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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.
Born in rural Indiana shortly after his family moved “west” from southern Virginia to start a livestock feed store, Simon Flory’s music is suffused with the elements of his childhood – days spent in the fields, church sings, gravel roads, and genuine mule drawn molasses.
It takes a perceptive ear to translate these icons of a mythical “Americana” into the daily textures of real human lives, and Flory does it with the sincerity of early country music. His compositions are as much short-story sketches as they are songs, each populated – like the locales that inspire them – with those among us who have few choices.
Flory’s sound evokes voices not much heard on radio airwaves, a stew of early country, gospel, and the best of classic Nashville. Even his guitar playing captures the rhythmic tumble of clawhammer banjo and Appalachian fiddle (on both of which he’s adept), and his vocal phrasing carries inflections from the Carter Family to Eddie Cochran to Hank Williams.
After earning a degree in writing and theatre, Flory moved to Chicago and founded the country band Merle The Mule while working as a multi-instrumentalist in an old time duo with teacher Ed Tverdek and as an employee at the Old Town School of Folk Music. In 2008 he moved to the Ozarks of Arkansas where he worked closely with local musicians and met his mentor and friend Donny Catron of the legendary bluegrass band The Tennessee Gentlemen.
His first solo record, self-released Unholy Town, led him to Austin, TX where he continued to work as a solo performer and multi-instrumentalist before co-founding the Austin based country-bluegrass supergroup, “High Plains Jamboree” with Beth Chrisman, Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay. In 2016 they were official showcase artists at Folk Alliance International, IBMA, and Americanafest where Rolling Stone called them, “One of the best things we saw”.
Flory now resides in Fort Worth, TX where he splits time between songwriting sessions locally and in Nashville, playing bass and banjo in bands and studio sessions, teaching and most recently working on a film to accompany his upcoming solo EP set to be released in 2019. Also: gardening, trail running, Larry Brown, the Davis Mountains, the incomparable love and support of his partner Anita, family recipes, tackling the Ghazal, native plants of TX, Earl Hines, mules, a nice hat, a decent pair of boots and a ten year old shirt to name a few other things.
The Grey Eagle
185 Clingman Ave
Asheville, NC, 28801