It’s difficult to put the complexity of Austin Pidgeon’s music into words. Pidgeon, a senior at Santa Clara University, doesn’t confine himself to a specific genre of music, although he claims his band, Austin and the Pigeons, is best classified as California reggae.
“We have too many hands in jam music, in the blues, and in hip hop to limit ourselves to one closed genre,” said Pidgeon. “It’s tough – on one end, as a band you want to choose a style, to really hone your sound under one genre in order to gain a following there, but on the other end, if you pre-define your sound too much, you pigeonhole your own creativity as a band and prevent yourself from exploring and growing musically. We call ourselves a “reggae-jam band,” but only to the extent of the songs we are currently writing and performing. We’re always open to change.”
“Reggae, for me, has such a wealth of rhythm and such incredibly conscious lyrics, but presents them in the simplest ways,” said Pidgeon. “It’s funny, as much as I love jam bands, I can get lost in the experimental and overly complex song structures and melodies of some groups like the [Grateful] Dead. Reggae breaks the music down to its simplest form, emphasizing the heartbeat and the brain – the drum and bass – and relies on simple melodies and simple lyrics to express its spiritually conscious and firm messages. “Be not selfish in your doing, pass it on; help your brothers in their needs, pass it on,” Bob [Marley] and the Wailers sing. It’s truth, beauty, and simplicity.”
Inspired by his friends and family, his never-ending struggle with faith, nature and Earth, Pidgeon sees music in a special way. “Music is a privilege, it is an escape, it is a liberator, a politician, an upsetter, and a way of life.”
“One theme I explored in [my album] The Santa Clara Sessions is the idea of seizing the moment, of trusting that in every situation, good or bad, we are exactly where we are supposed to be, whatever that means. In “What I Find,” the opening track on The Santa Clara Sessions, it reads: “I don’t know where I’ll go. I’m not looking, I’ll just find…what I find.” This line is pretty important to me. I’ve found in my life that when I look too hard for something, I often don’t find it, or I find something completely different and altogether better…When I did this at Santa Clara – stopped looking for an experience and just enjoyed the one I was in, with the people I was with – I came away with some amazing friends and great memories.”
Austin and the Pigeons (Quinn Peck, Owen Watson, and Ian Brown) find their music stands out most during live shows. “We love to get the crowd involved and adjust our performance to our audience,” said Pidgeon. “Often times, we’ll invite friends on stage to perform covers with us, or just leave an extra mic open on stage for anyone who feels the urge to get up and sing with us…I guess as much as we are the performers, we are also just fans of the music and part of the crowd ourselves.”