Rattle Your Brain:
The Heritage, Pigeons, and Big Something at the Blind Tiger
By: Becca ‘Boo’ Cranwell
The Blind Tiger in Greensboro, NC is a musical oasis for music-lovers, jam-family, and interested passers-by alike. A straight, two-hour shot from Roanoke, VA—the sunny autumn drive through North Carolina is almost meditative. The college-side of Greensboro is bustling with students preparing for the weekend: kegs are being wheeled into side entrances, frat sheets are being hung over porches, and young men are hollering at strangers from car windows. Ah, college towns.
The Heritage, from Winston-Salem wastes no time and immediately rips into southern rock ‘n roll accented with soulful saxophone and funky trumpet. If I weren’t so sure I was in North Carolina, I might mistake myself for being in a smoky blues bar down in Louisiana. It’s easy to move to this music. Highly energetic but also with a touch of blues, The Heritage quickly sets the tone for the evening: bodies will be in motion tonight—that is for sure. I try to maintain composure clinging to the table, but can’t hold still for very long. The brassy bounce of the trumpet taps me on the shoulder and urges me to let go; it’s not too difficult. Come celebrate the Heritage’s newest album release at Ziggy’s in Greensboro. Their album titled “Systematically,” will be available November 1st, and you can also find them on Reverbnation (make sure to listen to “Get Down,” you won’t regret it).
The dance party never ceases as the boys from Pigeons Playing Ping Pong pick up the funk without dropping a beat. Fluctuating between fluid guitar jams and energetic dance grooves—the Baltimore group delivers what I call the pigeon-funk-jam-sandwich. Whether it’s the peacefully flowing river that spills out of Jeremy Schon’s guitar, the groove of Greg’s pedaling paired with playful lyrics, Ben’s commanding bass lines, or Dan’s popping drums, one thing is for sure: the Pigeons carry us to that heady internal oasis that every music lover searches for; this revelation is evidenced by the man excitedly bouncing towards me exclaiming: “I get it now. I get Pigeons. It took me three shows, but this time I got it. That song [Offshoot] totally rattled my brain!”
Looking out on the crowd, eyes are closed and heads are swaying—at least until the beat breaks into F.U. which incites vigorous stomping and arm flapping of all varieties. Yes, the Pigeon-funk-jam-sandwich is in full effect tonight. Casey Cranford hops on stage with his saxophone and breathes a seductive sigh into a cover of Stevie Wonders’ “Superstition.” Just as their set seems to be winding down, Pigeons treat the bodies bumping in the Blind Tiger to a new song, “Live it Up,” which has the distinct feel of—dare I say ‘disco?’—I don’t know, but it definitely put me in the mood to ‘dance to the moon and live it up.”
Next, Big Something takes the stage—and it appears each member is wearing a t-shirt with a little boy’s face printed on the front. Apparently, North Carolina jam-fam prankster, Megan Moulton, contacted Greg Ormont’s mother and had a handful of his baby pictures sent down to be printed on t-shirts. Wide-eyed, confused, but mostly surprised—Greg shakes his head in bewildered embarrassment as Big Something sports his baby face on their shirts while shuttling us even farther into dance land.
An ideal set for Friday night in a college town, Big Something gives UNC Greensboro students music to help shake off those back-to-school blues. No one can possibly be stressed about homework when you’re boogying you butt off to “Love Generator” by Big Something. I know the buzz word “disco” has come up a lot lately, but I can’t think of another way to describe the booty bouncin’, fist pumpin’, head flingin’ nature of these songs. And just for good, goofy measure the boys of Big Something ripped into Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise,” which abruptly morphed into “Amish Paradise” by Weird Al.
The party can be heard bumping and heaving inside the Blind Tiger from the top of the parking lot. Lights flash through the windows and sweaty bodies fall out of the glass doors panting for cool air, then return inside just as fast as they left as “The Curse of Julia Brown” pumps through the enormous speakers flanking the stage. Rounding up the night with “Burning down the house” by the Talking Heads and their own “My Volcano,” it takes at least 45 minutes to get everyone out of the venue, as no one wants to leave the incredible energy high we just received from Pigeons and Big Something.
While music was the main reason for making the 2 hour trip to Greensboro, I was also excited to get to spend time with the North Carolina jam-family. Those of us who made the trip down were shown indescribable hospitality and kindness from our hosts and NC fans alike. Smiling faces flashed from all corners of the Blind Tiger, Friday night; hugs, handshakes and high-fives were exchanged in good company, and the night ended in the best possible way I could image: with a big plate of Megan’s delicious spicy macaroni and cheese. Thank you to The Heritage, Pigeons, and Big Something for rattling our brains and to Andy Cox and Megan Moulton for offering their home to weary travelers.