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Known as one of the most dynamic and determined bands continuously touring America since 1989, Donna the Buffalo crafts “spirit-soaring songs with distinct sensibilities.” The Erie Times-News says, “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.”
The 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 consists of Jeb Puryear (vocals and electric guitar) and Tara Nevins (vocals, fiddle, guitar, accordion, and washboard), joined by David McCracken (Hammond B-3 organ, Hohner Clavinet, and 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 its 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 who 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 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. In 2011, Nevins released Wood and Stone, produced by Larry Campbell in Levon Helm Studios and Mule to Ride in 1999 on Sugar Hill Records.
Multi-instrumentalist Tara Nevins and Jeb Puryear, both ace guitarists, split vocals and writing for this band that’s country, old-timey, rock and roll, and, well, just all around great
Donna the Buffalo is quite simply one of the groovin’est bands in America, . . . a bona-fide American institution.
—New Haven Register