For over twenty-five years, Donna The Buffalo has toured the nation with their "ever evolving grassroots sound" that blends rock, cajun, folk, reggae and more. The band, comprised of Jeb Puryear (vocals, electric guitar), Tara Nevins (vocals, guitar, fiddle, accordion, scrubboard), David McCracken (Hammond organ, Honer Clavinet & piano), Kyle Spark (bass) and Mark Raudabaugh (drums), promotes a feeling of community through their music and among their fans, known as "The Herd." In the third of a series featuring some of the artists performing in October at Magnolia Fest at the Spirit of The Suwannee Music Park, Tara Nevins took the time to speak about being a mainstay at the Fest, The Stampede Tour and more.
Once again, you will be performing at Magnolia Fest in October. Have you played all nineteen years and what keeps you coming back?
We have actually. It’s a very beautiful spot with live oak trees, Spanish moss, and palmetto trees. There are a few festivals that are just great and this is one of those. We know everyone really well and have made great friends there. The festival is family oriented, there’s great music and it’s a really wonderful, music loving audience. We look forward to it every year.
Will you be closing out the festival as you have done in the past?
I haven’t looked at the schedule yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we do—it’s a tradition every year. There are people who have not gone home yet and stick around to see what might happen and who might come on stage to play, which is always a fun part of the finale. It’s one of the highlights of the festival and we have had some amazing moments doing it.
Prior to Magnolia Fest you will be playing at The Barn (Levon Helm Studios) which I imagine to be an incredibly special moment in anyone’s musical career.
I recorded my most recent solo record [Wood and Stone] there. Levon's band leader, Larry Campbell, produced it and Levon played on a few tracks. I feel incredibly fortunate to have met and known him, even for just a little bit. I got to do a ramble when my record came out, which was very much a highlight of my musical journey. It is exciting to be going back there with Donna The Buffalo. It’s a hallowed hall, a beautiful, special place; Levon will be there in spirit. NB Donna The Buffalo played at The Barn September 4th, for photos visit here.
This fall Donna The Buffalo will be touring with Peter Rowan and Ben Cohen on The Stampede Tour which focuses on raising awareness of the inappropriate use of corporate money in politics. It uses a simple and effective tactic of rubber stamping messages on paper currency as a demonstration of public demand and outrage.
How did you connect with Ben and Peter to do this tour and why is this cause important to you?
We saw Ben do a presentation on the campaign [StampStampede] at a grassroots festival in Miami and got to speak with him about it. It's a wonderful cause and we thought that since it is called the Stampede and we’re Donna The Buffalo, it just made sense. We always like to have someone on tour with us and we immediately thought of Peter and invited him.
We’re not overly political, but something like this, at this time, with the election coming up, just feels perfect. It's a great thing to be a part of. Music is a wonderful medium; it’s the universal language and has been an instrumental part of social change at different times. This is a very awesome way to speak socially to help things get better. Millionaires and corporations are allowed to write checks for people who run for office and it diminishes our voice. All of a sudden it’s their voice and they’re entitled to ask for favors. It’s not very democratic and it leaves out the general public's voice…and money should not be speech. This [campaign] is using money to get money out of politics. It’s a cool idea having money be the free billboard to spread the movement. The more people stamp the money, the more it gets out in circulation, and the more the message spreads. It’s an easy, legal, positive and productive thing to do that gives people a voice in a neat way.
So, what’s ahead for you after the tour, will you take some time off?
We take several weeks off in February and March, but other than that we are always out. We started a new record, but have not had a lot of time to get back to it; it’s in the works.
For more information on Magnolia Fest visit the official website.
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For more information on Donna The Buffalo visit their official website
Find them on Facebook and Twitter