Called “Americana’s answer to the Grateful Dead” by the Americana Music Show, Donna the Buffalo brings its renowned live show to the Chandler Music Hall in Randolph at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15. The hard-touring upstate New York-based quintet performs in support of its stellar new album, “Dance in the Street,” released last month.
The band’s eighth album and first since 2013’s “Tonight, Tomorrow, and Yesterday,” “Dance in the Street” is a winning and assured set of new material, and a welcome return for one of the most celebrated and accessible roots groups around.
Formed in 1989 by guitarist Jeb Puryear and multi-instrumentalist Tara Nevins in Trumansburg, New York, Donna the Buffalo blends myriad styles into its original roots music mix, infusing it with everything from folk, Cajun/zydeco and country to rock, funk and reggae. Other band members include keyboardist Dave McCracken, bassist Kyle Spark and drummer Mark Raudabaugh.
Donna the Buffalo’s ever-increasing and loyal multi-generational fan base, known as “the herd,” attracts one the broadest demographics on the festival circuit, drawn to the band’s dance-inducing sound and community-minded spirit. And the songwriting and band-leading partnership of Nevins and Puryear is one of the best and most enduring in the business.
“Our history is so long and very successful musically,” says Puryear in press materials. “She’s my best friend — we’ve done this forever. It’s a big part of what makes it still interesting to do. We definitely have a good, rough-and-tumble, super-longstanding respect and love.”
For “Dance in the Street,” Donna the Buffalo joined forces with legendary producer/engineer Rob Fraboni, best known as the producer of “The Last Waltz” soundtrack and for his work with Bob Dylan, The Band, Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. Recorded at Sonic Ranch Studio in El Paso, Texas, Fraboni set out to capture the essence of Donna the Buffalo’s live performances, recording the band in a circle directly to tape, for a fully analog recording that’s as warm and inviting as the band’s live shows.
The track list alternates in his-and-her fashion, kicking off with the Puryear-penned title track, an upbeat and political call to self-empowerment through self-expression, tempered with doo-wop vocals. Nevins’ “Motor” is a steady-rolling standout that Rolling Stone recently included as one of its “10 Best Country and Americana Songs of the Week.”
Puryear brings the jam to the table with the deep-funk groove of “Heaven and the Earth,” and keeps the positive vibes flowing on Zydeco-flavored “The Good Stuff.” And Nevins’ “Top Shelf” is another highlight, with buoyant roots pop that is classic Donna the Buffalo. Ditto her buoyant ditty “I Won’t Be Looking Back,” which bursts with female energy.
“We feel the album provides an enjoyable ride between the general and the personal, from both male and female perspectives,” says Puryear.
“We have certainly tried to make a difference in the world, trying to inspire ourselves and others to treat their lives as a work of art. And at the same time, we’re having a blast. Who wouldn’t want to ride around on a bus playing music with their friends?”