Posts Tagged ‘Grassroots’


Roaming with the Buffalo

by Nicole DeLawder in The Hudson Valley news

“The Hudson Valley is just beautiful,” Tara Nevins of the grassroots band Donna the Buffalo noted, “in fact, all of New York State is beautiful.”

Nevins, singer/songwriter, guitarist and fiddle-master for Donna the Buffalo, grew up in the Hudson Valley and currently resides in Piermont. With a couple weeks off before getting back on the road, I caught up with Nevins as she took a break from working on her new solo album at Levon Helm’s Studio in Woodstock.

“There’s a sense of community that is positive and healthy for society,” Nevins said about being a part of the Hudson Valley Green Festival at the Staatsburgh State Historic Site on Sept. 4. “Plus, you get to be outside all day.”

The one-day music, alternative energy, food and beverage event will host Donna the Buffalo performing on the main stage after John Brown’s Body, complimenting the solid line-up of Duke and the King, BeauSoleil Band, Amos Lee and Blues Traveller. Along with the mainstage, there will be a performance area for emerging Hudson Valley artists, and Terrapin Restaurant and Catering will provide food, a drinks pavillion featuring local beers, a farmer’s market and 20 on-site vendors selling Hudson Valley products.

Donna the Buffalo are no strangers to the festival scene. Over 20 years ago, the group’s dedication to live roots music founded the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance Festival in Trumansburg.  After the well-accepted success of their first festival, the group then birthed the now biannual Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival in Silk Hope, North Carolina.

Known for often socially conscious, foot-tapping music heavily steeped in traditional mountain music, Donna the Buffalo creates an eco-minded approach that will blend seamlessly with the ideals of the Hudson Valley’s first green festival.

Alongside multi-instrumentalist Nevins, guitarist and songwriter Jeb Puryear, keyboardist Dave McCracken, bassist Kyle Spark and drummer Vic Stafford create an environment infused with every genre of music ranging from Cajun/zydeco to folk and reggae. The band’s 2008 release “Silverlined” rose to number eight on the Americana Music Chart.

Together, Nevins and Puryear have written over 140 songs, while also collaborating with some big names in the business including Bela Fleck, Mamadou Diabate, Claire Lynch, David Hidalgo, The Duhks and Amy Helm. This past year, Nevins toured with former Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann’s band, BK3, and her new solo album in the works is produced by Larry Campbell, most well-known as multi-instrumentalist on Bob Dylan’s “Love and Theft” and as a part Dylan’s live band for several years. Campbell also holds two Grammy awards for producing Levon Helm’s “Dirt Farmer” and its follow-up album, “Electric Dirt.”

Nevins has spent over 20 years perfecting the fiddle in the Old-time musical community and [explored] her love of Zydeco and Louisiana culture with a documentary on the late Carlton Frank, one of the last old-time Creole fiddlers, who passed away in 2005.

Over the years the group has created a community environment, both at live performances and online, to which their fan-base, The Herd, steadily follows. The band’s lyrics comment on love and politics with an upbeat rhythm that vibrates throughout the crowd. According to one fan, “There is some deeply satisfying solace in what Donna the Buffalo has to say and how they say it.”

Tickets are available at http://www.hudsonvalleygreenfestival.com, MusicToday.com, Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck and Rhino Records in New Paltz. Children under 12 are admitted to the event free of charge. The festival will be held rain or shine. On-site parking will be available.

Check out the Hudson Valley News online here: http://www.thehudsonvalleynews.com/HVNews/HVNews.html

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GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance ~ A Music Lover’s Paradise


Click here for this year’s schedule

The 20th annual GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance starts today in Trumansburg, NY!!! There has been a ton of talk  about this years fest; here are a few excerpts and links to the full articles. Enjoy!

Paradise Sound

by Luke Z. Fenchel on July 21, 2010 The Ithaca Post

Four days. Four stages. Almost 80 bands and artists. All are good reasons that the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance lives up to its motto, “a music lover’s paradise.”

