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10/13/06 Mexicali Blues Cafe, Teaneck, NJ
Way Back When, Living in Babylon, Positive Friction, Blue Sky, These Are Better Days, Tides of Time, Hey Trudy, If You Were To Love Me, 40 Days & 40 Nights, Locket and Key, Family Picture, Seems To Want To Hurt This Time, No Place Like The Right Time, America, I Don't Need A Riddle, Hot Tamale Baby, If You Only Could, Ring of Fire
Encore: Mystic Water*
*First verse just Jeb. Then Jeb & Tara. Then Jeb, Tara, Bill & Kathy. Then all.
By Jeff Bauer
I'd wanted Donna the Buffalo to play Mexicali's, my "local" venue, since I first heard the band in 2002. On Friday the 13th I got my wish, and judging from the size of the crowd, I won't be surprised if DtB someday returns to beautiful Teaneck, NJ.
I snuck up to the front and found some friends at their usual spot on the rail just as the band launched into Way Back When. After they finished, I shouted out "Welcome to Jersey" and Jeb made a few remarks about how great it was to play NJ that didn't convince anyone. I recognized the opening notes of Living In Babylon next, and that's when I first noticed that Tara seemed to be particularly happy and energetic. As goes Tara, so goes the band, so I knew we were in for an especially good night.
It was Jeb's turn next and he chose Positive Friction. I had a spot with enough room to dance, I could see all of the band to shoot photos, and the sound was excellent. Life was good.
Tara fired up Blue Sky after that, and the place went berserk. High on love, yes we were. I couldn't exactly see the entire crowd from this vantage point, but it sure seemed like everybody was both dancing and singing along.
I floated around a bit for the next three songs: These Are Better Days, Tides of Time, and Hey Trudy. It's always interesting to me to see how different people have different ways of enjoying Donna the Buffalo's shows. I was near the back when they started the Jeb ballad If You Were to Love Me. Though the band has played it a bunch of times since it debuted back in Feb, this was the first time I'd caught it.
The back was a good spot to be for 40 Days & 40 Nights because it gave me the room to dance uninterrupted. This was a long, jammy version, and my ears grabbed a few little bits of Kathy Z on keys that I don't recall hearing before. After Locket and Key, the band started into Family Picture, and the crowd's energy level again got twisted up to 11.
The highlight of the night for me came next: Seems to Want to Hurt This Time. I thought DtB would never play that song with as much emotion as they did during the "post election day show" in Johnson City, NY in November 2004, but I was wrong. This song swung back and forth between gentle and quiet to raging to soft and back again. Tara was beaming big smiles as she did her thing on that fiddle, swaying back and forth so vigorously that I thought she just might fall over. She didn't. The next song was No Place Like the Right Time, and I couldn't for the life of me tell you how it sounded-after Seems to Want, I needed a full song to recoup.
The band obviously didn't. After No Place, Tara said "we're going to play this next song by request for my sister-in-law, Michelle. If she's still here." The song was America, and Michelle was still there, sitting several feet behind me. I Don't Need a Riddle was next.
Then Hot Tamale Baby, which apparently was all the rage at Shakori. Tara switched from accordion to fiddle to accordion flawlessly. By the time they finished this song, I was a danced-out, sweaty mess. The two songs that ended the set, If You Only Could and Ring of Fire, were also by request.
When the band came back out for the encore, it was Jeb alone. He said "We had a request for this" and started playing Mystic Water. I was pleased but also a little surprised when he finished the first verse still by himself, as that song kinda relies on Tara's fiddle.
She did come out, and the two of them did it as a duet for a while, still on the mellow side. Then Bill and Kathy Z came out, and very seamlessly worked themselves into the song, building it bit by bit. Finally Tom came onstage, and when he first smashed into it, the tension had built so strong that Mexicali's damn near exploded. It was a quintessential Donna the Buffalo moment.