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Tara Nevins (of Donna the Buffalo) and Friends
Tour the Southeast This December

Performing Songs From Her Latest Solo Release ‘Wood and Stone’

Tara Nevins and Friends on Tour:
Wed 12/5  Atlanta, GA  Smith’s Olde Bar
Thur 12/6  Charlotte, NC  The Double Door Inn
Fri 12/7  Asheville, NC  The Grey Eagle
Sat 12/8  Huntsville, AL Kaffeeklatsch

“A tour de force from start to finish” –Elmore Magazine about Wood and Stone

“If heroes and heroines of rock ‘n’ roll are defined by their uniqueness, they definitely broke the mold when they made Tara Nevins.” —Wildman Steve

American roots traditionalist Tara Nevins will be touring this winter in the southeast for select shows, in between her other gigs with Donna the Buffalo. She will be performing songs from her latest solo release, Wood and Stone, on Sugar Hills Records which hit in the Top 20 on the Americana Music Chart in 2011.

Joining Nevins for this tour are Riley Baugus (Banjo), Mike Compton (Mandolin), Pete Finney (pedal steel & electric guitar), David Grier (Acoustic Guitar), Todd Phillips (bass), Mark Raudabaugh (Donna the Buffalo’s  Drummer), and Amber-Dawn Rische (harmony vocals & 2nd fiddle).

Fans of Nevins from her 21-year tenure with Donna the Buffalo are familiar with her versatile talents; she shares the vocal and songwriting responsibilities for the band and is a stellar musician on fiddle, guitar, and accordion. (She plays a mean scrubboard too.) Prior to DTB, Nevins was a founding member of the all-female, old time/Cajun band The Heartbeats.

Wood and Stone was produced by Larry Campbell at the Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY and showcases Nevins’ ever-evolving repertoire as she journeys both back to her own “roots” and head-long into new territory. Featured guests on the album include Levon Helm, Jim Lauderdale, Allison Moorer, Teresa Williams, The Heartbeats, along with the core band of Larry Campbell, Justin Guip, and Byron Isaacs.

CMT says, “With the wonderful fiddle groove and vividly written lyrics, Nevins gives a glimpse into her roots. Stepping out for a rare solo record (beyond her beloved band, Donna the Buffalo), she meshes her Cajun influences, unique voice, drums and steel guitars for an intriguing look at her heritage.”

“Two surprises on the album are “Stars Fell on Alabama,” in which Nevins turns the ‘30s jazz standard into a bleak, gothic soundscape, and “Tennessee River,” an even more desolate turn recalling the best of Lucinda Williams,“ writes Lonesome Road Review.

For more visit www.TaraNevins.com

WATCH- Stars Fell on Alabama Official Music Video
WATCH – Tennessee River performance and interview

About the Players for the Tour:

Riley Baugus. Photo by Abigail Seymoure

RILEY BAUGUS
Riley Baugus represents the best of old time American banjo and song. His powerful singing voice and his expert musicianship place him squarely in the next generation of the quality American roots tradition. When not teaching or building banjos, Riley can be found out on the road performing or in the studio recording.  Riley was the acapella ballad singer for the voice of Pangle in the Academy Award-winning film “Cold Mountain”.

His banjo playing can be heard on several recordings such as Alison Kraus and Robert Plants “Raising Sand, Willie Nelsons “Country Music”, and his two acclaimed solo recordings, “Life Of Riley” and “Long Steel Rail”, to mention only a few. He’s performed with many Old Time string bands and artists such as Dirk Powell, Tim O’brien, Kirk Sutphin, and The Lonesome Sisters. Riley makes his home near Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Photo Courtesy of Mike Compton

MIKE COMPTON
Preservationist, performer, modern-day musical pioneer, composer, and educator, Mike Compton, a musician’s musician has rightly earned a reputation as one of the best and most influential mandolin players in acoustic music today. Grammy award winner, nominated IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year, and musical US Ambassador throughout the world, Mike has entertained at Carnegie Hall, at the White House, and been honored by the Mississippi State Senate with State Resolution Number 45, a special honor commending his musical accomplishments.

