At the heart of all great music is a story, and for that matter, a storyteller. The stories behind Milwaukee-based Buffalo Gospel begin with its founder Ryan Necci and his early introduction, through his father’s record collection, to country music, John Prine and Townes Van Zandt. Growing up in a small, lower middle class farm town, the songs of love and loss and broken blue-collar dreams seeped into him. When he started writing his own music over a decade ago, it was inevitable that the timeless quality of Country/Western and Americana arrangements would profoundly inform his art.
Over a period of a few years, he experienced the dissolution of a marriage and the death of his close friend and writing partner. The immediate response was to quit music and live with his demons, yet as time moved on, writing about the darkness was the only way to keep going. These crystalline bits of bleary, haggard, emotion shine through Buffalo Gospel’s debut album, “We Can Be Horses,” which came out in 2013 to rave reviews. Critics called the work “minimalist and masterful,” “musically arresting,” and “Milwaukee’s Best Kept Secret.”
The band followed up with a critically-acclaimed EP, ‘Waiting For the Lights to Go Out,’ while gathering momentum for their sophomore album. “On The First Bell” was recorded with Grammy award-winning engineer, Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens, Indigo Girls) at The Hive, nestled quietly in the rural landscape just outside Eau Claire, WI. Necci says, “It was the perfect place for us to record these songs.” The new record has the same strong, country-americana feel as “We Can Be Horses,” combining the band’s dual penchant for hopped up trucker country and breathtakingly honest ballads. Most of these songs would be right at home amidst the 1970s AM radio nuggets gleaned from Necci’s father’s old record collection.
Buffalo Gospel delivers through a virtual “who’s-who” of crack Midwest musicians who have assembled around Necci’s heartfelt and heartbreaking songs – including Kevin Rowe (bass), Nick Lang (percussion), Haley Rydell (fiddle), Andrew Koenig (guitar). The band’s wildcat live performances take listeners to a dusty, forlorn, but strangely familiar place that simply gets sweeter with time.