Little Bighorn
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Little Bighorn

Cleveland, Ohio, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Cleveland, Ohio, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Rock


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Chaperones, 2012
Golden Gloves, 2014



The interesting thing about the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers biopic Runnin Down a Dream (Bogdanovich, 2007) is the almost total lack of drama in the four-hour long film. Minus a couple of bumps in the road with a drug-addicted bass player, an angry drummer and the deliberate torching of Tom Pettys Encino, CA home, the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers story goes like this: the band was great from the start, were successful almost immediately and maintained their greatness and success over a thirty-year career. Not a lot of struggle. Almost all up. Very little down. It's a long magical story with almost no narrative arc that is kind of surprising that they stretched into a four hour film when it is just as powerful and the same story as a short blurb.

Little Bighorn gets almost the same blurb.

Little Bighorn's leaders/songwriters/singers/guitarists/brothers Nick and Tony Cross were great right of out of the gate. The Cross brothers previous band's (Coffinberry) story was almost too perfect. Two brothers start a band and it's the first band that either one ever were in. Their first gig was at the Beachland Ballroom in May of 2002 opening up for the French Kicks. People dug them immediately and the initial comparisons to the Strokes, the Walkmen and Interpol were not inaccurate.

Tony Cross was the leader singer of the band when they started. Their drummer quits. No drama. Tony Cross takes over on drums, Nick Cross starts singing and the band gets better, developing a rootsier and more Midwestern rock sound that was described as the Replacements crossed with Deer Tick and regularly compared to Cleveland's power pop legends, the Mice and Dayton's Guided by Voices;  labels of convenience but true. There really is something in Ohio's rock soil.

The Cross brothers grew up in rock and roll. Coffinberry was nearly inseparable. They lived together in the same house for a half dozen years where they practiced and recorded a handful of well-received albums. Living together, recording in the basement, touring the country in a van and doing everything themselves turned the band from young hopefuls to rock lifers. That's whats important. At some point while their twenties were looking at their thirties, the Cross brothers realized that rock and roll is what they were doing with their lives and the rest became easy. That's whats perfect. Even the breakup of their band when a member was moving out of town seemed natural and right in the moment.

Coffinberry played their last show to a ridiculously packed house just like the Mice did before them more than twenty years before. Except that it was intentional that Coffinberry ended that way, unlike the Mice, and completely free from the drama of a band breakup. And poetic. And magical. Like they should have made a movie about it.

The Cross brothers picked up right where they left off in Coffinberry with Little Bighorn. With the addition of Matt Charboneau (ex-the Revelers) on bass and Jason Look (the Prisoners) on drums, they added two musicians who could have been in their previous band and immediately seemed like they were playing together for their entire lives. Like a story. Their first gigs had Tony Cross playing acoustic guitar and Charboneau playing stand-up bass, highlighting a rootsier, folksy sound. Little Bighorn's first record, 2012's Chaperones is a pure mix of Americana and alt-county and the initial vinyl-only press sold out immediately.

Since Chaperones, Little Bighorn has gradually turned up the volume, left the acoustic instruments in the practice space, and returned to what it is that they have always done:  writing near-perfect rock and roll songs. Golden Gloves is a hook-filled record that aches with maturity. The songs, divided equally between Nick and Tony Cross, rock more than the first record and the lyrics paint an impression of lives in the middle of living. It's not rocket science. It's rock and roll. And there is a beautiful simplicity in declaring that rock and roll is what you are doing with your life and that's it. That's what Little Bighorn is doing here.

"I don't want to be around when the way you're living catches up to you."

 - C.J. Klasa, host of the Monday Morning Jazz and Blues Radio Show, WCSB 89.3 FM, January, 2014.

Band Members