Band of the Week: Big Ship

Meet the Band: Dreadlock Dave McDougald (bass), Michael Rotman (guitar, vocals)

A Musical Blind Date: Local reggae singer Carlos Jones set up McDougald and Rotman about eight years ago on what Rotman says was a "blind date." They clicked and have been playing together as Big Ship for the past five or six years. "We're rounded out by different players, depending on who's available," says Rotman when asked about the band's line-up. "We played as a trio with Carlos Jones for awhile. I have young children and children's music was either unintelligible or inappropriate. We wanted to make music that the whole family can get down to. We wanted to have an environment where the whole family can get together."

Multi-Tasking: The guys essentially played all the instruments on their self-titled debut, which they released last year. "I think there are two guitar tracks that are played by another guitar player," says Rotman, adding that singer-songwriter Tommy Wiggins plays a bit of squeezebox and some Hammond organ. Because the album had a soft release, it didn't get much attention from the local press. "We never did an official CD release party," he says. "We're on Pandora, iTunes and Amazon now, but it was a soft release when we did it. There are copies all over the place. Inevitably, a family gets their hands on it and six more sales come out of that immediately. We're trying to build the band slowly but organically. It's the most rewarding and inspiring part of our creativity. We hope it continues to grow." Last year, the band performed a special show with the Cleveland Youth Orchestra. "It was incredible," says Rotman.

Why You Should Hear Them: Some of the songs on the album are originals and other songs riff on Mother Goose rhymes. The band references well-known rhymes such as "Little Miss Muffet" and "This Little Piggy" but then adds a funk-inspired touch to the tunes. "A lot of people at my kids' school will open their car doors as they drop off their kids and I can see that mom is rocking that CD." The band even has an "adult" version of the album that it takes to parties. "We have a certain sound that you get when you put me and Dave on stage," Rotman says.

Where You Can Hear Them:

Where You Can See Them: Big Ship performs at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 14, at Nighttown.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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