Donna The Buffalo: 25 years of community through music
Renowned road warriors bring their infectious musical blend to New Brookland Tavern on Thursday
Donna The Buffalo is a band that has made its reputation on the road, playing the festival circuit and the bars alike with an infectious blend of rock, folk, cajun, country, and more for the past 25 years.
One indication of the level of appreciation the band’s fans have for them came in 2016 when they had to retire the group’s venerable purple tour bus and purchase a new one.
The GoFundMe page that was started to raise the $85,000 was shut down after it topped $90,000, proving the support of fans to keep the band on the road.
“We’ve been doing this a long time and know that we have fans and friends who follow us, but when something like that happens it is reaffirming and encouraging,” singer, fiddler, and washboard player Tara Nevins said during a phone call this week from the new bus as the band traveled to yet another show.
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“If we didn’t have that core group of fans out there we’d just be blowing in the wind,” Nevins said. “We love what we do, playing music every night, but the fact that we have a community surrounding it and that it feels like we’re giving something meaningful to others, that keeps us going.”
Musically, Donna The Buffalo’s songs fall into lyrical territory that celebrates peace, love, and togetherness without ever getting too specific.
Nevins and fellow singer and songwriter Jeb Puryear have distinctly different styles that nonetheless mesh seamlessly, her fiddle and folk side balancing his classic rock tendencies so that they stitch together a Little Feat, zydeco, and 60’s rock ‘n’ roll fabric that’s as comfortable-sounding as the patchwork musical quilt that it is.
During the past election season the group came as close to being ‘political’ as they ever have, embarking on a string of events with Ben Cohen that focused on the cause of getting ‘big money’ out of politics.
“For the most part we were preaching to the choir with our fans,” Nevins said. “Even though our music has that uplifting, positive message we are not hardcore activists. We felt we could do this one thing because it wasn’t about one side or the other but about our system and how we run elections—it was good thing to do.”
Heading into 2017, the band finds itself heading into the spring and summer festival season with not only this month’s slate of club shows but some music cruises, including a late January Caribbean trip with Dark Star Orchestra. Nevins notes that these bigger events are where the band thrives.
“Festivals are the best gigs,” she said. “They are where the community thing happens in a big way, and I love that people can get exposed to all kinds of different music. For the cruises, it’s like having our fans take a vacation with us.”
The Donna The Buffalo sound has one effect that’s nearly undeniable when you experience it in a live setting, wherever that may be. It makes the audience get up and dance.
“I don’t really know where it all started with us, but people come to hear us and are entertained, so they dance,” Nevins said. “They also get a message, and there’s that feeling of community. So, instead of just being wowed by someone’s musicianship, you can come out and be a part of the Herd, even if it’s just for one night.”
Donna The Buffalo
New Brookland Tavern – 122 State St., West Cola
Thursday, Jan. 5 — 7:30 p.m.
$17 advance, $20 day of show