Over a span of 35 years, Compton has made a career playing on recordings of others adding his signature sound. Mike has made music with such diverse notables as Ralph Stanley, Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes, David Grier,producer T-Bone Burnett (O Brother, Where Art Thou and Down From The Mountain tours), Nashville Bluegrass Band, John Hartford to name a few, and has performed on over 100 CD’s in a variety of genres, with some of the most beloved artists of our day.

Photo Courtesy of Pete Finny

PETE FINNEY
Pete Finney is a pedal-steel guitarist (and multi-instrumentalist) who has toured and recorded with Patty Loveless for over 20 years, and also worked extensively with folks like the Dixie Chicks, Vince Gill, Pam Tillis, Jim Lauderdale, Doug Sahm as well as countless others,
and has recording credits with the likes of Justin Townes Earle, Bonnie “Prince” Billy,  Radney Foster and Beck.

Photo Courtesy of David Grier

DAVID GRIER
The most award-winning guitarist in recent memory is David Grier. For the past several years, he has been voted by the members of the International Bluegrass Music Association as Best Guitar Player of the Year. He has also appeared on two Grammy- winning recordings: “True Life Blues-A Tribute to Bill Monroe” and “The Great Dobro Sessions.” David is also included in the book, “1,000 Great Guitarists.”

In addition to touring solo, David also appears as the guitarist for Psychograss, who are currently celebrating a critically acclaimed new album, “Now Hear This”.  David makes his home in Nashville.

Photo Courtesy of Todd Phillips

TODD PHILLIPS
Todd Phillips is the bassist of choice for many of the most innovative, as well as traditional, acoustic instrumental and bluegrass recordings made since the mid-1970s.  A two-time Grammy Award winner and founding member of the original David Grisman Quintet, Phillips has made a career of consistently performing and recording with acoustic music’s finest and most creative artists.  He also played in The Tony Rice Unit and the now classic bluegrass recording group The Bluegrass Album Band.

Phillips has had the opportunity to work with a virtual “who’s who” of acoustic music’s finest, such as Vassar Clements, Ricky Skaggs, Sam Bush, John Hartford, Jerry Douglas, Alison Brown, Mike Marshall, Stuart Duncan, Tim O’Brien, Del McCoury, Darrell Scott, Larry Campbell, John Doyle, Dirk Powell, Joan Baez and many more.  Phillips has produced recordings for guitar great David Grier; “Panorama”, and two projects for mandolinist Matt Flinner; “The View From Here” and “Latitude”, which lead to the formation of the innovative instrumental trio; Phillips, Grier & Flinner and their two unique and highly acclaimed CDs; “Phillips, Grier & Flinner” and “Looking Back” (Compass Records).   Todd Phillips lives in Nashville, tours with Psychograss, Russ Barenberg & Brittany Haas, will tour Russia (w/ Bill Evans) in August 2012, reuniting with The Bluegrass Album Band (scheduled 2013) and is doing studio work in his new home town.

Mark Raudabaugh. Photo By Lori Sky Twohy.

MARK RAUDABAUGH
Atlanta based drummer, Mark Raudabaugh, is a versatile and skilled performer who is currently on the road with Donna the Buffalo. He has also toured with Papa Mali, Bobby Lee Rodgers and The CodeTalkers, Grant Green Jr., Ruby Velle and The Soulphonics, among many others.

Photo Courtesy of Amber-Dawn Rische Nicholas

AMBER-DAWN RISCHE NICHOLAS
Amber-Dawn Rische Nicholas has been performing worldwide for many years as a violinist and singer with the now disbanded Arista/Sony Nashville signed group, Jypsi. With the band, she had the opportunity to play many prestigious venues such as Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, South By Southwest (SXSW), Stagecoach, and many more including several appearances at The Ryman and The Grand Ole Opry. She has toured/performed with major artists including, Darius Rucker, Ronnie Milsap, Hootie & the Blowfish, etc. She has also gained invaluable experience working in the studio with many of the world’s top record producers such as Don Was, Nathan Chapman, Tony Smith, and the list goes on.

Amber-Dawn presently performs with her husband Bobby Nicholas in their duo BAD Nicholas.  They have recently written and recorded their first album together “We Will Fly”.  Amber-Dawn makes her home in Nashville.

Visit TaraNevins.com and Facebook.com/TaraNevins or Facebook.com/TaraNevinsFiddle for more information about the album, a gallery of images, videos, music, and lyrics.

