11/20/09 Emelin Theatre, Mamaroneck, NY

Way Back When, Beauty Within, Positive Friction, Tides Of Time, Garden Of Eden, Silverlined, Blue Sky, Rockin Horse, Funkyside, Hot Tamale Baby, If You Only Could, It's Love Time,* Locket & Key, Family Picture, One Drop Of Rain, Why You Wanna Leave Me Baby, Everything Seems To Want To Hurt, No Place Like The Right Time
Encore: Ding Dang Dong, Love & Gasoline

*Jeb on Kent guitar

By Jeff Bauer

Seeing Donna the Buffalo in a theater setting is a very different experience from seeing them in a club or at a festival. While theater shows mean you have to deal with fixed seats, sometimes limited dancing space, and the occasional cranky usher, the setting typically does have its advantages: superior sound, a quieter, less drunk crowd, and the tendency of the band to put forth its very best efforts. All of these factors combined on Friday, 11/20/09 to make DtB show at the Emelin Theater in Mamaroneck, NY an exceptionally good time.

I got to the theater a little after 7:30, touched base with Jordy at the door and then headed to our seats. The Emelin is a fairly small theater with maybe 20 rows total from stage to the back of the theater, plus a very small "balcony" that amounts to a raised platform with a few more rows of seats. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the theater was basically full except for the balcony.

The band came on at 8:20 and in customary fashion rolled right into Way Back When. Right away I noticed that the sound was phenomenal; from the opening song I could hear each instrument clearly. Things weren't quite as immediately perfect for the band--Tara, David and Jeb all requested that they be turned up or down a bit in the onstage monitors--but after a few minutes it was pure heaven.

Adding to the aural enjoyment was a decided lack of audience yapping. It was dead quiet between songs--uncomfortably quiet, at some points. Jeb commented early on about how the band enjoys the theater shows because "it's nice to play when people are listening carefully. At least we hope you're listening." This comment was met with a roar of approval from the crowd. At several points, Jeb also confessed that he was unable to properly pronounce "Mamaroneck."

After WBW came Beauty Within, Positive Friction, Tides Of Time, all of which were met with great enthusiasm. Given the venue I was expecting that perhaps many people would be experiencing Donna for the first time, but this didn't seem to be the case. I was also expecting most people to remain firmly seated throughout the night and was wrong about that, too. There was a solid percentage of sitters, but there also was much dancing on the sides and in the back. Just not directly in front of the stage--except for David Grace. The Emelin staff seemed a little perplexed by a band with such "enthusiastic" fans but mostly appeared to go with the flow.

Next they played Garden of Eden and, after some discussion as to what actually was the "title track" to their latest CD, Silverlined. I was texting the setlist as it happened to the DonnaFans twitter page at I had planned to post a few photos as well, but for some strange reason the venue staff had a problem with people taking photos, so I managed to sneak off just a few stealth shots of marginal quality.

At one point Tara mentioned that she had left her scrubboard tools in Louisiana. I thought that meant we wouldn't get to hear her on that instrument. A short while later, both a fan and Jordy brought what I assume were spoons to Tara onstage. After Blue Sky, Rockin Horse, and Funkyside, the band started Hot Tamale Baby, and sure enough, Tara picked up her scrub and played it with the "borrowed" tools.

If You Only Could was the biggest surprise for me--instead of wrapping this song up at the usual point, the band went into a sweet improvisational jam that was highlighted by David McCracken's beautiful work on keys. Next Jeb plugged in his Ken guitar for It's Love Time. After Tara's Locket & Key, they played the always-crowd-pleasing Family Picture. One Drop Of Rain was also unexpected--according to they hadn't played this since 11/15/06. I suspect they've performed this song more recently than that, but the tune certainly is uncommon. A very long, jammed-out Why You Wanna Leave Me Baby came next, and again Tara played on scrub. After Everything Seems To Want To Hurt, the band played No Place Like The Right Time by request to end the set.

After a brief break, the full band came back out for a two-song encore: Ding Dang Dong, and then Love & Gasoline by request. Just before the encore, I found and introduced myself to John Platt's brother, Waddy, who was seeing the band for the first time and clearly had enjoyed himself immensely. The show ended at 10:45, and I'm sure that like me, everyone else in attendence went home happier than when they'd arrived.

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