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CD Reviews  Michael Buffalo Smith  Southern Lights
  
 When I got my eagerly anticipated copy of Michael Buffalo Smith’s new CD, I figured that I was in for some good ol’ Southern Rock, seeing as how the Buff is from upstate South Carolina, home of The Marshall Tucker Band and site of the original Skynyrd’s last show. Michael has already written what I think is the definitive story of the music that comes out of South Carolina (“Carolina Dreams”) and has shared many a stage with Southern Rock’s elite. As a solo artist and with various bands such as Greenville (SC)’s True Blues, I’ve personally seen him perform live several times. He’s jammed on “Can’t You See” with the Marshall Tucker Band and held his own against guitar slingers like Dave Hlubeck ( from the original Molly Hatchet band and The Southern Rock Allstars) and Tommy Craine (Charlie Daniels Band). So I slung the CD in the player, grabbed a brew and got ready to rock and roll.

Before I get started talking about “Southern Lights”, I gotta brag a little on the Buffalo. This guy started a web site about 5 years ago called Gritz to  promote the articles he’d written about various Southern Rockers. Excellent interviews and pictures...Charlie Daniels, Bobby Ingram, Southern music in general...super cool web site. Then about a year ago, Mr. MBS hit a home run. He decided to put out a print version of Gritz. He’s on his 4th issue now and every one has been better than the one before. This is one quality magazine, folks. Go over to www.gritz.net and check out the on-line version of Gritz and get a subscription to the hard copy version. You will not be sorry...tell ‘em Skydog sent you.
Michael was kind enough to sit down and answer a couple of questions from the ol’ Skydog (no, I didn’t bribe him with good ol’ Southern cookin’ !).

   But guess what ? As I listened to this CD, it dawned on me. This isn’t Southern Rock...it’s SOUTHERN MUSIC. There’s a difference. When I think of Southern Rock, I imagine steamy, sweat-drenched bars, wild women and lots of likker (not liquor....remember, you’re down south!) Buffalo’s music is different...there’s the hint of gospel in his voice; not that he can’t growl with the best of them. There’s true dual guitar lines, twining around a solid rhythm section. It doesn’t make you think of bars and the wild life...it’s more like sitting back on the front porch in the summer...sometimes it’s hot as hell, but, sooner or later, the sun goes down and things slow down and cool off. That’s true Southern Music.

Q. : Hey Bro...Great new CD you’ve got there...how was it actually being in the same studio with some of these musicians ? It had to be intimidating sitting across from the likes of Tommy Crain and Bonnie Bramlett.

MBS : “It was a dream come true. And what a blessing...recording with Bonnie Bramlett...what a sweetheart ! Bless her heart for driving all the way from Nashville to Huntsville (Alabama) to record with me. When we finally confirmed that she would be coming, I wrote “I Don’t Wanna Say Goodbye” just for us to do as a duet. The song started from a light hearted conversation with Bonnie and turned into a serious love song. Wow, what an honor to record it with her !

As far as being intimidated...I’m just try to be myself and have fun. There was one point when we were recording “Ride On My Friend”, a tribute to Toy Caldwell written by Tony Heatherly, when Tommy Crain, one of my guitar idols, and I were sitting face to face. I’m picking his acoustic and he’s playing twin leads with me on his Goldtop Les Paul...OK, maybe there was a little flicker of intimidation...but what a great moment !”

Q : Did you try to follow a formula on “Southern Lights” or did the songs just fall into place ?

MBS : “ I can’t make a formula album...there’s all kind of influences on “Southern Lights”...U2, Marshall Tucker, Col. Bruce Hampton. I can’t write a Nashville formula song for the life of me.”

Q : Sounds like Nashville is due for a little shaking up anyway. Plus, there’s a lot of the older generation of “Outlaws” putting out some awful good music. David Allan Coe just released a killer live CD and DVD; Skynyrd might set Nashville on it’s ear with “Red, White & Blue” from their new CD. What do you think about the new generation of “Southern” Rockers ? Are they gonna be able to carry on the tradition ?

MBS: “I believe we’re in the midst of a true Southern Rock revival. I absolutely love The Regulators ! They rock. And Rebel Storm - whom I’ll be touring Europe with- are killer. Smokin Gun...and guess what....they’re all West Coast bands. Proves you don’t have to live in the South to put out true Southern Rock. And even in Europe, you’ve got W.I.N.D. from Italy...Nocturn, Flatman, Lizard...all from outside the US. Southern Rock has really become international. Back home, we’ve got Sevenmoore, a band featuring Jerry Eubanks and Paul Riddle (from the original Marshall Tucker Band), who are putting out incredible music. Dallas Moore, The Rhythm Pigs, Jay B. Elston, The South of Heaven Band...I know I’m leaving some out. So much good stuff !!
Q : Sounds like Southern music’s in good hands, Brother Buffalo. Thanks for visiting with us a while. Got any other Books on the burner ? That “Carolina Dreams” was a keeper. I know I’m hanging on to my autographed copy !
: “Thanks for the kind words. I’ve completed a biography of Doug Gray, an original member and present leader of The Marshall Tucker Band. The publisher’s holding it up for some reason or another, but I believe it’ll come out; just don’t know when. Gritz Publishing will soon have a collection of our best interviews from the last 5 years coming out. I’m also working on some other stuff...an autobiography and a novel about Southern Rock...been pretty busy.”

 OK folks, back to “Southern Lights”...I’m not going to give you a song-by-song review. I’m just gonna say this : if you like “Southern” music, you owe it to yourself to take a listen to this CD. There’s love songs (“I Don’t Wanna Say Goodbye”), there’s low-down blues (“Hooker’s Boogie”, “Mad Dog”), then there’s the introspective and truly beautiful songs (“Into The Light” and “Ride On My Friend”). What else could a good ol’ Southern boy want....even if you’re from California, Italy, or Australia....SOUTHERN MUSIC!

Visit: 
www.michaelbuffalosmith.com


 Skydog signin’ out....





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