The buzz about Buzby: Jam-band epics make fans happy

By Mark Grabowski

Let me say this first: people like Buzby. A lot of people. I can’t really say I am one of them, but I understand that they are making music that many, many people enjoy, and therefore they more than deserve space in our illustrious publication.
And who says I am the great bastion of musical taste in Charlottesville anyway? I mean, I love the Beach Boys, not the coolest band in the world, and I once went through an Industrial phase that I am not proud of (Nine Inch Nails to Ministry). Everybody likes different kinds of music, and although some are clearly superior to others– i.e. classical music vs. rap-metal– most are roughly equally venerable.
Buzby are a jam-band of sorts, and one of the better ones that I’ve heard. They play mostly exuberant good-time music, well suited for wasting away a day at an outdoor festival, beer in hand, “chillin’” with some “homies.”
Buzby’s founding member and principal songwriter is the amiable Brenton Hund, guitarist and vocalist extraordinaire. Born in Charlottesville, Hund played in a number of locally successful bands before he, as Buzby’s web site humorously puts it ( HYPERLINK, “took his UVA economics degree, Phi Beta Kappa scholastic distinction, and caution, and threw them all to the wind setting out on his own path to form a serious new band ‘capable of hitting the national scene.’”
The current Buzby lineup also includes Steve Norfleet (sax), Eric Lawson (keys), Derek Bond (bass), Brian Caputo (drums).
The group’s songs oscillate between full-out jam-band epics like “Trash” (a song demoed for their newest album), to the slower ballads (“Come Away,” another demo track). I personally think the latter do Buzby more justice– they allow the band to showcase more of its talents– vocal harmony, sweet melodies, and interesting instrumental passages. It is also on these slower tracks that the band seems to come into its own, shedding the jam-band ghost of DMB for a slightly folky but still catchy relaxed sound.
“Sweat,” the last track from the demo, impressed me most. Only a little jammy, this mid-tempo rocker leaves out many of the instrumental passages endemic to jam-rock and focuses instead on good songwriting and a clever melody. Guitar, organ, and sax combine with strong harmonies and a slightly funky drum beat and actually brought a smile to my overly cynical mug.
Summing up: good band, not my type of music, but fit to be enjoyed by many. You like funky, melodic, jam-rock played by talented individuals? Check out Buzby. Need I say more?

Buzby performs at Outback Lodge, May 25. $6, 10pm.

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