Into the limo and on the way to the big-time

Cover of the March 10 release, Pink Limousine

Cover of the March 10 release, Pink Limousine

You know how when you grow up in a relatively small town, you tend to see the same people (folks, if you please) throughout the course of your life and theirs? Say you reside in this somewhat fictional small town and you attend the local high school, where your chemistry teacher pairs you with a sweet geek. Not the kind of geek who spends his free time chomping the heads off chickens, but a lovably dorky kid who is dwarfed by the meatheads of your class, makes elaborate sculptures from rubber bands and paper clips in his idle time instead of texting and napping, and would rather force his copy of Doolittle on you instead of get you stoned and grope you behind the cafeteria. You love the dorky kid as a lab partner, consider him a good friend, might never look at the kid in a romantic light but enjoy his presence all the same.

Then you leave your semi-fictional small town for college and your first attempts at adulthood, as most sensible people do. But you come back for visits and meet up with your old friends at places you only dreamed about frequenting when you spent time together as young ‘uns. Maybe you drop by a local watering hole during your winter break, supposedly just to hang out but secretly to take a gander at all your former classmates who have also come home for their breaks. And you spot a familiar face – your chemistry partner. But he’s no longer a geek. He’s shaken off that high school BS, grown into his unconventional qualities, and greets you in a way that is charmingly self-effacing and equally aware of the impact that has on his audiences.

To break away from this imaginary winter break encounter, let me just say flat-0ut that this fictional lab partner is Pigeon John. Back in 2006, Pigeon John’s album, Pigeon John and the Summertime Pool Party, breathed a sense of humor into the independent hip hop scene. While underground hip hop artists tend to lack (or at least hide) the overblown egos of their more commercially successful peers, Pigeon John’s work showed a lack of unwarranted bravado without losing any of the enthusiasm for what he was doing. Plus, my favorite track from that album sampled from the excellent Pixies song, “Hey,” from none other than the outstanding Doolittle. In “Money Back Guarantee,” Pigeon John plays with the first line of the Pixies song but makes it less urgent and more friendly, which was totally befitting and cute from a talented but not-quite-huge rap artist.

These days, Pigeon John has teamed up with Flynn Adam of LA Symphony as an outfit called Rootbeer. The production value for their new EP, Pink Limousine, uses lots of slick touches such as the interjections of 70’s-style guitar picking in the title track. Pigeon John has definitely grown up since fictional small-town high school chemistry, found himself a crew of talented new friends, and exudes a confidence that is refreshing to hear. Unfortunately, it’s also kind of lost among all the flourishes. A funny line about Gary Busey comes across as a throw-away trinket among all the synthesized hoots and echoing vocals. The overall effect is certainly fun but not always charismatic the way that Pigeon John’s previous solo work has been. Plus, if you were like me, you sort of liked the geeky guy all along but were enough of a headcase yourself to not act on it at all when you were still living in the same town. The semi-fictional one.

Pigeon John and Rootbeer will be playing at the Someday Lounge on Saturday, March 28. The Buttermilk Baby Makers and Who Cares will also play.

  • Rootbeer ~ Pink Limousine ~ Cornerstone RAS

Pink Limousine

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