Texas southern soul/Americana band The Buffalo Ruckus took its first “boot-stomping rhythms, howling vocals, and spear-in-the-back guitar leads” in 2013 towards their overall objective: Spread the Ruckus. The next year, they released their debut self-titled album and won both the Shiner Rising Star and the Texas Music Showdown. Since then, they have performed on the nationally syndicated Troubadour, TX television show, at Billy Bob’s and the House of Blues, plus a number of music festivals including The Larry Joe Taylor, Tommy Alverson’s Family Gathering, the 2015 Billy Bob’s 4th of July Picnic, Texas Music Revolution and the Wild Flower Festival.
The band members are Jason Lovell – vocals, guitar, Brad Haefner – guitar, mandolin, Michael Burgess – bass, and Jerrod Ford – percussion. They’ve opened for Foghat, Cheap Trick, American Aquarium, The Dirty River Boys, Ryan Bingham, Merle Haggard, and The Turnpike Troubadours. Their current album, Peace & Cornbread, has placed five singles on the Texas Regional Radio Chart since its release last year. The album itself charted #56 on the Americana Music Chart.
(We interviewed Lovell for this article.)
How did the band come together? What music did you each listen to growing up?
“My wife and I moved to Texas from Chattanooga, TN in May 2013. I was in the process of trying to put a band together and Brad Haefner came to jam one night. He mentioned that he had gigs booked for a band with no singer called The Buffalo Ruckus. I was all in. As far as musical influences go, I can really only speak for myself… Guns-N-Roses, Zeppelin, Grateful Dead.
Describe the experiences of being on the Texas Music Showdown and the Shiner Rising Star competitions.
“Both were great tools to kick start our band. It was free advertising on the radio. Our name was being said on KHYI 20 times a day for weeks. That was great. We also made lots of new friends in the scene; artists, DJs, promoters, and the like. The downside was the stress of competition. And not a typical competition. We were competing with our art and art is judged on perception. If someone doesn’t like your art it’s a tough pill to swallow. Sometimes it felt like a popularity contest too. Overall it was great to jump start our career in the scene, but I’d like to never go through a music contest again.”
The band’s current tour has them on the road throughout Texas, Wyoming, Colorado, Washington, and South Dakota.
Favorite venues to perform at in Texas and elsewhere?
“Love playing Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth. House of Blues is always cool. Dosey Doe Big Barn down in Houston is one of my favorites. Great sounding room. Live from the Divide in Bozeman, MT was really memorable. Filthy McNasty’s in Fort Worth will always remind me of our start. It’s our home honkatonk.”
Produced by Jonathan Tyler, Peace & Cornbread blends the mandolin, harmonica, acoustic and electric guitars, piano, drums and bass into what has been called “a true slice of Texas and Americana music.” The Denton, Texas-based band mixes genres with well-crafted melodies. The band’s musical influences include The Allman Brothers, Steel Drivers, Led Zeppelin, Widespread Panic, Grateful Dead, The Band, Guns N Roses, Jeff Buckley, Neil Young, Radiohead, and The Marshall Tucker Band.
Can you share the stories behind the songs on Peace & Cornbread?
“The majority of P&C was written shortly after my wife had our son, Shepherd. Looking back on that time, we were in a dark place so a lot of the tunes are about trying to find hope in a hopeless world. ‘Hills and Valleys,’ specifically was written about postpartum depression.
‘Possum‘ was a tune I’d written a few years ago after listening to some Brent Cobb. I played it for Brad one night at my kitchen table, he added the ‘oooooooooooohhhs’ and it became one of the songs we took to the studio. It’s a redemption song. I’m quite spiritual so you’ll hear lots of faith flags as well as direct reference to what Christ has done in my life.
‘Troubled Southern Sky‘ is another feel good tune about finding light in darkness.
‘High in the Garden‘ is a song written from the perspective of St. Peter at the gates of heaven. He tells you to come on in, get your soul and your belly filled up, and enjoy the garden. The album name came from a lyric in this tune.
‘Carolina Calls‘ great Appalachian style love tune written by Brad. It’s celebratory. Let’s rattle and shake!
‘Born to Die‘ is a song about being stuck somewhere between hope and doubt. Listen here.
‘Mountain Honey‘ is another of Brad’s tunes about a man that loves the simplicities of the wild and could easily disappear into the mountains, but he loves his woman more.
‘Lay Your Love Down on Me‘ is obviously a love song. I love this tune. It’s the only song I’ve ever played a guitar solo on. It was with a 50’s gut string guitar owned by Modern Electric Sound Recorders.
‘You Can Run‘-this is a tune that Brad and I pieced together from a riff he had and some lyrics I had. This tune has been on our set list since early 2014. I think this song really defines our sound. If you only heard this tune, you could probably figure out a lot about The Buffalo Ruckus.
‘Don’t Think We Were Fooled‘ is another song Brad and I put together at my kitchen table. It’s about shouldering your way through a saturated music scene and all the bull crap folks will throw at you if they think they can get something from you.”
For someone who hasn’t heard your music before, what one song best represents who you are as a band?
“‘High in the Garden‘ probably represents our message most: Light up the dark with music! (Listen here). As far as sound goes, ‘You Can Run‘ really gives you a taste of where we’re coming from. We don’t want to be put in a box or a genre. We just want to play American music to whoever will listen. (Listen here)”
Last year the band opened for one of their longtime idols, Ray Wylie Hubbard, at the Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, TX. You can catch the Buffalo Ruckus on the road – their tour schedule.