Donna The Buffalo
NY | Rock
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. Donna the Buffalo is known for touring the country 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.
“Donna the Buffalo is in the enviable position of being a homegrown entity, a group that finds itself outside the coloring lines of the accepted formula, a formula that is now in the past tense…People doing what they love, and better, sharing that passion to the benefit of the public, is the strongest business formula ever written. Donna the Buffalo is living proof of that.” states Beat Magazine. Edd Hurt with the Nashville Scene writes, “Folkies with a superior sense of rhythm are rare enough, but folkies with a good beat and a healthy disrespect for eclectic clichés are a national treasure….they’ve never sounded better…”
The dynamic songwriting tandem of vocalists Jeb Puryear and Tara Nevins have penned over 150 songs in their collaboration with DTB and have many more in the making. Although never writing a set list for live show, the Erie Times notes, “they stick to a pattern…usually alternating between Puryear’s rhythmic, Dylan-influenced, guitar-centered songs and Nevins’ breezy, melodic, accordion-driven gems like the folksy Tides of Time and infectious Locket and Key.” As of late, Nevins and Puryear have also been known to perform as a duo on air and at live shows, which is always enjoyable to the fans to hear their favorite DtB songs in stripped down arrangements.
Donna the Buffalo is currently recording in Athens, GA with John Keane [R.E.M., Widespread Panic] on their 10th album with Puryear on guitar, Nevins on fiddle, guitar, accordion, and scrubboard, keyboardist Dave McCracken, bassist Kyle Spark, and drummer Vic Stafford. Donna the Buffalo has released nine albums and are affiliated with several others, including a Puryear’s 2007 solo album Hopes and Dreams and a 2003 release, Wait Til Spring, with Jim Lauderdale. The band’s 2008 release Silverlined, on Sugar Hill, rose to #8 on the Americana Music Chart.
Co-DtB bandleader and American roots traditionalist, Tara Nevins, released Wood and Stone, her first solo album since Mule to Ride in 1999 on Sugar Hill Records on May 3rd, 2011. Wood and Stone showcases her ever-evolving repertoire as she journeys both back to her own “roots” and head-long into new territory. The album was produced by Larry Campbell with guests including Levon Helm, Jim Lauderdale, Allison Moorer, Teresa Williams and more. No Depression has called the album, “as invigorating as it is mesmerizing.”
Over the years and through their travels, Donna the Buffalo has had the opportunity to collaborate and/or record with musicians such as Jim Lauderdale, Preston and Keith Frank, Bela Fleck, Mamadou Diabate, Claire Lynch, David Hidalgo, The Duhks and Amy Helm, just to name a few. They are well known for their on stage collaborations in the festival community as well, often bringing musician from all walks up with them to perform.
Donna the Buffalo’s fervent fan base, self-named The Herd, follows the band with zeal and has created a unique and supportive community online and at DTB shows across the nation. Puryear declares, “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.” In an interview with The Roanoke Times, Nevins conveys,, “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…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.” When asked in an interview with the Weekender in PA what new people should look forward to experiencing at a show, Nevins replied “a really friendly, comfortable crowd, and a real community-oriented, positive experience.”
As an extension of this community and the band’s own dedication to live roots music, Donna started, and are still the driving force behind, the 20 year old Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance in Trumansburg, NY and the bi-annual Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival in Silk Hope, NC. DtB are regulars at Merlefest (NC), Suwanee Springfest & Magnolia Fest (FL), All Good (WV), Floyd Fest (VA), and The Great Blue Heron Festival (PA) amongst others. You can also see them in 2011 at DuneGrass (MI), Head Jamz (TN), Targhee Bluegrass Fest (WV) and a variety of other venues across the nation.
With a twenty-two year tenure to celebrate, hundreds of gigs ahead of them, and an ever-evolving grassroots sound; it looks like Donna the Buffalo is riding a cloud that is truly Silverlined.
Asheville NC | Singer-Songwriter
River Whyless is named in spirit of its ongoing love affair with the natural world. Since its formation in 2009 the band has toured extensively, playing hundreds of shows from coast to coast and into Canada. Its debut album "A Stone, A Leaf, An Unfound Door" was recorded in the band's home studio in Asheville, NC and released in March of 2012. Its sound has been described as folk-rock, nature-pop, and baroque-folk, but in the end the members of River Whyless hope only to lend craft to their passions.
Ryan O'Keefe: vocals, guitar
Halli Anderson: vocals, violin
Alex McWalters: drums
Dan Shearin: bass, vocals
Twin Falls ID | Singer-Songwriter
An abbreviated list of Lenker’s achievements so far includes: a significant amount of airplay on the legendary Seattle indie rock station KEXP; a BBC 2 interview with Bob Harris, which is only about the highest honor a rootsy singer-songwriter touring the U.K. can get; opening slots for acts ranging from Willie Nelson to Ray LaMontagne, Nickel Creek, Keith Urban, Susan Tedeschi and Tristan Prettyman; a successful run with one of the hottest young West Coast bluegrass bands of the aughts; and wins in the Merlefest folk songwriting contest as well as the Kerrville Folk Festival’s elite New Folk songwriting competition.
