Donna The Buffalo, Pearl Street Nightclub, Northampton, MA- 8/17
There seems to be a pattern developing, every time I make the trek out to Northampton to catch a show, I end up leaving with an ear-to-ear grin. This past Saturday would turn out to be no different as Donna the Buffalo brought there unique brand of Roots-rock music to Pearl Street Nightclub.
After spending the better part of a week groveling for a ride to this show, my good friend Armand took pity on me and carted my butt more than half way across the state so we could take in another show from this fine six piece.
We got a late start hitting the road and that coupled with the always challenging parking scene in Northampton we walked in the doors and rushed up the stairs to the ballroom to here them playing a decent Positive Friction. As it turns out we missed the first two songs but within a minute we were immersed in a sea of swaying souls and all troubles were forgotten. Considering the show must have started at before 9pm I was surprised how crowded the cavernous room was. In Boston few shows start before 9:30 so I consider it dumb luck that we didn’t miss more of the show.
At this point you could still dance your way to the front of the hall but once up there you would immediately begin to overheat from the heat being produced by the loyal following that always seems to inhabit the highly coveted section of dance space right in front of the band. This being my fifth time seeing DTB I was pleased to see many familiar faces and although it was packed like a New York City subway at rush hour I decided to take up residency on the right side near Tara Nevins. A few songs later I was pretty near drenched in sweat as they belted out a stirring rendition of “Movin’ On”.
It was around this time that I noticed the growing smiles on most of the bands faces. After each song the crowd was stoking the fire with bountiful applause and DTB was upping the ante by increasing the intensity. While this is nothing new to DTB or other shows, the exchange on Saturday night was so clear it merits noting. When I am attendance at such an event (and the music merits it) I try and give back a little extra to encourage others to do the same. After all, never has the clichldquo;You reap what you sow” been truer than at a live musical performance such as this. When you give the band everything you have inside you the band will often return the favor by giving you all they have got as well. For me this exchange is part of why seeing live music can be such a compelling and often passionate experience.
“Tides of Time” would follow next and keep the masses moving about as they soaked up each note. After some strong versions of “Yeah Your Right”, “One Drop of Rain” and “Forty Days and Forty Nights” Tara Nevins took the mic for the soul inspiring “Faith to Believe” and a rare “Running Down the Rock of Ages” giving Jeb a chance to catch his breath before taking the gloves off for Woody Guthrie’s “Ballad of Pretty Boy Floyd”.
After playing 20 songs without stopping, Donna the Buffalo finished off the set with one a mellower tune, “No Place Like the Right Time.” While this song definitely has a country twang to it, it’s both soulful and catchy. In fact if I ever get into country music later in my life (doubtful), it will because of compositions like this one. One might say that ballads like this are simple, but I would be inclined to argue that while the music is basic the lyrics command great emotion.
The encore would bring on yet another one of my favorites, “Love is the Only Thing” coupled with “If You Only Could.” On the latter tune, Tara Nevins’s singing complemented with Kathy Zeigler’s beautiful work on the keys. As they left the stage nearly everyone stayed for a few moments in case of a double encore, but when the lights came on, one could understand. Donna the Buffalo had more than earned their rest.