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Published: 2013/07/18
by Glenn H Roth

Donna The Buffalo: Roaming the Country, with Grassroots Back Home

Donna The Buffalo, the eclectic band from Trumansburg, NY, continues to make fans smile, shake and sing-along to social conscious lyrics.

“We never planned it that way,” said co-founder Tara Nevins, who sings and plays fiddle. “but the music we play tends to be very groove oriented. The first song they’re up and they just dance all night. It’s cool because they dance and there’s a neat message too.”

Before a recent New York city gig, interviewed Nevins in person. DTB is touring in support of its new album Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday and will host the Finger Lakes Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance July 18-21 at the Trumansburg Fairgrounds.

Co-founder Jeb Puryear (guitar and vocals), David McCracken (Hammond organ, Honer Clavinet and piano), Kyle Spark (bass) and Mark Raudabaugh (drums) round out the rest of the Donna The Buffalo lineup.

How did you and Jeb meet?

Jeb and I met playing old-time fiddle music in New York State. I was playing in a string band and we went over to Ithaca to play on a radio show and Jeb and his brother heard us on the radio, came up and we all met. And these were some of the early members of the band too that came up at that time. We all started because we all had this connection to playing old-time fiddle Appalachian music and traveling to festivals. I started writing songs and then Jeb started writing songs and then we just transferred from the acoustic instruments to the electric instruments.

How long after that initial meeting did Donna The Buffalo form?

Not that quickly. It probably took 7 to 10 years because there was a lot of traveling around to festivals and playing old-time fiddle music.

Can you talk about your chemistry on stage with Jeb?

I don’t know how to describe it. Right now, the whole band has great chemistry. The five of us have really very good energy. I’ve been playing music with Jeb so long that I don’t even have to think about. It’s a natural chemistry that has grown over the years. You know someone that well, you can play music with them pretty good and you can anticipate their next move. The guys in the band are also musicians and very sensitive to what we already have going on and they add immensely to it. I think this configuration of the band speaks in a uniform way.

Did you ever think 20-plus years later that DTB would still be going strong?

I guess I never really thought about. We were excited when it first started. It was something fun, something new. And basically, we got a bus right away because we couldn’t bare to travel around in cars. So we always had a bus, we had these old-fashion school buses. This is our fourth tour bus, but our first real tour bus. After our third gig, we got a school bus and hit the road. Then we got our first record, and we had the record company and the manager and it all keeps rolling along. You look back and you’re like ‘Wow! We’ve been doing this for 20 years.’

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