This past weekend, my wife, my oldest son Gabriel and I went to L.A. so that he could visit college campuses (or is that campi?).
The fact that my favorite band happened to be playing a concert in L.A. on Saturday night was purely coincidence. (And by “coincidence” I mean “the main reason for the trip.”)
Yes, faithful dubbatrubba readers will know that I’m talking about Buffalo Tom. They play very infrequently these days, and usually only the left and right coasts of the U.S. of A. When I read that the west coast dates would feature two sets, including them playing their 1992 opus Let Me Come Over in its entirety, I figured I had to go see them… I’m not getting any younger and neither are they. As the opening track of the new album Quiet and Peace says “now my time behind is greater than my time ahead.” Besides, my son wanted to visit UCLA and USC… “Father of the Year” + Concert of My Dreams = win-win.
The cover of the Let Me Come Over album.
I won’t bore you with the details… chances are good that 70% of the 10 folks who actually read this blog don’t know who Buffalo Tom is and don’t care. Suffice it to say it was a fantastic evening, a borderline religious experience. They sounded great. I loved and savored every damn moment. They’re not the biggest band in the world by any stretch of the imagination. They’re semi-retired for all practical purposes. But to the 500-some-odd true fans in the Teragram Ballroom, most of whom are in their 50s, the three guys in their 50s up on stage crushed it.
Bill, Tom and Chris… just three average Joes playing some tunes for their friends.
For the three readers who do care, here are some links:
Great profile in the L.A. Times. (You can — and should — stream the new album there.) Love this quote:
Instead they live their lives, occasionally regroup, record and head out to perform for a fervent fan base. Some fans are simply enjoying reheating the embers of the heady club days of their alt-rock youth and others are following along with each album.
Super fan Mike O’Malley is in the latter category. Quite frankly, the actor-writer-producer — likely familiar to some for his comically poignant performance as Kurt’s dad on “Glee” or the early 2000s CBS sitcom “Yes, Dear” — is much more perturbed than the members of the band that Buffalo Tom has not achieved a higher level of mainstream recognition.
“I feel a little bit like Arthur Miller, ‘attention must be paid,'” O’Malley says with a laugh on the phone from New York, where he is putting the finishing touches on the book for the new Jimmy Buffett Broadway musical “Escape to Margaritaville.” “But, attention must be paid! I don’t understand why they’re not Wilco or The National. They deserve to be as well-known by a new generation of people who love music.” (emphasis mine.)
A profile in the Boston Globe.
Lead singer Bill Janovitz was a guest on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. (Bill comes on about 31 minutes in. Marc Maron was at the show – I said howdy.)
And this mini-review of the new album in the Boston Herald nails how I feel when it says the new album is as good as their older material:
Most songwriters peak. Few fans think Bob Dylan improved after “Blood on the Tracks.” Nobody champions Bruce Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball” over “Born to Run.” But subtract the nostalgia you feel for Buffalo Tom’s “Let Me Come Over” and you’ll likely find the new album “Quiet and Peace” as great as anything the band has done — don’t doubt my claim until you have listened to the quintessential Buffalo Tom track “Lonely Fast and Deep.”
The Boston trio of singer-guitarist Bill Janovitz, singer-bassist Chris Colbourn and drummer Tom Maginnis have nothing to prove. The guys will never make the band a full-time gig again — their ninth album comes after a seven-year break. Maybe it’s this freedom that allows them to write clear-eyed, adult rock ’n’ roll. (Note: This is not meant as a pejorative.)
They fill “Quiet and Peace” with tight rock about complex relationships. “Roman Cars” captures something between mature and playful, an aesthetic between the Kinks and R.E.M. “In the Ice” features a melody and melancholy that echoes Janovitz’s deeply underrated solo album “Walt Whitman Mall.” Flirting with folk, punk and rock drones, the band sounds endlessly comfortable with its art.
Buffalo Tom returns to the Paradise on April 20.