7/25/09 Floydfest, Floyd, VA

It's a New Day, Beauty Within, 40 Days & 40 Nights, Mystic Water, Locket and Key, Family Picture, It's Love Time, Blue Sky, Tides of Time, Ding Dang Dong, Funky Side
Encore: New Tara Zydeco, Hot Tamale Baby*

*Christian Dugas (The Duhks) on scrubboard

View photos of this show

By Paul Roberge

The Floydfest program portrays Donna the Buffalo as "one of the most beloved Floydfest performers." If the ubiquity of DtB t-shirts, widespread familiarity with the DtB canon, and enthusiastic reception are reliable indicators, this is a true statement.

In an undergraduate English class, taken a long, long time ago, I learned about a literary mechanism called the "objective correlative" (developed by T.S. Elliot), which involves the mediation of emotion through external factors. Shortly before 5 pm, the storm clouds approached, and the air turned cool, with a breeze that augured rain...and lots of it. As the band launched into 40 Days & 40 Nights, "it rained and rained like cats and dogs." The weather report for 7/25 indicated no rain in the forecast, and the sudden storm caught most of us by surprise. The next song, Mystic Water, correlated perfectly with the prevailing external conditions. The high roof over the Dreaming Creek Stage afforded the performers and their instruments little in the way of shelter, and exposure of the electrical equipment to water required the switching out of the organ console, the keyboard amplifier, and Jeb's amplifier with units (I presume) lent by other bands. After giving the festival grounds a good soaking, the storm passed, and the skies cleared.

During Blue Sky (another fitting choice, given the external factors), the most remarkable thing happened: A lovely rainbow formed over the Dreaming Creek Stage. I was just far enough away to get the full effect of the rainbow parked over the entire stage. (My daughter got a photo of the band from the rail, with the rainbow in the background.) The rainbow dissipated quickly, but it was one of those fleeting moments that stays with you. The show concluded with a blistering Hot Tamale Baby. Tara stated that next year, a two-night booking for Donna the Buffalo would be desirable. One could hardly agree more.

Random notes: This was our first Floydfest (in years past, I have been overseas between mid or late July and mid August), and we enjoyed it very much. The ethos of "the show must go on" is strong indeed. Donna the Buffalo put on a fine show despite the rain and electrical problems it caused. Kudos to the Floydfest crew, who worked quickly to switch equipment and whom Jeb thanked "for giving us some new gear." On Friday evening, electric power went out on the Streamline Stage Hill Holler, just as Toubab Krewe (another of our favorite bands) was opening its set. The band made a nearly seamless transition to percussion instruments and offered a creditable jam. At its conclusion, they took a break and performed an acoustic set, let by Earl "Chinna" Smith (from Jamaica) which though unamplified, worked rather well.

I cannot praise the Belleville Outfit highly enough. My daughter and I have seen them perform several times since they made their debut at Shakori in October of last year. They are really hitting their stride as performers and songwriters. Phoebe Hunt is just delightful on stage. I strongly suspect that Donna the Buffalo must have impressed people in a similar way when they first started out.

Leaving the festival grounds on the shuttle bus to the satellite parking lot yesterday evening , I caught a glimpse of the festival grounds from high on the ridge. It looked like a small, lit-up city as viewed from an aircraft making its landing approach. When I looked in the opposite direction, I saw the crescent moon, setting into the mountains against a blue-black sky and marking a sweet conclusion of our first Floydfest.

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