The Next Big Thing

After trading contact info, Perricelli hopped in his friend's car, then had second thoughts and returned. Meanwhile, back on the purple bus, Kelly was telling her friends, "'Thank god that little man left, 'cause otherwise I'd have to bring him home with me.' And in walks Chris," Kelly says, "and jaws drop. And I was just like, 'Okay, gotta go.'"

The recessional at their wedding was the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love."

THE FOLLOWING NIGHT AT THE Current's Studio M—an expansive Abbey Road compared to Drive 105's cramped control room—the little man pulls me aside as if to pass along a secret.

"I was going to tell you something," he says. "All artists are heroes in the symbolic sense that they bring back something from the woods, and give a gift to the community." He's riffing on Joseph Campbell and the hero's journey. The name Little Man, he explains, has a double meaning—and no, not the one that cock-rockers might use when they talk about fucking groupies. In mythology, the hero in the wilderness often comes across a little man, a guide, who gives him what he needs to move forward.

"Don't you find it amazing that people write songs out of nowhere?" asks Perricelli. He's not bragging so much as filled with wonder. "You pull it out of the ether."

Perricelli adds that he thinks his tarot card is the Hermit, "like the one on the back of Led Zeppelin IV," and that the hermit is also a guide. In other words, Little Man is looking for his own Little Man, but also wants to be a Little Man for other people looking for their Little Man.

During the Local Show taping, the band has a false start on "Out for Miles," but the second take leaves Perricelli elated.

"I hope everybody feels as good inside as I do after that song," he says to the band.

Host Chris Roberts brings up the group's pending March 16 appearance at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. "I can't help but believe that all those label scouts and music writers and bloggers are just going to go gaga over it," he says.

When the show wraps, Perricelli takes care to thank and compliment everyone involved, much as he did the night before at Homegrown. "You guys did such an awesome job," he says to the musicians, and the sentiment seems genuine. He's still enthusing in the elevator after they're gone. "That was golden," he says.

"One thing I just can't get over is how genuinely cool and nice and friendly he is," says bassist Ben Foote afterward. "He thanks me after every show and shakes my hand."

Later the same night, at the George Harrison tribute hosted by Famous Dave's, Perricelli is once again the little man onstage. He's arrived late, too late to play before headliner Curtiss A. So he goes on last, around midnight, after the final raffle prize—and after downing a pork sandwich without cheese. (Little Man trivia: He's lactose intolerant.) It's here that Perricelli finally pulls out the three gems that he habitually keeps in his pocket: rose quartz (for love), orange carnelian (for creativity), and aqua marine (for communication).

"I don't always have them," he says, perhaps wary of a Lucky Charms joke that never comes. "You don't need them. These things are within you." The song and album title "Soulful Automatic" refers to a point where you possess what you need from Campbell's mythopoetic Little Man, and can continue on without him. Another way of putting it would be that you're expressing yourself naturally.

"Have you reached that point?" I ask.

"I'm working on it," he says.

Unless cynicism is your religion, this is where you'd have to concede that the rocks have something to do with the Rock. And you take Perricelli—the aspiring gnome, the seeker, the hermit, the Little Man—as he comes.

Once Curtiss A winds up, a few others onstage begin to load out the sound equipment, which seems to bother Perricelli not a bit. Before a dwindling audience, the small singer gives his full voice and electric guitar to a song by the most spiritual Beatle, "It's All Too Much."

It's all too much
It's all too much
When I look into your eyes
Your love is there for me
And the more I go inside
The more there is to see

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