Lenker’s composition “My Little Life” brought him the Kerrville honors this year. It doesn’t seem possible that one song could work so well in such disparate worlds, but it also proved its powers as a galvanizing piece of indie-pop, drawing a small army of likeminded, rising Nashville artists and personalities—Jeremy Lister and Katie Herzig to name two—to make lip-syncing, ukulele-strumming cameos in Lenker’s music video.
The song—which is on the Heart of Gold EP he co-produced with A-list keyboardist Tim Lauer this year—itself points to the uncommon mixture of abilities Lenker has honed. It’s imminently accessible and effortlessly tuneful, plus the lyrics express a familiar idea in playfully unexpected ways while pointing to thoughtfulness just beneath the surface. You can tell the guy’s well-read, but he never comes off as too clever for his own good.
“I like it simple,” says Lenker. “I just do. As soon as there’s a weird chord, I’m like, ’Why? That’s all been done. Who cares?’ What’s really hard is to hit people in the heart and to reach them. That’s what I’m trying to do: make music that’s easily likeable, but with a kind of secret sophistication. I’m always trying to write a song that you can hum along with on the first listen. You’re like, ’Yeah, I’d like to hear that again.’ Then maybe you hear it 20 times and you’re like, ’Damn, that’s actually something I’m going to think about now.’”
But there’s a lot more than that to his instinctual, unorthodox journey from being brought up as a mortician’s son in rural Idaho to being recognized as one of the more innovative voices in Nashville’s current music scene.
Back in high school, Lenker had a cover band that enabled him to try on various alt-rock identities. “We covered ’Under the Bridge,’ by Red Hot Chili Peppers,” he says, “and I didn’t know this at the time, but I listened to it recently and I’m like, ’Whoa, that’s Korby trying to sing like Anthony Keidis. And this is Korby trying to sing like Trent Reznor.’”
After that, he got really into transcribing Trey Anastasio guitar solos as part of his music theory studies at Western Washington University. He also spent a semester in West Virginia with only his Martin D-18 acoustic guitar for company.
Here’s a bit of insight into the spontaneous spirit that makes Lenker’s music so interesting: He picked up a bargain bin copy of the journalistic snake handling memoir Salvation on Sand Mountain, and, with that alone to go on, decided to drive until he found one of the mountain churches mentioned in the book.
Lenker got new perspective, and a song about a snake-handling preacher, from the experience. “I ended up going home with one of the families,” he says. “We rode home with the snake in the box in the backseat. And I got to be friends with this kid who was my age—I was 23 at the time, and he was 23. We couldn’t have had more different backgrounds. He had an 8th grade education. But we somehow also had a lot in common. We ended up trading letters back and forth for years.”
Lenker returned to the Pacific Northwest inspired by his Appalachian adventures and fully immersed himself in the region’s bluegrass scene, forming a band called The Barbed Wire Cutters that proved to be an immediate hit in those parts. And he found ways to apply his pop-honed sensibilities to that tradition.
“I like it tight,” he offers about his experience fronting the 5 piece bluegrass outfit, which SPIN magazine called “The Young Riders of the bluegrass revolt”. “I like the solos short and I like harmonies in tune…it was all song-driven for me.”
All this time, Lenker was also making solo albums, and that became his primary focus with the folk-leaning Bellingham, which went over wonderfully in the U.K. and landed him on Bob Harris’s BBC Radio 4 show. After a move to Seattle, he got the urge to plug in again, hooked up with Candlebox drummer Scott Mercado and made a nimble modern rock record called King of Hearts that got lots of spins on KEXP and a 4 star review in UK mainstay MOJO magazine.
Toward the end of the last decade, Lenker followed his muse down to his present home of Nashville where he’s not only continued to hone his own unique artistic voice, but launched a stripped-down series of performance videos dubbed Wigby, spotlighting kindred musical spirits he’s found.
“I love those videos,” he says, “because it’s just people being great. It’s not production—it’s just, ’Can you sing? Can you write a great song? Can you play your instrument well?’”
Deep down, Lenker is drawn both to the sort of unadorned expression the discerning folkie crowd treasures and to the sort of playful pop embellishment and electronic textures that may land one of his tracks in a primetime T.V. show or film any day now.
And there’s nothing at all wrong with having it both ways musically when it comes this naturally. “I can’t abandon either one of them,” Lenker says, “because they’re both so me. One of my favorite musicians in the world, bassist and composer Edgar Meyer once said in an interview ’The boundaries of music have been and always should be limitless.’ I couldn’t agree more.”