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Photo by John D Kurc.

Have you Herd? Donna the Buffalo will be traveling the country this fall and winter! Sounding better than ever, they have been in the studio this spring and summer working on a 10th album and will be performing new songs, along with the old favorites, up and down the East coast before heading out West for the first time in a few years. Donna the Buffalo is Jeb Puryear on guitar and vocals; Tara Nevins on fiddle, guitar, accordion, scrubboard and vocals; keyboardist Dave McCracken; bassist Kyle Spark; and drummer Mark Raudabaugh.

LISTEN to an interview on Eternal Jamnation with Tara Nevins about the upcoming album, their fall tour, the Grassroots Festivals & more!

Donna the Buffalo’s feel-good, groove-oriented, danceable and often socially conscious music all began over twenty years ago with roots in old time fiddle music that evolved into a soulful electric Americana mix infused with elements of cajun/ zydeco, rock, folk, reggae, and country. The band is known for touring the country and remaining fiercely independent as one of the industry’s most diverse roots-music bands and has “earned a reputation as one of the most respected, eclectic and hardest-working acts today,” praises Encore.

They embark on an almost non-stop tour through the end of 2012 starting at Rhythm and Roots in Rhode Island followed by shows in Pennsylvania, The Dark Star Jubilee in Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Vermont this September before heading back down to North Carolina for their fall Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival in early October. Then they trek back up to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland before returning to Live Oak, Florida for Magnolia Fest in late October.

They’ll be bringing The Herd out West starting with shows in Alabama, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before a host of shows throughout California the first week of November. They complete the West Coast tour in Eugene, Portland, and Seattle and and then make their way back East.

Donna The Buffalo cap off the year celebrating in Florida with shows in Ft. Lauderdale and a three night New Year’s Eve run at Skipper’s in Tampa!  Stay tuned to facebook.com/donnathebuffalo and twitter.com/donnathebuffalo for updates, photos, and videos throughout the tour!

MoBoogie’s Video of the band performing
Tara’s new song “I Love My Tribe” at The Bluebird in Denver

Donna The Buffalo on Tour Fall & early Winter 2012:

Fri 9/21   Stanhope, NJ   Stanhope House
Sat 9/22  Syracuse, NY  Westcott Theatre *w/ Keller Williams
Sun 9/23   Williamsville, NY   Club Infinity
Thu 9/27   Collinsville, CT  Live @ Bridge Street Live
Fri 9/28   Saratoga Springs, NY  The Putnam Den
Sat 9/29  Burlington, VT  Higher Ground Showcase Lounge
Thu-Sun 10/4-7   Pittsboro, NC   Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival
Thu 10/11   Towsen, MD   Recher Theater
Fri 10/12   Jim Thorpe, PA   Mauch Chunk Opera House
Sat 10/13   Morgantown, WV  123 Pleasant Street
Sat-Sun  10/20-21   Live Oak, FL   Magnolia Fest
Tue 10/23   Mobile, AL   Alabama Music Box
Wed 10/24  New Orleans, LA  One Eyed Jacks
Sat 10/27   Austin, TX   Lambert’s
Mon 10/29   Albuquerque, NM   The Dirty Bourbon Dance Hall
Tue 10/30   Flagstaff, AZ   Orpheum Theatre
Wed 10/31  Los Angeles, CA  The Mint
Thu 11/1   San Diego, CA   Winston’s
Fri 11/2   Pioneertown, CA   Pappy and Harriet’s
Sat 11/3   San Francisco, CA   Slim’s
Sun 11/4   Santa Cruz, CA   Moe’s Alley
Mon 11/5   Mill Valley, CA   Sweetwater Music Hall
Wed 11/7   Sebastopol, CA   Hopmonk Tavern
Thu 11/8   Eugene, OR   WOW Hall
Fri 11/9   Portland, OR   Doug Fir Lounge
Sat 11/10   Seattle, WA   Tractor Tavern
Fri 11/23   Jamestown, NY  Crystal Ballroom *w/ Big Leg Emma
Sat 11/24   Pittsburgh, PA   The Rex Theater
Sat 12/1   Winston-Salem, NC   Ziggy’s
Wed 12/21   Rochester, NY   Water Street Music Hall *w/ Sim Redmond
Fri 12/28   Ft. Lauderdale   Revolution
Sat- Mon 12/29-31   Tampa, FL  Skipper’s Smokehouse
Wed-Fri, Jan 2-4, 2012  Key West, FL  The Green Parrot

