Donna the Buffalo with Opener Western Centuries presented by WMOT/Roots Radio - 1/5/19Saturday, January 05 2019 6:00pm Doors / 8:00pm Start / Ends 11:00pm (Estimated End Time)
Donna the Buffalo with Opener Western Centuries presented by WMOT/Roots Radio - 1/5/19
at City Winery Nashville
- 11:00pm (Estimated End Time)
Distinctive, Groove-heavy, and Danceable, Donna The Buffalo Recording New Album with Producer Rob Fraboni
Donna the Buffalo is joining forces with legendary Producer/ Engineer Rob Fraboni to record their next album February 2018 at Sonic Ranch in El Paso, TX. It is the world’s largest residential recording studio and is built around an 80-year-old hacienda and 3,300 acre pecan orchard right along the Mexican border.
Fraboni is well known for his work with Bob Dylan, The Band, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Tim Hardin, The Beach Boys, Joe Cocker, and Bonnie Raitt, and as Vice President at Island Records where he oversaw the remastering of the entire Bob Marley catalog. He produced the soundtrack on Martin Scorsese’s groundbreaking concert movie, The Last Waltz, which included an all-star cast of famous rock and roll performers. He built and designed the legendary Shangri-La studios in Malibu to the specification of Bob Dylan and the Band and is referred to as a “genius” by Keith Richards in his bestselling autobiography Life.
Donna the Buffalo’s fanbase, The Herd, will be excited to hear this news since their most recent album, Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday, came out nearly five years ago in the spring of 2013. All Music Guide says of it, “This is what 21st century Americana sounds like, a little bit of this and that from anywhere wrapped up into a poignant, jamming dance reel, a place where the past and history meet easily in the immediate now and everybody feels like dancing.”
Known as one of the most dynamic and determined bands continuously touring America since 1989, The Erie Times says, “They craft spirit-soaring songs with distinct sensibilities: Nevins’ songs are unfailingly melodic, brisk and buoyant, powered by her reassuring, wisdom-soaked vocals and ever-present fiddle and accordion. Puryear’s songs accentuate the groove, his exceptional guitar work and sly, Dylan-like way with lyrics.”
New Haven Register expands upon this to say, “Donna the Buffalo knows a thing or two about rhythm. Cajun, zydeco and old-time rhythms. A bit of reggae rhythm. Various guitar and fiddle rhythms. The rhythm of traveling by bus year after year for more than a quarter-century now, criss-crossing America… over and over again.”
Donna the Buffalo is Jeb Puryear (vocals, electric guitar) and Tara Nevins (vocals, fiddle, guitar, accordion, scrubboard) joined by David McCracken (B3 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.”
Donna the Buffalo drew it’s original inspiration from a cherished part of the American heritage: the old-time music festivals of the south that drew entire towns and counties together. Not only was it playing music at these events, it was the vibe and the togetherness that bonded the people that attended.
“Those festivals were so explosive, and the community and the feeling of people being with each other, that’s the feeling we were shooting for in our music.” Puryear says, “Donna the Buffalo is an extension of the joy we’ve found.”
“It’s a great feeling to promote such a feeling of community, like you’re really part of something that’s happening, like a movement or a positive force…” Nevins says. “All those people that come and follow you and you recognize them and you become friends with them — you’re all moving along for the same purpose. It is powerful. It’s very powerful, actually.”
Donna the Buffalo has released ten albums and are affiliated with several others including two solo albums from Nevins: 2011’s Wood and Stone (produced by Larry Campbell in Levon Helm Studios) and Mule to Ride in 1999, Puryear’s 2007 solo album Hopes and Dreams, and a 2003 release, Wait Til Spring, with Jim Lauderdale. The band’s 2008 release, Silverlined, as well as the 2013 release, Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday, (both on Sugar Hill Records) did well on the Americana Music Chart, each placing well into the top ten.
“Though it will always be hard to pinpoint the key to an act’s staying power, distinctiveness and consistency surely can’t hurt.” Pittsburgh City Paper says, “Donna the Buffalo has carved out a niche; it has weathered trends, and even made some of its own by being unapologetically itself.”
