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21 Jun 2013

Have You Herd? Donna the Buffalo Sets a Pioneertown Date

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For fans of Donna the Buffalo (“The Herd,” as the band refers to them), the five-year wait for a new album is over: On June 18, the band released Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday.

However, local fans of The Herd still have a bit of a wait to see the band live: Donna the Buffalo is making a stop at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Friday, Aug. 2.

“I told my booking agent, ‘We’re not going out West without booking Pappy and Harriet’s,” said Tara Nevins, in a recent phone interview from New York.

Inspired by the old-country music sound, folk music, bluegrass and what has been known as “roots music,” Donna the Buffalo was formed in 1989 in Trumansburg, N.Y., by Tara Nevins and Jeb Puryear, the songwriters for the group. In almost a quarter-century together, the band has released 10 studio albums. They even started their own annual live show in upstate New York, the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance, which draws around 15,000 people each year.

The band has gone through various lineup changes through the years.

“Jeb and I are the only original members at this point. Right now, I think we’re really enjoying this band out of any version we've had. I think this version somehow really makes the voice come across as the best,” said Nevins.

The band is often labeled as an Americana act.

“Donna the Buffalo was ‘Americana’ from the first day,” said Nevins. “There have always been a ton of Americana bands, and there always will be, and now there’s a home for them. That genre is growing year to year, and now there’s an Americana category at the Grammy Awards. It’s growing in the eyes of the music world. But Americana bands have always been here, and now there’s a name for them.”

As the genre grows, so, too, does Donna the Buffalo’s success. The group’s independent spirit and busy touring schedule has kept them successful. Their 2008 album, Silverlined, reached the Top 10 on the Americana charts. They’ve performed and recorded with some of the biggest names in folk music, including Béla Fleck, David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, and Jim Lauderdale. Nevins also performed as a member of Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann’s band BK3.

“We’ve always been a grassroots, self-organized organization,” Nevins said. “We’ve never had to really depend heavily outside of our organization. We’ve kind of built everything ourselves from the ground up, so we’re a well-oiled machine.”

Nevins said social networking hasn’t hurt, either.

“I think with social networking, it makes music and musicians more acceptable to people. It used to be you had your favorite bands, and all you knew was what Rolling Stone was writing about them. Now you can go on your own band’s Facebook page and be in touch with the fans.”

As for Pappy and Harriet’s, Nevins explained why she enjoys the venue.

“I have to say: I love the location,” said Nevins. “I love being out there. It’s gorgeous. It’s a very magical, mystical vibe. As for Pappy and Harriet’s, it’s like a roadhouse where people are up for fun and love music. Everyone is really nice to us there. During our first time there, we had a great crowd, and everyone loved it.”

Donna the Buffalo will perform at 8:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 2, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

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