Big Something's big year continues as this week's Riverfront Nights headliner - Aug 30

Big Something's big year continues as this week's Riverfront Nights headliner - Aug 30

August 28th, 2014 by Casey Phillips in Chattnow Music

Big Something is, from left, Jesse Hensley (lead guitar), Josh Kagel (keys, trumpet), Nick MacDaniels (lead vocals, guitar), Ben Vinograd (drums), Doug Marshall (bass) and Casey Cranford (sax, electronic wind instrument).

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.


• What: Riverfront Nights concert series featuring Big Something.

• When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30; Travis Bowlin opens at 7 p.m.

• Where: Ross's Landing, 200 Riverfront Parkway.

• Admission: Free.

• Phone: 423-756-2211.

• Website: riverfront

• Artist website:


Travis Bowlin is a 15-year-veteran singer/songwriter with roots in Cincinnati. His soulful blues vocals are laid atop a musical mix that incorporates elements of styles ranging from rock'n'roll to Southern gospel. For more information, visit


Wild Trails, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting local trails, is hosting a running and paddling fitness challenge. Participants will paddle the seven miles between Ross's Landing and Chickamauga Dam or the two-mile route around Maclellan Island. An 8-mile, half-road/half-trail run on Stringer's Ridge begins at 5 p.m., and a 5K road run will start at 5:30 p.m. L2 Boards will offer reduced-rate rentals on standup paddle boards and kayaks on-site.


2010: "Stories From the Middle of Nowhere"

2013: "Big Something"

2014: "Truth Serum"

It must feel pretty good to be the members of North Carolina-based electronic funk-rock-jam outfit Big Something right now.

On top of covering more territory and playing more shows this year than ever before, the musicians hosted the inaugural instance of their own music festival, the Big What, earlier this summer.

And after months of delay caused by their producer's near-fatal car wreck, their second, self-titled album was released at the end of 2013, earning a trio of Album of the Year awards from Angelica Music, Endless Boundaries Radio and the Home Grown Music Network.

A third album, "Truth Serum," is in the works. The band will celebrate the occasion with a Halloween CD release show at lead singer Nick MacDaniel's favorite venue, The Lincoln Theater, in their home town of Raleigh, N.C.

"I'm so excited about it," MacDaniel says. "It's probably our best recording so far ...the best snapshot of the band to date. We're very pumped about it."

So, yeah, they're on top of the world right now.

"Oh man, it's been incredible," MacDaniel adds, laughing. "It's just been time and effort. We're giving it all we've got."

On Saturday, Aug. 30, the band will take a moment to step off cloud nine to grace the stage at Ross's Landing as this week's Riverfront Night's headliners.

MacDaniel founded Big Something while a student at Elon University. The band first formed around MacDaniel, bassist Doug Marshall and fellow Elon classmate Josh Kagel (keys/trumpet). By 2010, the lineup solidified with the addition of Casey Cranford (saxophone), Jesse Hensley (guitar) and Ben Vinograd (drums).

The group's membership all come from a variety of backgrounds and exhibit varied musical tastes, all of which are reflected in Big Something's eclectic sound that echoes Allman Brothers Southern rock strut, Pink Floyd psychedelia, Neville Brothers-style dirty funk, Grateful Dead improvisation and a healthy dose of electronic flourishes.

Saturday's show will mark the band's first appearance in Chattanooga, although the band previously has played Volunteer State dates in Knoxville and Bristol. MacDaniel says the set list will draw from a back catalog of four dozen original songs, in addition to eclectic covers of artists such as Prince, Rage Against the Machine and Stevie Wonder, among others.

Although the band strives for perfection in all aspects of its music, MacDaniel says Big Something's live performances are his bread and butter. Playing live, he says, offers the band members a welcome opportunity to stretch out a bit during what he calls "open space" in the songs.

"I like to think of each song like a car that we can take out to drive," he says. "We'll just let it open up, and everyone holds back and lets it simmer for a little bit. Then, we see where it takes us."

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfree or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @Phillips CTFP.