Rockin' In The Weary Land
Sugar Hill Records
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
It was a stroke of luck to see Donna the Buffalo open the 1998 Newport Folk Festival. I somehow had missed this band. After one short set I was sold on their energetic sound. Rockin' In The Weary Land happily reinforces that great first listen. This CD just makes you happy. Whether it's jug band boogie or jukin' bluegrass, they just get down and play.
Great use of the instruments, clarity in production, and innovative writing bring this CD into the "go bag" when I hit the road. There's a refreshing contrast between the vocals from one track to the next, alternating between Tara Nevin's retro harmonies, and Jeb Puryear's laid-back folk funk.
The instrumentals are exciting and innovative. They "do" harmonicas, squeeze boxes, those spinning whirly percussion do-hickeys, accordions, fiddles, and guitars; with a panache that just forces a closer listen for each instrument's distinctive moment. Sometimes you just think, "Wow."
Example of a wow; Jeb Puryear's delivery of Conscious Evolution, you're moving whether you were in the mood to mobilize or not. Another Jeb cut that throws you is Funky Side. Yet this band is by no means one-dimensional; Tara Nevin smooths you right back into the ebb of a heavy tide with a happy heart and a reassuring softness in, It Will Be Right and Sailing. The cuts are all individual and yet cohesive in nature. Each song creates a moment of its own right.
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Donna the Buffalo is no fly by night band. They've been sharing their music for over a decade. I'm only sorry that I wasn't turned on to them before now. They've cultivated a combined gift of unique styling and creative energy that emanates from the music on Rockin' In The Weary Land and one you enjoy sharing by listening to it. A lot of thought, strings, and broken moments went into this CD to make it a bluegrass marvel worth listening to repeatedly.
Edited by Virginia Wagner