­sity of the show is high­est when the au­di­ence is re­ally dig­ging in, lis­ten­ing and giv­ing back. Then, we re­ally com­mu­ni­cate well on stage to­gether. Reach­ing an au­di­ence on an emo­tional level and giv­ing them the op­por­tu­nity to have a good con­nec­tion with what we are do­ing — that is the goal for the group. That’s a suc­cess­ful show.”

“Acous­tic string mu­sic is pure, it’s raw, and it’s down­right beau­ti­ful when done right. The com­bi­na­tion of a fid­dle, gui­tar, man­dolin, and bass pro­vides for end­less mu­si­cal pos­si­bil­i­ties,” Was­bes added. “I think one of our goals is to con­tinue the evo­lu­tion of acous­tic string mu­sic that is unique to us and to hope­fully reach other peo­ple in this area. We be­lieve our mu­sic is very ac­ces­si­ble and that string mu­sic in gen­eral can be ac­ces­si­ble to a much larger pop­u­la­tion of peo­ple.”

“We en­joy — love — play­ing shows. We find the more we are ac­tively play­ing shows the tighter we be­come as a group.” —Blind Crow

Photo by Buddy Beau­doin

Photo by Buddy Beau­doin

Blind Crow (From left) Jeff Was­bes, Tim Sweeney, Eric Mar­gin and Ryan De­lany.

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