Donna the Buffalo continues to roam, and ‘The Herd’ couldn’t be happier

Working on plumbing doesn’t sound relaxing but it’s soothing for guitarist Jeb Puryear before he hits the road with his group, Donna the Buffalo.

“I’m working on some radiators and it feels good to me,” Puryear says while calling from his Trumansburg, N.Y., home. “We’ve been working so hard on the band this year. I love all that we do with the band but dealing with my radiator takes me away from our group, just before we hit the road again.”

Last year was a busy one for Donna the Buffalo. “Dance in the Street,” the band’s first album since 2013’s “Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday,” dropped in November. The latest from the veteran jam band is an amalgam of country, bluegrass, folk and zydeco.

“Our fans expect us to mix it up,” Puryear says. “That’s what we did with this album. We recorded the majority of ‘Dance in the Street’ live. We did few overdubs. We’re comfortable with that. We don’t need much help with technology. We just come into the studio and do our thing. We make our style of music.”

Puryear believes his group’s approach is perfect for the Triangle.

“I know what people in Raleigh like, and it’s diversity, and that’s what we present,” Puryear says. “They also like old-timey music. North Carolina is all about grassroots music. Look at how well Shakori Hills does.”

Puryear and his brother, Jordan Puryear, who is a former member of Donna the Buffalo, started the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival in 1991. The Shakori Hills festival in Pittsboro, which commenced in 2003, is a spinoff of that fest.

“The Shakori Hills Festival is always great,” Puryear says. “The lineups are always solid and there is a great base for such an event. Grassroots music and Raleigh go together, so we always look forward to returning since there is an audience there for us.”

Donna the Buffalo, which also includes vocalist-guitarist-fiddler-washboard player Tara Nevins, keyboardist David McCracken, bassist Kyle Spark and drummer Mark Raudabaugh, will return Jan. 4 to the Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw.

“We’ll be showcasing songs from the new album but we also have plenty of other material to draw from,” Puryear says.

There are nine other albums that Donna the Buffalo can tap when the act hits the stage.

“That’s what happens when you’re in a band as long as we’ve been around,” Puryear says. “I haven’t just been working on radiators. We’ve spent a lot of time writing and in the studio over the years.”

It’s been 30 years since Donna the Buffalo formed in upstate New York. How will Donna the Buffalo mark its anniversary?

“By performing,” Puryear says. “We’ll do what we normally do. We love what we do or we wouldn’t be around for all of these years.”

Donna the Buffalo has accomplished a great deal without much airplay or press. “We’ve done it all in an organic manner,” Puryear says. “We did it on our own when we started.”

When Donna the Buffalo formed, major labels were powerful but now it’s more of a DIY era. “We fit right in with how things are now,” Puryear says. “All that matters is we can continue making and playing music. Fortunately there is an audience for us.”

Donna the Buffalo fans are known as “The Herd.” “We appreciate all of their support,” Puryear says. “As long as they come out, we’ll continue.”


Who: Donna the Buffalo with Western Centuries

When: 8 p.m. Jan. 4

Where: Haw River Ballroom, 1711 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Road, Saxapahaw

Tickets: $20 to $22

Info: 336-525-2314 or hawriverballroom.com