The tambourine rang out and the accordion pumped breath into Donna the Buffalo‘s return to The Orange Peel on Saturday, Jan. 18. When Tara Nevins, the accordion squeezing-fiddle bowing-guitar strumming-vocalist strapped on her washboard armor, she became the instrument, rapping out the rhythm on her metal rib cage.
DTB has always been a band that plays for a greater purpose. Woven into its music are themes of personal and community transformation that point towards greater peace and harmony. At the show last weekend, the group played songs from its most recent album, Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday, that continued reminding the audience to love (in the spirit of equality, fairness, and honesty). These are not new themes for the band’s members, though they keep the presentation fresh. In the classic “No Place Like the Right Time” listeners are assured, “You give to the world, you give to yourself, when you’re giving your best to somebody else.” This is the message that started my own love affair with the band almost a decade ago.
Looking around at The Orange Peel crowd, I saw all ages swaying and shaking and shimmying to the sound. Many were crooning along with closed eyes. One of the newer releases, “We’re Working on That,” reminds listeners that, “No matter the shade of your skin or the shape of your hat,” are on a journey everyday, and that “Conscious Evolution.” DTB belted out a familiar line from that track: “We’re all busy learning on a learning curve,” recognizing that we’re all beginners every day. Maybe some days we feel more green than others, but none of us have done this life thing before.
The classic sound that David McCracken brings to the keys, leading the tunes with high sing-song notes, made it hard not to smile at the start of each song. Nevins’ partner in songwriting and vocals, Jeb Puryear, brought on more smiles, introducing the bass solos from Kyle Spark and urging drummer Mark Raudabaugh to “play it like you like!”
At the end of the band’s three-song encore, Nevins blew kisses to the crowd in her sincere and steadfast manner. The whole show felt like a big high-five affirmative that life is something to celebrate.
DTB is stampeding at full steam and gaining ground. The group continues to pluck heartstrings with new lyrics and rock souls with the old. For a band that’s always been “living on love and gasoline,” they’re getting great mileage and putting out nothing but sweet emissions.
Photo by Erin Scholze, from ashevillejams.com.