The Buffalo Gals at The Archangel Frome Festival

2014 BG new imageI FIRST heard of the Buffalo Gals through their facebook page, and was intrigued enough by the snippets of American musical history and dance to go along to their Frome Festival gig.

I was anticipating a night of American Old-Time String Band tunes but was totally unprepared for the sheer diversity of styles in this increasingly popular genre of Americana. From hard-driving traditional dance tunes to obscure string-band novelties, the band delighted the audience with its passionate delivery of the soaring Eliza’s Farewell, a dance number typefying the “high lonesome” sound associated with Bluegrass.

Led by unexpectedly funny front-woman, the multi-talented fiddle player and lead singer Kate Lissauer, the audience surrendered to the rhythms and harmonies of “I’m a Wild and Restless Cowboy from the West.”

Buffalo Gals percussion is provided by one woman’s feet, which provide a hypnotic and seriously impressive rhythm. Sibs Riesen’s syncopated dancing – known as Appalachian step-dance or clogging – on a wooden board punctuated the music throughout the evening. Before long most of the increasingly enthusiastic crowd were up and dancing for themselves.

As well as being blown away by the range of styles in the Buffalo Gals evening, you cannot fail to be impressed by the multi-skilled  band members. Lead vocals are shared between Kate and banjo player and raunchy blues-voiced Sue ‘Sooz’ Clare.

Sooz also wrote several of the numbers and was part of the mad trio’s Whoopie Song and Doodad, which involves yodelling and produced loud cheering from the crowd.

“It’s great to have so many young people enjoying the energy of old-time American music,” says Jonny the banjo-man. “Even if they’ve never heard of it before they can feel what it is about and as we get older, our crowds are getting younger because this scene is growing now.”

Allison Herbert from Frome Festival

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