… old-time, world beat, sacred string, country, bluegrass, Cajun, Zydeco and even rock ‘n’ roll, in an extravaganza that brings together musicians from around the world and up the street

…The seeds for GrassRoots were sewn more than 20 years ago, when the band Donna the Buffalo invited two other Tompkins County acts to get together and perform a benefit concert to support the fight against AIDS. Gathering at The State Theatre, The Horse Flies and Johnny Dowd’s Neon Baptist performed a show that had both a social and a musical component.

…“It was fueled by the AIDS crisis at first,” Jeb Puryear noted. “But soon, it became a focal point for positive energy for tons of people around.

“We were interested in creating a musical event that had a social purpose on top of it, and they become equally important,” he added. “We were creating the groundwork for a really long thing. With each year, it grows further and further into the local fabric.”

…“GrassRoots is like a little city,” Executive Director [Jordan] Puryear said. “It’s a team effort. All of the attendees, all of the crew chiefs that volunteer their time, and all of the others that lend a hand to make it what it is.”

… “There is a sense of ownership that doesn’t really play a role in most summer festivals,” Romer said. As a result, festival organizers feel “like the audience are our bosses.”

At the end of the day, the significance of a festival relies not on the caliber of its headliner but by the quality of its constituents. It is the milieu, not the marquee that makes a gathering memorable; community rather than celebrity. Try to conjure up a mental image of Woodstock: for the most part the focus would surely center on the crowd and not the stage.

…A considered mix of the global and the local, the festival elucidates connections between zydeco and reggae, hippies and Touregs. At GrassRoots, all music is dance music, and it’s dance music from every nook and cranny of American culture. Dropping by Trumansburg this week answers the question not only what the next American music will sound like, but what community can feel like.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: http://theithacapost.com/2010/07/21/paradise-sound/

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Music festival celebrates 20 years

By Derrick Ek, Corning Leader , Posted Jul 20, 2010 
Grassroots was founded in 1991 by Jeb Puryear – the songwriter, vocalist and guitarist for the host band, Donna the Buffalo – along with a large circle of his fellow musicians, friends and family that has since become its own self-sustaining non-profit organization supported by hundreds of volunteers.
…“Before long, though, lots of people just came along and said, ‘Hey, looks like you need some help organizing this or that,’” Puryear recalled. “All these people with good energy, really brilliant people, put all this stuff together and make it work. The volunteerism is amazing.”

In terms of attendance, Grassroots has slowly grown to approximately 10 times its original size: About 1,500 people attended the inaugural edition, and a total of 15,000 came through the gates last year, according to the festival office.

…Puryear sees no end in sight for Grassroots, which has the feel of a family reunion sometimes, he says.

“I would like to see it go on forever, pretty much,” he said. “It’s not like this amazing trick or anything. The vibe is going good, people like to get together, they like to hang out and play music, they like to hang out and listen to music, they like camping. If you go up there, you’re going to get all of that.”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HEREhttp://www.the-leader.com/features/x700416709/Music-festival-celebrates-20-years

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Yes, it’s true. A statewide NC NORML Chapter is now underway (but not yet nationally certified) and we are getting together, and getting down, this Sunday, June 27th. The time for action is now, as we enter the last weeks of the legislative session where the North Carolina Medical Marijuana Act, HB 1380, is pending. Come be a part and learn how to best convey your grassroots support! Part 1 is an organizational meeting; Part 2, an awesome musical celebration!

It all starts at 7pm at the French Broad Brewery with a private organizational meeting. This group will be limited to 50 people, and we will explore ideas, such as:

  • public educational events
  • legal education and action
  • music and arts events, festivals
  • adventures in public assemblage
  • documentary and film making
French Broad Brewery is opening special for us and OFFERING $3 PINTS AND DONATING $1 back to help NC NORML get 501(c)(3) status. So come on out, drink awesome local brew (as your initial donation) and throw your ideas into the mix. RSVP to Jen Foster at jnfoster@mindspring.com if you want to get involved.