When did country music start to sound the same? The first generation of country artists borrowed from everything around them: Appalachian stringband music, Texas fiddle traditions, cowboy songs, Delta blues. In an era of unprecedented access to our musical pasts, shouldn’t country music be even more diverse than it was in its infancy? Honky-tonk supergroup Western Centuries, back with a new album in 2018, surely understands this. They aren’t bound by any dictum to write songs in a modern country, or even a retro country style; instead they’re taking their own personal influences as three very different songwriters and fusing it into a sound that moves beyond the constraints of country. Part of the reason they can make music with this range of influences is because of their roots in city life. Both Cahalen Morrison and Ethan Lawton, two of the three principal songwriters, live in Seattle’s diverse South end, and the third songwriter, Jim Miller, spends most of his time in and around New York City. The urban landscape is rarely mentioned in country music, but it makes for a refreshing sound that draws as easily from modern R&B as it does George Jones. It helps too that the album was recorded and co-produced by acclaimed musician and Grammy-winning producer Joel Savoy in Eunice, Louisiana, where local Cajun and Creole artists have always been adept at marrying old country sounds with R&B and rock n roll.
With Songs from the Deluge, out April 6, 2018 on Free Dirt Records, Western Centuries brings three songwriting voices together into a more unified sound than ever before. Over the past year of heavy touring (since the release of their last album), they’ve pushed each other hard as songwriters. But with a band this well tested on the road, it’s the sonic and lyrical places where each artist’s styles depart that’s most interesting.
Ethan Lawton, known for his earlier work in Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers, loves to pen imaginative parables about people living at extremes. "Wild You Run" by Lawton tells the story of watching someone you love deteriorate with a crippling addiction. The subject chases his temptation, but loses his soul as Lawton cries out helplessly "I won't tell mama what you done, go have your fun....” Lawton's "My Own Private Honky Tonk" is a rambunctious new take on the drinkin' alone narrative which finds Lawton dancing and playing music until the downstairs neighbors call. It's a boogie-woogie flavored tune à la Fats Domino that highlights the upright bass work of Nokosee Fields, the band's newest member. With the opening track, “Far From Home,” Lawton wails "mother, dear mother, won't you spin a yarn about the way things were.” It's about the dark days that young men found abroad in Vietnam and the personal wars they had to fight when they returned back home.
Cahalen Morrison, known for his earlier duo work with Eli West, is the country boy to Lawton's urban cowboy, inspired by his love for cowboy poetry and the New Mexican desert where he grew up. He's got a knack for bending words around stories until they're as funny as they are tragic, as fantastic as they are real. His songs grow like mesquite in the desert; they twist and turn. On "Earthly Justice," Morrison sings of barflys and their troubles, remarking sardonically "if earthly justice just don't get them in the end, there's always a heavenly trial on its way" as vocal harmonies and pedal steel two step all around him. On Morrison’s album closer "Warm Guns,” he waxes quixotic about loss in love, singing in Spanish about being a victim of his own flaws.
Jim Miller, known for his earlier work with Donna the Buffalo, is the resident psychedelic poet. Like the best country songwriters, Miller's sense of communion with nature turns his songs into works of magical realism. On "Wild Birds", a song about a road-bound band, he consults the moss, befriends the tide, and survives fire all while asking for prayers to guide his band home to the end of their migration. "Borrow Time" features Louisiana accordion legend Roddie Romero, and the album's best harmonies between the three lead singers. Some of his most beautiful lines happen on "Time Does The Rest" as he sings "Your heart knows what’s best / Hold her close, the lips will confess / Let it rise let it fall, time does the rest".
Western Centuries’ music crosses vastly differing geographies–the city, the southwest, the metaphysical. And their musical influences are equally as diverse. Together, they weave a tapestry of western music, without sacrificing their hard-earned country dancehall sound. Songs from the Deluge will levitate heavy hearts, turn spilled beer into ballads, and bring country music home as literate, epic odysseys from parts unknown.