More shows tbd…
Stay tuned to www.donnathebuffalo.com

WATCH a documentary made by The Herd: “Have Buffalo, Will Travel”

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by CLARA ROSE THORNTON – Published: February 10, 2011

In 2005, I began working for a music promotions organization called Home Grown Music Network, based out of Mebane, N.C. Founded by radio DJ and music fanatic Lee Crumpton in 1995, it’s a multi-platform company that offers a pool of volunteers, nationwide, willing to promote touring bands in exchange for free music and concert tickets.

Bands are chosen as network members through a rigorous selection process that aims to pinpoint the best independent groups in and surrounding America’s festival scene — bands that don’t fit neatly into simplified genres like “roots rock,” “jam,” or rock‘n’roll’s other current labels.

Once chosen, HGMN (www.homegrownmusic.net) provides several career resources for these groups trudging through the mire of a frenetic — if not negligent — music industry without corporate backing. In addition to the cells of volunteers and fans around the country, bands also get to sell their CDs and merchandise through the well-trafficked website, get added to playlists at affiliate radio stations, and be put in the faces of thousands who might not have heard them otherwise.

HGMN even started its own record label, Harmonized, in 2002.

Needless to say, the folks behind the organization — Crumpton and press/volunteer coordinator Chris Robie — are indefatigable. When I signed on as a volunteer and later a journalist, I received at regular intervals boxes upon boxes of music catalogs, posters, stickers and the best part — free CDs.

I devoured these LPs, EPs, live discs and samplers. In addition to starting my music journalism career, HGMN turned my home into the lush flowering pot of musical mayhem that it remains.

And, as many musicians and promoters know, the relationships between fans and bands of true substance often prove unbreakable.

During this time I discovered Sim Redmond Band from Ithaca, N.Y., whose worldbeat track “All is Not Lost” entered the hallowed ground of my Top 10. I discovered The Bridge, a sumptuous and energetic rock sextet from Baltimore, who, in fact, I’m making a three-hour road trip to see tonight, at Higher Ground in Burlington. I brought my love of them with me when I moved from Chicago to Vermont. That’s the sort of dedication these bands inspire.

Donna the Buffalo was one of these groups. When seeing it in the catalogue, I thought the name was rather strange, but intriguing. It struck me as possibly some Native American band full of environmental activists, people whose concerts included ritual and howls and 10-minute drum jams.

photo by Jim Gavenus

The howls are there, I came to find out, but there are many more whines of the accordion and wisps of Cajun/zydeco tomfoolery involved than riffs on global warming or trance-inducing drum circles. Donna the Buffalo, a 21-year-old cult favorite quintet from Trumansburg, N.Y., is energetic, inventive and soulful, and imagine the thrust down memory lane I experienced when seeing they’d be playing Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction on Saturday. They’ve kept trucking, against the odds for an independent band, and are more popular and prolific than ever.

“We were sitting together in a circle one day, in the earliest days of the band, trying to come up with a name,” recalled co-founder and co-bandleader Tara Nevins, via telephone from the road. “We knew we wanted ‘buffalo’ in there somehow. Someone said ‘Dawn of the Buffalo’ jokingly, mocking a Hallmark sort of theme. But we misheard him and thought he said ‘Donna the Buffalo.’”

“We started laughing, because these things get silly sometimes, and couldn’t stop laughing,” Nevins continued. “We thought it sounded cool and it stuck.”

Nevins — who contributes accordion, scrubboard, fiddle, guitar and vocals — founded Donna the Buffalo with guitarist/vocalist Jeb Puryear in Ithaca, N.Y., in 1990. Nevins had been a longtime fiddle player, and she and Puryear began writing songs together with no definitive plan in place, just exercising creativity in that college town’s rich musical milieu. After returning from a trip to southwest Louisiana for Mardi Gras, she was so deeply inspired by the Cajun and Creole music she’d encountered that she added a zydeco flair to her playing, soon recruiting more members and solidifying the sound of the fledgling band.