Starting around 9:30pm, the Garage will host an amazing night of music to celebrate:

Aaron "Woody" Wood, Jay Sanders, Jason Flournoy

Whenever Aaron Woody Wood, Jay Sanders, Jason Flournoy and Mike Rhodes get together, it is always Trouble.  Long time friends and musical companions, these fearless adventurers have long been an exciting and pivotal part of the Asheville music scene.  Their collective resume spans such influential groups as Acoustic Syndicate, The Blue Rags, Donna The Buffalo, Larry Keel and Natural Bridge, Hollywood Red and Shanti Groove just to skim the surface.  But none of the individuals have ever been bound to a singular identity.  Rather, each player has forged a unique and celebrated voice in the musical community.  You can expect to be entertained by their virtuosic skills as the four travelers embark on another epic adventure.  Just be sure to have your seat belt fastened, we wouldn’t want to lose anyone during take-off!

Closing out the evening are  The Screaming Js!  Boogie woogie baby! The Screaming Js are: Jake HollifieldJason Krekel, Abe Reid, Mike GrayJonathan Paul Hess, Underwood, + Special guests as announced…

Minimum $10 door to help gain 501(c)(3) status, additional contributions always welcome!

Bring yourself and ALL of your friends and be part of this historic formation of NORML in North Carolina. Spread the word.

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Donna the Buffalo headlines the Blue Plum Festival in Johnson City, TN this Friday, June 4th. They start at 8:30pm for this free street festival. Check out this great interview:

Donna the Buffalo’s mysterious soup: ‘the rhythm, the message, the sense of community’

By Doug Janz | Wednesday, June 2, 2010


The roots rock/jam band Donna the Buffalo touches on a lot of musical styles, incorporating folk, rock, country, reggae, old-time, zydeco, cajun, jazz and even a little bluegrass. But what makes the band so popular and longstanding is something more than just the music.

“I think over the years it’s been kind of a vibe,” said Tara Nevins, one of the group’s co-founders. “Whenever you go to a show, a vibe is created. It’s a community feeling that brings people together. I guess people like our message, it’s sort of a positive experience, and people love to dance.

“So there’s the rhythm, the message, the sense of community — it’s a very mysterious soup with a lot of ingredients in it.”

Nevins plays acoustic guitar, fiddle, accordion and washboard as well as sings, while band co-founder Jeb Puryear sings and plays electric guitar.

The lineup has changed a few times over the years, always maintaining the band’s organic sound, and now includes Dave McCracken on keyboards, Kyle Spark on bass and Vic Stafford on drums.

Nevins and Puryear have been friends for 30 years and struck some musical sparks early on. Despite the fact they’re two very different personalities with unique sounds and styles, they meshed well. He’s been described as having a Bob Dylanesque quality, while Nevins has drawn comparisons to Stevie Nicks, Emmylou Harris and Natalie Merchant.

“We’re similar and we’re different, and that’s what makes it work,” Nevins said. “The inspiration and begining of it all was playing old-time fiddle music, just sitting in an open field, playing it over and over and getting into a groove. “Then it eventually went electric, but at the time everybody in the band played only old-time music, so to jump into the world of keyboards and drums and electric guitars, it was a new mode of expression. And it evolved from there.”

Their music is rhythmic but has a looseness and rawness to it. As a regular member of the jam band community, they’re always able to improvise, follow the music and follow the vibe.

“We don’t have a set list, we never have,” Nevins said. “We get up there and play what we feel, usually. “We try to decide what the first three songs might be, but even that can change. We used to make set lists all the time 20 years ago, but we’d never stick to it ever, so we just get out there now and play.”

