Words by Corinne Casella
Despite the rain, City Winery was packed May 13th for an intimate performance from festival darlings, Donna the Buffalo. Weather not withstanding, the Herd, as their fans are affectionately known, were out in solid numbers to hear their favorite mix of Americana, bluegrass and Zydeco. Bandleaders Jeb Puryear and Tara Nevins, working together since 1989, have a well-honed chemistry and the vibe on stage was a familial one. Between trading witty banter to intuitive jams, the band worked as one seamless entity. Rounding out the roster was bassist Kyle Spark, drummer Mark Raudabaugh and David McCracken on electric keys/organ. A talented multi-instrumentalist in her own right, Nevins switched off effortlessly between the acoustic guitar, fiddle, accordion, washboard, and tambourine.
Starting off the night strong with ‘In This Life’ and ‘Zydeco Drift,’ they quickly had the audience tapping their feet and dancing between tables. ’40 days & 40 Nights’ was nothing short of incendiary, with Nevins playing the fiddle with such gusto, one half expected the strings to start smoking with the exertion. Other highlights included an ebullient ‘Funkyside,’ with Nevins, Puryear and Spark singing in perfect three-part harmony.
Riding that high, the group seamlessly transitioned into a rollicking ‘Family Picture,’ punctuated with tight organic grooves. An expansive and ethereal rendition of ‘Seems to Wanna,’ ended the set. The band came back for a two song encore, the first with Puryear and Nevins flying solo for ‘I Believe,’ with the whole band joining in on show closer ‘Heaven & Earth.’
Catch Donna The Buffalo on the road all year long. See tour dates here…
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