The White Buffalo is the project of earthy, Oregon-born and Southern California-raised singer/songwriter Jake Smith, who grew up listening to punk bands like the Descendents and the Circle Jerks and didn’t pick up a guitar until age 19. During his college years in the Bay Area, he began writing and performing his own songs, hitting upon the White Buffalo name as one of several suggestions from his friends that he drew out of a hat.
For her newest release, Bison Ranch Recording Sessions, Little Miss Higgins teamed up with a very talented quintet of musicians from Manitoba. She calls them the Winnipeg Five—Jimmie James McKee on trumpet, Eric Lemoine on banjo and pedal steel, Blake Thomson on guitar, Patrick Alexandre Leclerc on upright bass, Evan Friesen on drums and all five of them sing harmonies. As they play music in a similar vein as Higgins, it was a fitting alliance both onstage and in the studio…well, not quite a typical recording studio. With new songs waiting on the sidelines, the six of them decided to record in a barn, a barn on a bison ranch in rural Manitoba.
Ry Cooder’s first live record in more than 35 years, Live in San Francisco. Recorded in 2011 during a special two-night engagement at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall, the album includes 12 songs and was produced by Cooder. The Corridos Famosos band includes Joachim Cooder on drums; Robert Francis on bass; vocalists Terry Evans, Arnold McCuller, and Juliette Commagere; Flaco Jimenez on accordion; and the ten-piece Mexican brass band La Banda Juvenil.
Live in San Francisco includes original songs and interpretations of other material ranging across Cooder’s entire career, from classics like “Boomer’s Story” and “Dark End of the Street” to more recent originals such as “Lord Tell Me Why” and “El Corrido de Jesse James, ” with a detour for Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs’ “Wooly Bully” and Lead Belly’s “Goodnight Irene. ” Cooder’s only previous live album was the 1977 release Show Time, on which Evans and Jimenez were also featured. Show Time was also recorded at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall.
Two years ago, Andrew Marlin decided to walk across a North Carolina dam at night. He slipped, fell 10 feet, landed on his pelvis and woke up in a hospital bed. As he regained consciousness, one of his visitors – Mandolin Orange bandmate Emily Frantz — handed him an acoustic guitar. He picked it up, still stoned from the meds, and started strumming.
Mandolin Orange’s new release, This Side of Jordan, tells the story of Marlin’s healing process. The music may be rooted in Appalachian traditions — everything from gospel to folk to country-rock — but the songs are rooted in the human condition, balanced equally between tragedy and hope. It’s honest music, shot through with coed harmonies, sweeping fiddle, mandolin, acoustic guitar and the sort of unfakeable intimacy that bonds simpatico musicians like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.
This Edsel reissue combines three similar Vern Gosdin albums originally released in the late ’70s on Elektra Records, Till the End, Never My Love, and You’ve Got Somebody. The 30 tracks include the hits “Till the End,” “Never My Love,” and two tracks with Emmylou Harris, “Hangin On” and “Yesterday’s Gone.” Casual listeners should pick up Super Hits on Sony before delving into these recordings.