Nashville TN | Country
Jim Lauderdale is a Grammy® Award winning musician and one of the most respected artists working the Bluegrass, Country and Americana music communities today. He is considered one of Nashville's "A" list of songwriters with songs recorded by artists such as Patty Loveless, Shelby Lynne, Solomon Burke, The Dixie Chicks and George Strait, who has had numerous hits with Jim’s songs. Jim’s music has been featured recently on the ABC hit show “Nashville” and he had several tracks on the soundtrack of the successful film “Pure Country.” Jim is also in high demand as a player, touring with the likes of Lucinda Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rhonda Vincent and Elvis Costello.
Jim, who frequently collaborates with legends like Ralph Stanley and Elvis Costello, is also a critically acclaimed solo artist with dozens of studio releases, including his latest Carolina Moonrise, written with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter and Buddy and Jim the critically acclaimed new duets album recorded with long time friend Buddy Miller of which Mojo states: “Miller and Lauderdale's duets has both the easy familiarity of old friends and the musicianship of old pros.”
In addition to making music together, Buddy and Jim also co-host “The Buddy & Jim Show,” recently described as “…highly entertaining…” by NPR’s Fresh Air. Each week Buddy and Jim invite artists to Buddy’s home studio in Nashville, where they tape performances and in depth interviews with a wide variety of artists and friends. Jim also hosts the popular Music City Roots each week from the Loveless Barn in Nashville and since winning "Artist of the Year" and "Song of the Year" at the first "Honors and Awards Show" held by the Americana Music Association in 2002, he has subsequently hosted the show each year.
Jim is the subject of a new documentary, directed by Australian filmmaker Jeremy Dylan called “The King Of Broken Hearts.” The feature length documentary tells Jim’s unconventional and prolific story from his North Carolina roots, being immersed in the country music scenes in both New York City and Los Angeles, to breaking through in Nashville as a songwriter.
Jim's musical influences, including the legendary Dr. Ralph Stanley and George Jones, can be heard in his songs with his unique sense of melody and lyrical expertise. He won his first Grammy Award in 2002 with Dr. Ralph Stanley for Lost in the Lonesome Pines (Dualtone) and then for The Bluegrass Diaries (Yep Roc) in 2007. In addition to previously mentioned releases, as a performer Jim is credited with production, writing and collaborating on over two dozen albums including Wait ’Til Spring (SkyCrunch/Dualtone 2003) with Donna the Buffalo and Headed for the Hills (Dualtone 2004) his first total project with Robert Hunter, Planet of Love (Reprise 1991,) Pretty Close to the Truth (Atlantic 1994,) Every Second Counts (Atlantic 1995,) Persimmons (Upstart 1998,) Whisper (BNA 1998,) Onward Through It All (RCA 1999,) The Other Sessions (Dualtone 2001,) The Hummingbirds (Dualtone 2002,) Bluegrass (Yep Roc 2006,) Country Super Hits, Volume 1 (Yep Roc 2006,) Honey Songs (Yep Roc 2008), Could We Get Any Closer? (SkyCrunch 2009,) Patchwork River (Thirty Tigers 2010) and Reason and Rhyme (Sugar Hill Records 2011.)
Jim's musical influences include the legendary Dr. Ralph Stanley and George Jones. These influences and his unique sense of melody and lyric help forge a sound that is truly his own. As a performer his credits include production, writing and collaborating on albums such as, "Wait 'Til Spring" with Donna the Buffalo, "Headed for the Hills” with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, "I Feel Like Singing Today" and the Grammy winning “Lost in the Lonesome Pines” with Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys.
His second solo bluegrass album, “Bluegrass Diaries” (Yep Roc 2007) won a Grammy in the “Bluegrass Album of the Year” category. His next album, “Honey Songs” was released in February 2008, and features an incredible lineup of musicians including James Burton, Garry Tallent, Al Perkins, Glen D. Hardin, Ron Tutt, Emmy Lou Harris, Patty Loveless, and many more.
Jim’s solo albums include “The Hummingbirds” (Dualtone 2002), “The Other Sessions” (Dualtone 2001), “Onward Through it All” (RCA 1999), “Whisper” (BNA 1998), “Persimmons” (Upstart 1996), “Every Second Counts” (Atlantic 1995), “Pretty Close to the Truth” (Atlantic 1994), and “Planet of Love” (Reprise 1991), as well as two releases in 2006, “Country Super Hits, Volume 1” and “Bluegrass” (Yep Roc), Grammy winner "The Bluegrass Diaries" (Yep Roc 2007), "Honey Songs" (Yep Roc 2008) "Could We Get Any Closer?" (Sky Crunch 2009) and "Patchwork River" (Thirty Tigers 2010).
"It's been a particularly great period for me," says Lauderdale. "Thanks to the records - I'm performing more and more, which I love. And I love that I can play the Opry one weekend, a jam-band festival the next and then a bluegrass festival the following week. That's really inspiring to me and I think there's a real thread there. The roots are the same for all of them and that's the music I'm interested in."