For today’s active touring musician nothing beats a pair of coveralls for crawling around grimy stages setting up gear. Jeb Puryear knows good coveralls when he sees them. The founding member of Donna the Buffalo is often zipping them up when his tour vehicle breaks down.
“We bought our own tour bus early on,” Puryear says as one mechanic of a few who have repaired Donna's vehicles since the beginning. “We were fortunate as a group to be mechanically inclined enough to keep one going.”
For most independent bands, where there is no financier or new deluxe tour coach, band members perform what grunt work they can do for themselves. If anything Donna the Buffalo is a study in self-sufficiency.
Ever popular rock-based zydeco/fiddle outfit Donna the Buffalo brings their unique presentation of music, dance, and social consciousness to the Intersection on Saturday, April 16.
Donna either makes their own records or works with small independent labels like Sugarhill. Puryear admits they’ve "done things in not-so-normal fashion." Call it a lifestyle choice if you will.
“There were no Colonel Parker’s (Elvis Presley manager) here,” Puryear said with a laugh. “Nobody saw us and perceived they could make millions of dollars. But we’ve always been able to make a living and have successful artistic experiences with audiences. For that we are grateful.”
Donna the Buffalo is 26 years into producing their own Finger Lakes and Shakori Hills GrassRoots music events. These festivals take cues from pioneering folk-life celebrations Blissfest and Wheatland in Michigan.
“The definition of a festival is shifting with Coachella calling itself a festival,” Puryear said. “To me they’re more like giant rock concerts in a way.”
For better or worse Puryear’s festival idea has come a long way from the 3-day weekend camping excursion with an emphasis on live roots music. Original organizers probably never imagined a lap top computer would headline the coveted Saturday night slot.
“The organizers of Bonaroo saw our kind of festival as doing well so they said we’re going to make a mega-festival,” Puryear said. “They succeeded in intimating that and now you have massive events like Electric Forrest.”
Women like men who can fix things. They almost always love a man who plays guitar. Puryear not only wields a mean guitar and fiddle but his game with a wrench and ¾ inch socket is strong. He continues this journey because he cherishes his role as a performer in creating an opportunity for all people to be part of something larger than themselves.
“The feeling is hard to describe sometimes,” Puryear said. “But a show is still about this one thing where the music is really happening and anybody who is there, or within listening distance, can be a part of it. That’s the most amazing thing.”
Donna the Buffalo wsg Big Dudee Roo April 16 at The Intersection
The Venue: sectionlive.com
The Herd: donnathebuffalo.com