Through two decades on the road and seven albums, the band has garnered a dedicated fanbase, coining itself “The Herd.” Puryear’s and Nevins’ poetic lyrics that contemplate life’s longing, losses and exuberance, along with the occasionally kitschy, though upbeat and fun, Louisiana-inspired soundscapes provide quite the singular concert experience. For example, just yesterday, when mentioning my Nevins interview on my Facebook page, a Bellows Falls friend named Dagan Selbach-Broad immediately got excited and responded, “I love Donna the Buffalo! I’ve seen them over 40 times!”

Nevins will release a solo album entitled “Wood and Stone” in April on Sugar Hill Records. Donna the Buffalo’s show on Saturday at Tupelo Music Hall, a BYOB venue, begins at 8 p.m.

Two other concerts occur in southern Vermont this weekend in that road warrior spirit of purity, that essence of which Home Grown Music Network lauds and nurtures.

The first, incidentally, is also a Home Grown band and a zydeco band, Buckwheat Zydeco, from Lafayette, La.

Buckwheat Zydeco

Buckwheat Zydeco is the stage name of accordion player Stanley Dural Jr., born in 1947. He’s one of the only traditional zydeco acts to achieve mainstream, pop culture success; the band is a household name among southern music fans.

He brings his group, formerly billed as “Buckwheat Zydeco and Ils Son Partis Band” to the Bellows Falls Opera House at 8 p.m. tonight.

And tomorrow, San Antonio, Texas, alternative-country songbird Rosie Flores brings her distinctive mixture of Tex-Mex, rockabilly, honky tonk and jazz/swing to Boccelli’s On the Canal in Bellows Falls at 7:30 p.m.

It’s a weekend of from-the-heart, multicultural creative whimsy happening around our stomping grounds. Throw your best “devil may care” glance to the snow and add your yelp.

Clara Rose Thornton is a freelance cultural critic and arts journalist originally hailing from Chicago who now lives in an artists’ colony in Bellows Falls. She can be reached at clara@inkblotcomplex.com, or through her website, clararosethornton.com. Follow her at twitter.com/ClaraRose.

READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE POST HERE: http://rutlandherald.com

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Jacksonville.com/ The Florida Times Union published a gimme 5 with Tara Nevins of Donna the Buffalo promote their show at the Freebird in Jacksonville Fl.

Here are her answers:

Photo by Lewis Tezak Jr.

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TARA NEVINS

donnathebuffalo.com

Tara Nevins sings and plays fiddle, guitar, accordion and scrubboard in the Americana band Donna the Buffalo. The band plays music that incorporates a mix of Cajun/zydeco, rock, folk, reggae and country.

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5 musicians I’d love to record with:

1. Levon Helm: I’ve had the opportunity to record with him a little, and I’d love to do it a lot more. He’s an incredibly soulful musician and an amazing drummer and singer. He’s also a wonderful person.

2. Loretta Lynn: She is my all-time favorite female country artist. I love her voice, her songs and her soulful spirit. “Coal Miner’s Daughter” is my favorite movie; I find her life’s story very compelling. As hokey as it might sound, I’ve even gone to Butcher Holler. I took my fiddle out, sat on the porch of the cabin she grew up in and played a tune!

3. Sheryl Crow: She is my favorite pop artist. I love her songs and her voice, her style of pop music. She has been inspirational to me in some of my songwriting.

4. Marty Stuart: I’ve seen him in concert a few times, and I’ve listened to many of his recordings. He is incredibly soulful and powerful in his presentation of the music he loves. I love his voice and his songwriting. He is a great instrumentalist as well. He’s the real deal.

5. Kid Rock: Yes, I find him to be soulful — something about his energy attracts me. He has an edge that I like a lot. Hard to pinpoint why, but I’d love to record with him.

READ THE FULL POST HERE: http://jacksonville.com/entertainment/music/2011-01-06/story/gimme-5-tara-nevins-donna-buffalo

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Donna the Buffalo‘s eclectic and often socially conscious music has it’s base in traditional mountain music and is infused with elements of Cajun/ zydeco, rock, folk, reggae, and country. The group’s core are vocalists Tara Nevins, who plays fiddle, guitar, accordion, and scrubboard, and guitarist Jeb Puryear. Keyboardist Dave McCracken, bassist Kyle Spark, and drummer Vic Stafford complete the ensemble.