This year they celebrated 20 years of the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance in Trumansburg, N.Y., an event Nevins and Puryear founded. Another festival spun off from that, the GrassRoots Festival in Shakori Hills, N.C., near Chapel Hill, which DtB regularly plays, as well.

“Festivals are the best gigs there are,” Nevins said. “You’re reaching the most people at one time, they’re feeling that vibe and everybody comes to have a good time. It’s a really fertile ground for community and positive feeling.”

They got a nice surprise last month at Shakori Hills when legendary Led Zeppelin bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones sat in with them.

“It was a very cool thing,” Nevins said. “He was actually going from the West coast back to England, but he couldn’t get back home because of the volcano (in Iceland). We were surprised that he stopped by, but he got up with us and played some keyboards and mandolin and it was great.”

As for the group’s odd name, it has no deep, significant meaning. Originally they were thinking about Dawn of the Buffalo as a moniker, but it was mispronounced, they all laughed about it and, somehow, the name stuck.

Their fans are a driving force in the band’s creativity. Known as The Herd, this extended Donna the Buffalo family “gives us something,” Nevins said, “and we try to give back to them.”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: http://www.gotricities.com/article.php?id=7372

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By Stratton Lawrence, Special to The Post and Courier
Thursday, January 28, 2010

After 20 years performing together as co-leaders of Donna the Buffalo, Jeb Puryear and Tara Nevins’ onstage banter often could be mistaken for the playful chiding one might hear between a married couple, long after the honeymoon phase is over.

The musical pair has no romantic past, but the band’s honeymoon rolls on year after year. “Silverlined,” released in 2008, garnered the Americana/zydeco/roots band playtime on the GAC cable channel for the music video “Locket and Key.”

In 2009, Nevins added to the Upstate New York band’s famously faithful fanbase (“The Herd”) by touring with BK3, the side project of the Grateful Dead’s Bill Kreutzmann, on backing vocals and fiddle. They’ve recently toured with Little Feat, and 2010’s schedule includes dates with Hot Tuna and Railroad Earth and stops at popular festivals such as MerleFest, Suwannee Springfest, and LEAF.

“We’ve been lucky to have an audience that likes what we do,” says Puryear.

The band supports taping and sharing of their live show recordings, and The Herd comes out en masse to Donna the Buffalo’s own homegrown festivals, Shakori Hills in North Carolina and Grassroots in New York. And these days, almost no one ever mistakenly addresses Tara as ‘Donna.’ “Less and less, thank god,” she laughs.

But after two decades on the road, how well do Puryear and Nevins really know each other? Preview put them to the test with a classic Newlyweds-style round of cross-questioning.

Q: What song has Jeb/Tara always wanted to secretly cover?

Tara: Geez, I don’t know.

Jeb: “Take It Easy” by the Eagles.

Score: Jeb 1, Tara 0 (Jeb picked “Everyday People” by Sly & the Family Stone).

Q: What is Jeb/Tara’s biggest guilty pleasure on the road?

Tara: Drinks.

Jeb: She likes to have her cocktails.

Score: Jeb 2, Tara 1.

Q: Does Jeb/Tara have any insecurities on stage?

Tara: “He wants the groove to be the right groove.”

Jeb: “Before the music gets rolling, she’s always a little uptight. Then it smoothes out and it’s all great.”

Score: Jeb 3, Tara 2

Q: If Jeb/Tara could only play one festival next year, which would it be?

Tara: Grassroots.

Jeb: MerleFest.

Score: Jeb 3, Tara 3 (Tara would play the Telluride Bluegrass Festival).

Q: What band would Jeb/Tara’s dream co-bill?

Tara: The Beatles.

Jeb: Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Score: Jeb 3, Tara 4 (Tara would tour with Sheryl Crow).

Q: What is Jeb/Tara’s favorite state other than New York?

Tara: Tennessee and North Carolina.

Jeb: Alabama.

Score: Jeb 3, Tara 5 (Tara chose North Carolina and nailed Jeb’s two-state answer).

