This year at MerleFest, Donna the Buffalo plays sets on multiple stages:
Watson Stage Saturday Night Jam with Donna the Buffalo and Special Guests!
Sets on the Americana Stage, The Dance Tent, and The Hillside Stage.
Tara Nevins and Jeb Puryear also make an appearance in the Walker Center Stage as part of Docabilly Blues Blowout with Mitch Greenhill, T. Michael Coleman, Jeff Little, Jorma Kaukonen, Jim Avett, and Pat McInerney.
See DtB’s Full MerleFest Schedule Below
Known as one of the most dynamic and determined bands continuously touring America for nearly thirty years, Donna the Buffalo has created a community environment at their shows through their distinctive, groove-heavy, and danceable music. With roots in old time fiddle music that evolved into a soulful electric American mix infused with elements of cajun/ zydeco, rock, folk, reggae, and country, Donna’s music often contains social and moral responsibility as core beliefs, and they are just simply fun to get out and celebrate life with.
“Donna the Buffalo… amazing swirl of squeezebox, Hammond organ, fiddle and pulsing electric guitar… Their hippified Zydeco sound first reached my eager ears at MerleFest ages ago when they were stirring the Dance Tent into a swirl of sweat and energy,” says Music City Roots’ Craig Havighurst. “They’re as fine a band for close listening as they are for a party – a sound that’s been honed and practiced since 1989. Jeb Puyear and Tara Nevins share vocal and songwriting duties with he on Stratocaster and she on fiddle or sometimes Cajun rubboard. They don’t make news very often; they just play and tour and play and tour.
Donna the Buffalo first started playing MerleFest in 1994. It was the year the entrance was moved to it’s current location and new stages (like the Dance Tent) were added to help the growing festival. Learn more about the event’s history at Wilkesboro Journal-Patriot in their 2012 History of MerleFest series.
In 2000, MTV.com wrote, “Along with such true-bluegrass names as Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Sam Bush, and Laurie Lewis & Her Bluegrass Pals, some odd monikers show up on the schedule for this weekend’s MerleFest in Wilkesboro, NC… Odd as in Donna the Buffalo… Bands such as Donna the Buffalo… have often found themselves at odds with folk purists, but they’ve been accepted over the years at MerleFest and are just now finding summer homes at other festivals.”
“I think the festivals have broadened their scope. MerleFest was always pretty broad,” Donna the Buffalo frontwoman Tara Nevins said to MTV in 2000. “They’re having us this year for the dance [stage]… we fit because they’re broadening, but we also fit because we have a lot of roots stuff right in there… I feel there’s a thread between all that, whether it’s country, old time — the roots. So it’s exploring the thread between the idea of one world, one music community, one roots thing.”
Mountain Times’ Derek Halsey wrote in 2016, “Donna The Buffalo became a perennial favorite at MerleFest long ago. The rootsy and diverse jamband, based in upstate New York, has made a point of being a part of the North Carolina festival scene over the years and their appearance in North Wilkesboro every April has become a tried and true tradition.”
“We love playing in the Dance Tent as it is a fun set,” Nevins said in the interview with Halsey. “It has been a very long time. I can’t remember the first year that we played at MerleFest… We definitely feel like we’re a part of the MerleFest family and we love the festival and always look forward to it.” In 2016 Donna the Buffalo was honored to host the late-night Saturday night Midnight Jam for the first time (Mipso hosts in 2017).
Now, in 2017, this broad range of talent shines through honoring MerleFest’s roots and branches with a stellar lineup that includes, Transatlantic Sessions (hosted by Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain with special guests James Taylor, Sarah Jarosz, John Doyle), The Avett Brothers, Zac Brown Band, Bela Fleck, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, Del McCoury Band, Leftover Salmon, Sam Bush Band, The Earls of Leicester featuring Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan, Steep Canyon Rangers, The Kruger Brothers, Jorma Kaukonen, The Steel Wheels, Mipso, Scythian, Chatham County Line, Sierra Hull, I Draw Slow, Jim Lauderdale, Bryan Sutton Band, Donna the Buffalo, The Waybacks, David Holt, Pete and Joan Wernick, Chris Jones & The Night Drivers, Claire Lynch, Front Country, The Stray Birds and lots more!
