Buffalo in the Sky

By Derek Halsey (reporter@mountaintimes.com)

Article Published: Sep. 5, 2013 | Modified: Sep. 9, 2013
Buffalo in the Sky

Donna the Buffalo will perform Sept. 8 at the inaugural Mile High Music Fest at Beech Mountain.

Photo by Bill Davis

Beech Mountain’s raising the volume high — literally.

On Sunday, Sept. 8, the inaugural Mile High Music Festival will take place at Beech Mountain Resort.

The lineup will include country music star Randy Houser, who has had two No. 1 singles in 2013 with “How Country Feels” and “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight,” the Sons of Bluegrass, the only professional bluegrass band made up entirely of Eastern Tennessee State University’s bluegrass, old-time and country music studies alumni, and MerleFest favorites Donna the Buffalo.

The music begins at 5 p.m.

Donna the Buffalo released its first studio album in five years in 2013. Called “Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday,” the recording is full of the group’s signature roots music, original songs and irresistible dance grooves. The band is based in upstate New York, yet it has become a perennial act here in North Carolina, with appearances at MerleFest in Wilkesboro, the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival in Silk Hope and other venues.

Donna the Buffalo is made up of multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Tara Nevins, guitarist and songwriter Jeb Puryear, keyboardist David McCracken, Mark Raudabaugh on drums and Kyle Spark on bass.

“(The recording process) is different with every record, but for this album it was pretty laid back,” Nevins said about the new album. “We set up our studio equipment in a church that a friend had bought. We had Robert Hunter, who engineered the record, to come over, and he recorded it as we all sat around in a circle and played live together. Then, it was mixed right there in the church. It was a cohesive project. Our last album, ‘Silverlined,’ was recorded in Nashville, some of it in New York City, some in Asheville, N.C., and some of it upstate New York, and it was mixed in California. So, every record has its own journey, and this one was kind of hometown and laid back a little bit.”

Other than one slower cut on “Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday,” the rest of the album chugs along with danceable songs intent on exuding optimism and putting people in a happy state of mind.

“When Jeb writes songs and I write and you bring the songs together, you never know what kind of picture it’s going to paint,” Nevins said. “And, I think on this album, the songs do flow nicely together. Music as the universal language, which it truly is, it speaks to people on many different levels, and it is nice to be spoken to in a lot of different ways. I think that laying down a feel-good groove and having a positive message brings people together and creates an infectious, positive vibe.”

Donna the Buffalo can best be described as diverse, mixing together genres, such as Cajun music, hints of reggae, a dose of bluegrass and old time influences, with a jam-band sensibility. They have become regular performers at MerleFest.

“We started playing there many years ago, and we seem to have become a part of the MerleFest family,” Nevins said. “MerleFest is a wonderful festival and very diverse. It’s a real Americana festival, with everything from old-time to straight country to rock to singer-songwriter to Cajun and zydeco — you name it. And we just seem to fit in there, as we are very much an Americana band, and we have a lot of those influences in our music. The Dance Tent jam is always a big time. It’s a lot of fun. It’s always packed, and people look forward to it. It’s a let-go, let-loose kind of show, and it’s always late on a Friday or Saturday night, and it is a big ol’ throwdown.”

Fans can expect a musical throwdown up on Beech this Sunday, Sept. 8. Tickets for the Mile High Music Fest cost $30 in advance and $35 at the gate and are available online at

Beech Mountain Resort is located at 1007 Beech Mountain Parkway in Beech Mountain. For more information, including directions, visit http://www.beechmtnchamber.com or call (828) 387-9283.

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