Q: Has Jeb/Tara ever turned down a song that you brought to the band?

Tara: No.

Jeb: Yes, but no one else liked that song either.

Score: Jeb 4, Tara 6 (Although Jeb did ask for a lyric update: “I wanted her to change a lyric on ‘I Don’t Need a Riddle.’ She sang, ‘I don’t understand,’ and there’s not many things she doesn’t understand very clearly, so it didn’t ring true. She changed it to, ‘I don’t want to understand,’ and then I felt all right playing it.”)

Q: What song is Jeb/Tara most excited to play on this tour?

Tara: “Ding, Dang, Dong.” I think that’s what he’s calling it.

Jeb: “Family Picture.”

Score: Jeb 5, Tara 6 (“She plays that song every night,” says Jeb of ‘Family Picture.’ He chose “Conscious Evolution” as his song of choice.)

The pair knows each other pretty well, it turns out. The stop on Sunday at the Music Farm at 32 Ann St. is the band’s first visit to town since 2008 (Jeb says he’s excited for “the dirt, the air and the people.”). So if you haven’t “Herd of ’em,” here’s your chance to get to know Donna as well as the duo knows each other.

If you go

Who: Donna the Buffalo with The Believers.

When: Sunday 7 p.m.

Where: The Music Farm, 32 Ann St., downtown.

Cost: $15 in advance at www.etix.com, all Cat’s Music and Monster Music locations; $18 the day of the show.

Hear the Music: www.donnathebuffalo.com.

Info: 577-6989, www.musicfarm.com.

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by Jason Sandford in Vol. 14 / Iss. 47 on 06/18/2008

Mountain Xpress, http://www.mountainx.com/

Maybe you’ve been soothed by the strains of Wind Motika‘s calming flute. Perhaps you’ve gyrated with the Asheville Hoops women. Or you might have just jammed with some of the other musicians taking their turn.

Programming the park: Wind Motika performed his flute music in Pritchard Park recently as part of a slate of performances by local musicians and artists aimed at transforming how the park is used. Photo By Jason Sandford

It’s all happening in Pritchard Park as part of an ongoing effort to make the park friendlier to downtown residents, workers and tourists. The cultural-arts programming, which started this month and is scheduled to run through September, is the latest move in the remaking of the triangular park in downtown Asheville.

A city committee spent a year studying ideas to rejuvenate the park, and settled on a couple of ideas. Earlier this year, the city hired a park ranger with a $29,000 annual salary to help police the area. And City Council agreed to waive permits and fees and put another $10,000 in taxpayers’ money toward an effort to bring in artists and musicians. The committee raised $15,000 from private donors for the park’s arts programs.

“I think it’s the city’s responsibility to provide programming to activate its parks—to lead the way—but the city can’t do it without help,” says Kitty Love, who is managing the park programming and works as executive director of the nonprofit Arts 2 People. Love wants to see downtown workers and residents support the scheduled events. She’s also looking for an additional $15,000 in support.

Musicians play lunchtime gigs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and there are some evening events scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Love has openings and encourages artists and musicians to sign up.

She is also working on organizing an artists’ market that would be held Saturdays through the summer. “It’s the beginning of my vision of what Asheville needs, which is a Berkeley market, where people can bring anything and everything,” Love says, noting the funky California college town’s sprawling market of artists and street vendors.

The goal: “Transform the way the park is used. You can’t wait for the park to be perfect. People need to come and support the activities,” says Love, who sees larger possibilities.

“The bigger picture is a rejuvenation of the entire grassroots arts community. The more that those emerging, creative entrepreneurs are getting paid for their work, the more it encourages the creative arts that everyone loves.”

The Pritchard Park Cultural Arts Program will hold a kick-off celebration in the part from noon to 3 p.m. on Friday, June 20, featuring Jen and the Juice, The Honeycutters and the Galen Kipar Project. For more information about the program, visit http://www.arts2people.org.

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