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Jack Gladstone - Buffalo Cafe

Buffalo Cafe

Jack Gladstone

Available for download from DigiStation.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

I reviewed Jack Gladstone's Tappin' the Earth's Backbone here, and Buffalo Cafe is a disc that came out in 1997 but deserves ongoing attention. As said in Tappin', Gladstone is cast in the mold of Gordon Lightfoot, a sound there's just too little of, but, unlike Lightfoot, who tends to beautiful melancholy, Gladstone is an irretrievable optimist and an interesting realist, though of a reality well divorced from norms, completely spiritual and compatible not only with the Blackfeet heritage he loves but all true heartfelt philosophies. In fact, in When the Land Belonged to God, I found a stanza that would have immensely pleased Schopenhauer:

Time respects the careful hand
When chosen colors are dry,
The vision forever stands
The purest gift is not of gold
But in art that awakens the soul.

Understanding and harmony are hugely important to Gladstone, so he included extensive liner notes carrying not only the lyrics, which are an enjoyable read in themselves, but also a backgrounding to all the cuts. Nor does he avoid the unpleasant truisms of the meeting of the ravenous European invaders with Native cultures…though he takes a very tempered tone I certainly never would, bastard that I am, nor would Russ Means. The composer is really just hoping to set many records straight and at long last gain the respect the original people upon the land are much overdue.

Jack Gladstone strums a very pleasant guitar and then brings in the superb Lloyd Maines (also the CD's producer), a gent crucial to the overall sound, nor are David Griffith's keyboards unimportant, lending wider airs and vistas. The recording's open and uncluttered, preserving every note, extremely pleasing to the ear, with Gladstone's vocals ever in the fore, dancing and pondering in his inimitable fashion…which, in Lewis and Clark Rag, suddenly dips into the Roaring 20s (!). As with Tappin' the Earth's Backbone, Buffalo Cafe gives the listener a dose of humor, introspection, history lessons, vaulting spirit, and a generous double handful of a prime musician's craft.

  • Buffalo Prelude
  • Buffalo Cafe
  • Napi Becomes a Wolf
  • Faces the Blizzard
  • Elk Dog Song
  • With the Coming of the Horse
  • Lewis and Clark Rag
  • Colters Run
  • The Interpreter
  • Whoop-Up Trail
  • Garryowen
  • Valley of the Big Horn
  • When the Land Belonged to God
  • The Rose of Fort MacLeod
  • Buffalo Cape Reprise
All songs written by Jack Gladstone except Lewis and Clark Rag (Greg Keeler).

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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