Check out their live performance on WSKG on July 1, 2010.

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Positive Friction: A Q&A with Jeb Puryear of Donna the Buffalo
By Geoff Gehman

This material first appeared on the web-site of the Sellersville Theater 1894 at www.st94.com.

DtB photo by Jim Gevenus

Donna the Buffalo is dedicated to groovy grooves. The band’s five members specialize in upbeat idioms—calypso, zydeco, old-time mountain fiddle—and upbeat lyrics about the state of unions and Unions. They promote virtues—loyalty, charity, curiosity—as founding hosts of two grass-roots cultural festivals—a summer extravaganza on their home turf of Trumansburg, N.Y., and a spring/fall lollapalooza in Silk Hope, N.C. They have a phenomenal following known as The Herd, whose supporters raise money for healthy causes while dancing until the bison roost.

DtB, which plays Sellersville on Oct. 28, is led by guitarist Jeb Puryear and Tara Nevins (fiddle/accordion/scrubboard), who sing lead on songs they write independently. In a recent phone interview Puryear discussed the ups and downs of everything from not having a set list to a Caribbean cruise that was a little too free at sea.

Jeb Puryear. photo by Jim Gavenus

Q: I hear you don’t sleep much during the GrassRoots Festival up in
Trumansburg. What do you get–eight hours in four days?

A: That may be generous [laughs].

Q: Describe a day in the life of Jeb Puryear during last summer’s festival.

A: Well, I usually start the whole festival off by playing in Bubba George, an old-time string band I was in when I was a kid. And then I played in Donna and after that I went and saw Merle Haggard and then I did a set with Keith Frank and then the Believers wanted me to play bass on their set—and they had two sets. For some reason I stayed up all night every night this year. We’re much more invested than many festival organizers. But, then, it’s very exciting to be able to play all that music with so many different folks. With a job like that, you’d just want to be worked to
death.

Q: Is there anything you miss from the festival’s bygone days?

A: I miss the stress [laughs]. Actually, that’s sort of a joke. A lot of people don’t realize that we had absolutely no money when we decided to start a festival. We borrowed $5,000 from a friend of ours and we basically talked the whole thing up. It was touch-and-go at the beginning. Most of the people who do that sort of thing have some kind of money [laughs]. It was really brave and bold and the right thing to do. In the early years I was involved in the day-to-day activities of the office. Today, the office staff absorbs whatever stress there is. They take care of the thing better than we ever did.

Jeb Puryear and Tara Nevins. Photo by John D Kurc

Q: You and Tara met through the old-time fiddle circuit. What was the first clue that you and she could work well together.

A: She was about the first person we met who played songs that sounded like songs you might hear on the radio. Working with her, we learned how to play more song-based music than tune based. She was booked into this vegetarian restaurant and we wound up getting booked there. We were lucky enough that the whole thing worked. People danced to the fast stuff and the slow stuff right from the start. I don’t know why people like to move while we’re playing. It might be because we’re moving all the time.

Q: What are some essential differences between you and Tara as songwriters.

A: I tend to be a little more wordy. She tends to have a little more melody. Over our history I’ve probably been more pointedly political. Our songwriting is different the same way men and women are different: you have to respect the differences. It’s a pretty cool thing to get those male-female perspectives one after the other.

Q: Can you point to a recent band breakthrough, a significant point of departure when you really hit your stride?

A: Last year me and Tara started doing duet shows. Me and her have been playing music for a really long time and because we’ve been at it for so long we can change tempos and styles and it always stays together. The rest of the people in the band saw those shows and decided that the five of us should be as tight, as all together, as the two of us. Since then we’ve really been having a lot more fun.

Q: What kind of democracy is Donna the Buffalo? For example, who gets to choose the set lists?

A: We have a very distorted democracy [laughs]. As far as set lists go, we don’t ever write one. When my brother Jordon was in the group he used to write set lists and they were pretty good. When he left, we started writing set lists and they weren’t very good [laughs]. Now either one of us [Puryear or Nevins] will start playing a song and we try to keep it moving best we can. One good thing about not having a set list is that at least one person in the band feels like playing the song we’re playing. Because we don’t do a set list, sometimes we’ll forget about a song for a number of months. [Keyboardist] Dave [McCracken] has recently been trying to get us to do the older songs more often. I was never really big on change throughout my whole life. But now I’m slowly coming around to realizing it’s not only necessary but inevitable. If you’re going to change, you might as well swivel around and make the change a good one.

