Donna the Buffalo
January 6, 2012
Revolution, Fort Lauderdale
Revolution wasn't packed for Friday's Donna the Buffalo show, suggesting that Jam Cruisers are still filtering into South Florida. The extra space in the club made for a very relaxed and enjoyable scene as the band performed as well as they ever have according to some dedicated fans: "Full steam ahead," in the words of local scene elder Jah Mark.
Donna's groove is infectious, hypnotic and wholesome, subtly incorporating trance, reggae, and pop qualities into a sound which is Americana first and foremost. It is rootsy music offered by deep, sensitive players. At times they could be described as Mazzy Star, sped up and minus the echo, with an emphasis on allowing grooves to develop, peak, and come to rest.
Singer and multi-instrumentalist Tara Nevins has the presence of an Americana shaman. Whether she is zoning with the tambourine, violin, washboard, accordion, guitar, or singing, she is visibly tapping into mystical energy, and inviting all those willing into that vast space. Ditto guitarist Jeb Puryear, whose eyes roll involuntarily into the back of his head while the rest of his body surrenders as well--possessed by the groove with jaw agape.
The band was locked in from start to finish Friday night while delivering their sweetly melodic songs and jamming extensively. The crowd was locked in as well. The audience was equal parts bluegrass, Grateful Dead, and reggae people -- all friendly spirits. It is no wonder why this band has such a dedicated following. There is no other band that this writer has come across that does quite what they do. And they do it with a humble confidence and great joy.
The night opened joyously as well as local Grateful Dead tribute band Crazy Fingers played an energized set. The line-up of this band is ever-changing. Friday, only one member from the core group who used to rock Fisherman's Wharf back in the day was on stage. Though I was disappointed at first by the absence of the characters I once enjoyed getting down with, it didn't take long for this incarnation to wipe that feeling away. They sounded great. The most exciting new feature was the bassist, and the only iffy aspect was guitar number two, whose leads would have been more at home in a Bon Jovi cover band.
The Crowd: Mellow spirits, roaming as one like a herd of hippie buffalo.
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Random Detail: Many were excited by the band's performance of the Occupy Wall Street inspired song "Be the Change." Jah Mark was heard shouting "We're going to occupy the world!"
By the Way: I think that Crazy Fingers needs a weekly, downtown Lauderdale gig.