Donna the Buffalo

Live from the American Ballroom

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Approaching their 15th anniversary, a lifetime in any music scene, Donna the Buffalo released Live From the American Ballroom, a two-disc set cut recorded live on tour. The songs are pulled fairly evenly from the band's myriad albums and maintain a consistent vibe throughout. The music is a rich acoustic blend that might strike rock fans as wimpy, but will have a warm appeal to older Deadheads, fans of the Band, Richie Havens, and other upbeat folk. At the center of the band's sound is the accordion of Tara Nevins (who also plays fiddle, scrub board, and guitar). Nonetheless, it is the accordion, with its Cajun flourishes, that defines many of the band's upbeat rhythms. The vibe is good-time (a cover of Step Ridaeu's "Standing Room Only"), the lyrics are socially conscious ("America," "Push Comes to Shove"), but the improvisation is somewhat tepid. There are long solos, but few deep musical explorations. Even the band's zydeco material (such as "Revelation Two-Step") feels a little sluggish.

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