Who is Donna the Buffalo, and why does she keep following me?

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9/14/02, State Theater, Ithaca, NY

Setlist (courtesy donnabase.com)
Way Back When, No Place Like the Right Time, Funkyside, Tides of Time, Positive Friction, When Love Comes Around, 40 Days & 40 Nights, Hamilton Club,* Who Stole My Chicken,* Riddle of the Universe,* I Don't Need A Riddle,* Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down*
Encore: Family Picture, In the Middle Distance
*Jeb on pedal steel

A benefit for Jeb's former school
Getting a taste of what Donna the Buffalo was about during two festival sets earlier this summer led me to think it would be a good idea to drive up to Ithaca to see the band perform near their hometown. This show at the State Theater was a benefit for a school Jeb had attended but apparently not graduated, and he was awarded an honorary diploma as part of the festivities.

By this time I was on the Herd mailing list and so I posted that I was going to this show solo and would be interested in meeting up with anyone else who was on the list who was going to be there. Always a gentleman, Tom Clausen emailed me and we met for coffee before the show and then hung out together for the first several acts, during which he gave me a crash course in the Ithaca music scene. I am not quite certain who played that night, but it was probably Amy Glicklich, Oculus, and Sim Redmond, who I think played minus the Sim Redmond band this night. Then came the honorary diploma for Jeb. The whole night had a very everybody-knows-everybody-else kind of feel, entirely expected considering it was a benefit for a local organization.

Finally Donna came on and I slinked up the side of the aisle and found some room to dance. All of the songs were still fairly new to me at this point, and I was enjoying each one. I had been hoping for 40 Days and 40 Nights, and the intensity peaked during this jam, as the band seemed to actually levitate a few feet off the ground for a couple of seconds.

Then came the pedal steel and the Hamilton Club, which was a pleasant surprise to me because a) I had never heard that song before, and b) despite having been lucky enough to have obtained a few live shows on CD, I was not aware that Jeb played pedal steel. Haven't been lucky enough to have seen him play it since, by the way.

He stayed on pedal steel for the rest of the set, which seemed way too short. Who Stole My Chicken was goofy fun, but Riddle of the Universe was beautiful, a perfect use of that instrument. I Don't Need A Riddle was next, and I haven't heard the band perform this song since. Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down closed the set.

Family Picture was a good choice of encore; little did I know then that this song is in heavy rotation. To be honest, I don't really remember In the Middle Distance.

So just like that it was over, but I decided on that night that Donna the Buffalo was most certainly a band worth traveling many miles to see, and thus started a pattern of me scanning the tour dates to figure out which shows where within striking distance (that'd be about a two-hour drive for a weeknight, considerably longer for a weekend, especially if multiple shows were involved) and adjusting my plan accordingly.

A few weeks later, someone hooked me up with a copy of this show, and it was a perfect Tim Andersen soundboard recording, one of my favorites that I've passed on to many a friend as a way of introducing them to Donna the Buffalo.

Words © 2004 www.donnafans.com. Photos © 2004 Brian Reid. All rights reserved.
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