OMG!! New Blind Melon?!?!?!?

OK, forgive me, but I’m going to gush like a school girl for a minute.

More than ten years ago, my friend Noel and I jumped out of the back of the band’s tour van at the onramp to route 87 at about 3 in the morning on August 13th, 1994. The band was on it’s way back to Rochester from a gig at “Cahoots,” a strange little bar/restaurant in Poughkipsee, NY. Come hell or high-water, Noel and I were on our way to Woodstock ’94.

We hitchhiked our way there, with whatever we brought with us to the gig (most of which was, in my case at least, lamentably useless) and a stolen bottle of Jack Daniels from the bar (word to the wise: always pay the band). We got picked up by an old hippie that had been at the original Woodstock and never left. She and her girlfriend ran a flower delivery service, if you can believe it. It was my first experience hitchhiking, my really first huge festival concert. There are many, many more stories to be told from that weekend.

But the most life-changing experience for me was on Saturday morning after Joe Cocker’s somewhat boring performance, when Blind Melon took to the stage. Like most people, I’d heard “No Rain” entirely too many times, and had long-since chalked them up to another wussie band like Collective Soul. Just another ugly blip on what was an otherwise astonishing year for new music. When Shannon Hoon pranced out front in a white dress, yellow sneakers and his hair in barettes, I had little doubt that I’d misinterpreted the signs. Still, with 350,000 people in attendance, our spot might well have been the best we could have hoped for, and moving away from the stage wasn’t going to make things any easier, so we stayed.

Then they played 2×4 and from that point on, I was one of the biggest Blind Melon fans around. Noel shared my passion for the band, and so did my friend Lee. We have collected bootlegs, rareties and anything else we could get our hands on for years after the fact.

But of all our friends, only Noel and I ever got to see them live. It was a rare, fleeting moment for a couple of stoners to spend some time with an incredibly underrated band. Apparently, they played the former “Blind Melon’s” nightclub in Buffalo, but that was before we knew about them. Lee and I got the new album, Soup, as soon as it came out and listened to every single track three times that night. What an amazing, radical departure it was from the first album. Gone were the pseudo-Tesla sounds, and into that void poured a more focused yet more adventurous sound with the heart beat of New Orleans pumping through the whole thing.

Then came the moment when, ironically outside of Tippy Tina’s in New Orleans, Shannon Hoon died and the Blind Melon world went dark.

Other bands with the guys from the Melons happened, Extra Virgin, Luma, Unified Theory. In the meanwhile, the fans you might have expected to have moved on have done nothing of the sort. No one has forgotten anything. Everybody is still waiting, still watching, still holding candle-lit vigils for Shannon Hoon. In fact, there are 10,000+ fans on Blind Melon’s MySpace page, a site that only got started ten years after Shannon’s death. There is also a very active forum discussing the band and a tribute album.

And now, it appears, there is a new singer and a new album due out soon. There is a new video of the band playing one of the new tracks, as well. Certainly, the vocals are quite a departure from Shannon’s, though I suspect that is a good thing, creatively speaking. But there is much in the music that sounds just like the good old days, and I cannot wait to see where they go from here.

Oh, yes. I will see them live. Again.

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.

1 reply on “OMG!! New Blind Melon?!?!?!?”

Great article Thomas, I would love to get in touch with you in touch in regards to a future blind melon website that i would love the contribution of your article

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