This year at MerleFest, Donna the Buffalo is stacked with sets on multiple stages including closing out the Watson Stage for a Saturday Night Jam with Donna the Buffalo and Special Guests! They also have sets on the Americana Stage, The Dance Tent, and The Hillside Stage. Tara Nevins and Jeb Puryear also make an appearance in the Walker Center Stage as part of Docabilly Blues Blowout with Mitch Greenhill, T. Michael Coleman, Jeff Little, Jorma Kaukonen, Jim Avett, and Pat McInerney.
Donna the Buffalo is Jeb Puryear (vocals, electric guitar) and Tara Nevins (vocals, guitar, fiddle, accordion, scrubboard) joined by David McCracken (Hammond organ, Hohner Clavinet & piano), Kyle Spark (bass) and Mark Raudabaugh (drums). “It’s been really fun with this lineup,” Puryear says. “You get to the point where you’re playing on a really high level, things are clicking and it’s like turning on the key to a really good car. It just goes.”
Their old school purple Eagle tour bus, however, was something that just wouldn’t “go.” Well known to The Herd across the country as the band travels spends over half of each year on the road, they put 1 million miles on the original engine traveling from coast to coast; from their home in Trumansburg on down to Suwannee, from MerleFest to Mcdowell Mountain, from Blue Heron to Grand Targhee, and every fine venue in between. Over mountains, through valleys, across plains, and desert, their bus enables Donna the Buffalo to share their music with you all.
Earlier this year, they successfully funded a new tour bus through GoFundMe raising over $85,000 in just a few weeks. “We thank you all for your continued support, love, and friendship. It means the world to us. We can’t do this without you and we can’t thank you enough. Peace and Love Always,” says Donna the Buffalo.
With their new bus equipped for the road, they have embarked on tour throughout the states and are thrilled to be returning to MerleFest in 2017!
Donna the Buffalo Full MerleFest Schedule:
Friday: Americana Stage: Donna the Buffalo
1:30 PM – 2:15 PM
Friday: Walker Center Stage: Docabilly Blues Blowout with Mitch Greenhill, T. Michael Coleman, Jeff Little, Jorma Kaukonen, Jim Avett, Tara Nevins, Jeb Puryear, and Pat McInerney
3:45 PM – 4:30 PM
Friday: Dance Tent: Freestyle Dance with Donna the Buffalo
5:15 PM – 6:00 PM
Saturday: Autograph Booth: Autograph Session with Donna the Buffalo
12:00 PM – 12:30 PM
Saturday: Creekside Stage: Tara Nevins is joining in on Memories of The Watson Family hosted by T. Michael Coleman with Watson Family Friends
12:00 PM-1:30 PM
Saturday: Dance Tent: Saturday Night Dance Party with Donna the Buffalo
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM
Saturday: Watson Stage: Saturday Night Jam with Donna the Buffalo and Special Guests
9:45 PM – 11:15 PM
Donna the Buffalo will also be part of the Midnight Jam on Saturday in The Walker Center, hosted by Mipso.
Sunday: Hillside Stage: Donna the Buffalo
11:15 AM – 12:00 PM
MerleFest has unveiled the 2017 MerleFest mobile app, now available for download for free. It features the MerleFest lineup and stage schedules, artist biographies, map, announcements, social media links and more.
The app allows users to plan for their entire MerleFest experience. A bonus for MerleFest fans: once downloaded, the app will be fully functional without having connection to phone service. Just visit your app store and search MerleFest and you can have the schedule in your hands before you even get on site!