Photo by Erin Scholze
The last time I’d tasted the talent of Tara Nevins was when she took stage at The Grey Eagle back in December with her intrepid band of gifted musicians. I was invited to finally catch her pride and joy, Donna the Buffalo at The Orange Peel. This wasn’t the first time I enjoyed their tunes but was the first time I was able to witness the group live and there’s only one word to sum up the show, FUN. Simply, they are an eclectic jam band that writes excellent songs that are fun for the whole family. I wouldn’t know about the small scene that follows Tara or Donna The Buffalo if it wasn’t for a dear friend that recently passed named Matthew Reid Fisher. This show reminded me of him and his great taste and his love for DTB.
DTB’s magnetic force of energy brings the crowd to their dancing toes. With a wide range of women who look like they could be your mother, to young, funky faces the pleasure is obvious on and off the stage. The band not only is having a literal party on stage, but the fans in the crowd bounce from side to side. Sometimes all it takes is a niche, and the members of Donna the Buffalo have certainly found theirs. With their easygoing songs and a low-key peace-love vibe honed over the past 17 years, the western New York folk-rock band knows how to make their fans happy. It was a generous set, spread over more than two hours, with guitarist Jeb Puryear and violinist/guitarist Tara Nevins alternating on lead vocals on songs drawn from folk, country, rock and Cajun traditions.
Nevins showed her talent by playing 5 different instruments. Beginning with fiddle, moving to accordion, guitar, tambourine and washboard on the thrumming, bayou-flavored “Part-Time Lover,” Nevins has a pretty, slightly frayed voice that sounded wistful on the countrified “Locket and Key” and bobbed lightly on “Blue Sky,” an easy flowing rock song with Puryear’s electric guitar cascading over Nevins’ sturdy acoustic strumming. Puryear sang with the same mellow inflection as Willie Nelson, though the former’s voice isn’t quite as rich, and he played his Stratocaster guitar without a pick, coaxing a smooth, buttery tone from the instrument. Backed by drums, bass and keyboards, the co-leaders had an easy rapport with each other, and with the crowd, who had a great time.
Donna and company kick out the jams in the way that only they can. Songs like “Blue Skies” and “Greatest Love” show that they have not lost that feel-good vibe, while “Deeds of a Few” and “Love and Gasoline” showcase the considerable songwriting ability of Jeb and Tara respectively. Trying to pick a favorite DTB song is like trying to pick a favorite parent, it’s simply impossible.
I will never again miss another Donna The Buffalo show when they come within 50 miles and neither should you. If you need a reason to put a smile on your face and get the lead out on the dance floor, check out Donna The Buffalo on tour now!