Wife knows best: More there than you think

Donna The Buffalo
at Starr Hill Music Hall
November 21

Ever since my wife and I first began dating she has been trying to get me into the music of Donna The Buffalo. She would play their CD, The Ones You Love, around the house singing along at the top of her lungs. But for some reason I never really found myself all that excited about it. I guess it's because I have never really been into the Zydeco fusion thing, plus the lyrics always seemed too earthy-tree-huggerish for me.

When she finally managed to drag me to one of their performance about a year and a half ago, I have to admit that I did enjoy myself. Not as much as she did, though.

So, when Donna the Buffalo made their way back around to Charlottesville on their very intense touring schedule, there was no stopping wifey from wanting to go to the show. This time around I got a different vibe from the performance. There had to be a reason that my wife liked this group so much. Something told me to take a closer look around the room as it filled with people of every age, shape, size and sex. I began to sense that group's appeal was much broader than I had suspected.

From the first notes of the country-tinged Zydeco-bluegrass-folk collage that is their distinct sound, I could feel the intensity rising in the room. The band went from one song into the next without addressing the audience much in between.

Each new song they played brought a new chorus from the audience, as nearly half the people in the room joined in to sing along. They all seemed to know all the words. The more people sang, the more I listened. For the first time I realized that this was much more than earthy-tree-huggerish music. Underneath that lies intense social commentary and satire on the state of the country and the politicians who run it.

That's what the crowd latched on to. The band drew hoots and hollers from the audience as they sang songs poking fun at blind American pride and unchecked capitalism. Donna the Buffalo are not just musicians– they are social activists who are speaking to youth as well as adults. As the words sank in, so did the music.

For the first time I understood why my beautiful wife wanted me to really listen to such beautiful music.