Q: I’m always curious about the afterlife of songs—about their zigzag path after you introduce them to the world. Is there one of your tunes that has had a rich side career at weddings, funerals or some other rite of passage?

A: Well, some people propose onstage during our shows; that’s kind of exciting. And we once played at a very personal engagement. Our friend George wanted to propose to his girlfriend Althea, so we showed up nonchalantly and we started playing while he got down on his knees. The song was “This Goes”: the complete line is “This goes to someone I love.” That was pretty cool.

Tara Nevins. Photo by Matt Dunmore

Q: The Herd is the band’s power base, a fellow charitable institution. What is something about The Herd that most non-members don’t know?

A: The main thing I like to say about The Herd is that you don’t have to do anything to be a member. You just have to like a song. Actually, I don’t know if you have to go that far. The herd is a very amorphous thing. They’ve done a lot of good things. One time we all went down to some resort in Key West to do a Herd fundraiser. They set up a stage on the lawn by the beach and we played there for a week. And someone added up all the money that got spent and it was a lot of money. And I thought we directed that a little bit.

Q: What were the highlights of your Caribbean cruise with The Herd?

A: Actually, we’ve done two cruises. The first one wasn’t a real joke but it was a  lark. You know, there’s a small part of everyone who would like to go on a cruise but not be stuck on the ship. We had like 850 people on this boat, and they were our people. And the feeling was: Okay, well, we can all be stuck together. We did a second cruise a few years later. In the middle we went to St. John and the federales came and expelled maybe 10 people for smoking marijuana. It was a bit of an entrapment because if you’re out in the Caribbean and you’re playing Bob Marley on the deck, what are these poor people to do? But they were doing it blatantly and the security guy got personally offended. So we’re playing in the lounge that night and we’re wondering: Are we supposed to have fun now? I mean, all our friends just got thrown off the boat. It’s like that first moment after someone dies and you’re supposed to carry on with your life and you’re not sure how. And our old drummer Tom [Gilbert]—who is a very funny guy—says: “Man, I’ve felt more awkward vibes watching porno with my parents” [laughs].

Q: What’s up next? A boxed set of rarities? A carnival tent tour? Would you like to do what the White Stripes did: make a documentary about playing cafes, parking lots and other pick-up places?

A: I would like to do all those things. A carnival tent tour we talked about. A boxed set of rarities would be great. Actually, we’re planning a record featuring our greatest guests, including some of the people we’ve invited to play songs with us at the end of grass-roots festivals. And I would love to play very small towns all over New York state, towns with just a few houses and a bar. A tiny town tour—that would be cool.

Q: You know, the Moody Blues once considered buying an English village to headquarter their many operations. Have you guys ever been tempted to make a smaller communal real-estate transaction?

A: No–our way of hippiedom is just post-commune. Utopianism is a beautiful subject but if you don’t take it as a challenge, the endless meetings and shared everything will just drive you insane. Especially when you’re in a band. The whole notion of equality in society is interesting but not very realistic. It just kind of doesn’t happen. If you put any five kids together in a room, one of them will become the leader of the others, and nobody thinks that’s weird. That’s not to say that the people who are smart and strong should ruthlessly take advantage of everybody else. There’s all this fine-line interplay about being a communist or a capitalist, a Republican or a Democrat, when it’s pretty much the same subject. People are just fishing around to find the best way to do things.


Fact File: Donna the Buffalo

o The band’s name is a funkier version of the original proposed name Dawn of the Buffalo.

o Annual attendance at its Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance in Trumansburg, N.Y., has increased from nearly 1,500 to more than 15,000 over 19 years.

o Keyboardist Dave McCracken once toured with zydeco star C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band.

o In 2005, Fiddler Tara Nevins prepared a documentary on Carlton Frank, the late, great Creole fiddler.

o DtB songs have been licensed for the cartoon Living Evil, created by Yanni Osmond and Spanky the Woman Tamer.

[Find out more information about DtB’s upcoming show at the Sellerville Theatre on Oct 28th]

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