Posts Tagged ‘Grassroots’

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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