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About Donna The Buffalo
Known as one of the most dynamic and determined bands continuously touring America for nearly thirty years, Donna the Buffalo has created a community environment at their shows through their distinctive, groove-heavy, and danceable music. With roots in old time fiddle music that evolved into a soulful electric American mix infused with elements of cajun/ zydeco, rock, folk, reggae, and country, Donna’s music often contains social and moral responsibility as core beliefs, and they are just simply fun to get out and celebrate life with.
“Donna the Buffalo… amazing swirl of squeezebox, Hammond organ, fiddle and pulsing electric guitar… Their hippified Zydeco sound first reached my eager ears at MerleFest ages ago when they were stirring the Dance Tent into a swirl of sweat and energy,” says Music City Roots’ Craig Havighurst. “They’re as fine a band for close listening as they are for a party – a sound that’s been honed and practiced since 1989. Jeb Puryear and Tara Nevins share vocal and songwriting duties with he on Stratocaster and she on fiddle or sometimes Cajun rubboard. They don’t make news very often; they just play and tour and play and tour.
Donna the Buffalo is Jeb Puryear (vocals, electric guitar) and Tara Nevins (vocals, guitar, fiddle, accordion, scrubboard) joined by David McCracken (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.”
“You have to do just what you want to do, and everyone likes different things,” Nevins says. “Both Jeb and I come from this background of old-time fiddle music, which is very natural, very real, very under-produced, and all about coming from the gut—flying by the seat of your pants. So we have that in us, too.”
Their old school purple Eagle tour bus, however, was something that just wouldn’t “go.” Well known to The Herd across the country, as the band travels spends over half of each year on the road, they put 1 million miles on the original engine traveling from coast to coast; from their home in Trumansburg on down to Suwannee, from MerleFest to Mcdowell Mountain, from Blue Heron to Grand Targhee, and every fine venue in between. Over mountains, through valleys, across plains, and desert, their bus enables Donna the Buffalo to share their music with you all.
Earlier in the year, they successfully funded a new tour bus through GoFundMe raising over $85,000 in just a few weeks. “We thank you all for your continued support, love, and friendship. It means the world to us. We can’t do this without you and we can’t thank you enough. Peace and Love Always,” says Donna the Buffalo.
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.”
Jeb talks of his inspiration “rolling off all the great protest songs and the socially conscious music like Bob Marley and The Beatles and Bob Dylan – all of that stuff. So that, to me, is sort of like a tradition to write from that angle as a way of reflecting on what you feel about the world and how you feel it could be better and getting to a different place as a society. There’s also the strength that comes from music and gives you the feeling like you can change those things and make some progress, and then express some of the particulars about what you’d like to change.”
“If there’s a common thread, it’s an up-tempo beat that gets audiences dancing, moving and smiling, even for the more topical songs. That’s part of the point: Sending energy and spreading joy can be political acts… ‘The vibe is going to be the big change, out of a passion for living,” Jeb says said to the Rochester Messenger Post. “Just that kind of energy, something we kind of feel in ourselves.” It’s certainly kept the band rejuvenated, he noted: It’s “having an absolute chemistry that’s creative and can still be exciting over 20-something years.’”
“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.”
“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,” writes All Music Guide.