Pine Fever and The Observers @ Babeville (Inside Asbury Hall), Buffalo, New York 5-15-15

     Americana – the word brings with it images of what is good about our country. What comes to mind is apple pie, a 4th of July parade, baseball, and a New Orleans street corner band. A good old-fashioned banjo strumming, bass drum pounding, horn blaring band that makes you tap your feet or even dance a little, or dance a lot. Americana music was in full force last Friday at the 9th Ward basement room at Babeville in downtown Buffalo, NY.

     Buffalo has an emerging music scene that is as varied as anywhere. This night’s lineup took a slice out of the sweet side of the music pie. Pine Fever is a five piece band that has everything you could want in the genre. Alex Cline on horn, Levi Van Cleve on Resonator Guitar, Jacob Verghese on Banjo, Patrick “Thor” Johnson on upright Bass, and Andy Pothier on drums stir up an authentic New Orleans flavored sound. With standards like Louis Armstrong’s “Who Walks in When I Walk Out?” Charley Poole’s ode to the McKinley Assassination, “White House Blues” (Mckinley’s Gone), and Johnny Horton’s “The Battle of New Orleans,” Pine Fever evokes a street corner cool and backwoods stompin’ groove that makes it hard to sit still. The 9th Ward crowd met the first notes of nearly every song with hoots and hollers and sang along with enthusiasm. It was as if Pine Fever had a backyard party and invited everyone in the neighborhood. This band does not play out enough if you ask their fans or maybe that’s just the way they like it. Too much Pine Fever can make one crazy you know.

     The Observers are another Buffalo band that takes root in the southern music style. Call it a mix of bluegrass, country pickin’, jugband, hoedown, and croonin’ music. The Observers bring an eclectic air to the stage that sounds like they have been playing together for a long time. Ben Perrello on Mandolin, Allen Greystone on Guitar, Josh Gage on Uke, Tyler Wescott on Banjo, Dan Schwach on drums, and Matt Eppolito on upright Bass are a tight group that play off each other well. Mixing originals like “Barbara and John” with Classics like “Helen of Troy,” these good ol’ boys just sound great. Everybody sings and plays with style. Most entertaining was the impromptu encore of “You Are My Sunshine” which had the loudest crowd sing-a-long of the night. Look for The Observers next time you are looking for a good time and you won’t be disappointed.

     The opening act was an excellent four piece band from Rochester called The Younger Gang. Fronted by banjo/fiddle player and vocalist Michelle Younger, their short set of down home music made me wish they played a little longer. There is a sweet simpleness to their sound that makes you happy. Y’all come back now, y’ hear!

Pine Fever setlist:

On The Corner
Mornin’ Crutch
Ghost of Smokin’ Joe
Oh So Susan
The Battle of New Orleans
Midnight’s Curse
No Man’s Land
White House Blues
Puerto Rican BJ Machine
You Rascal You
Who Walks In When I Walk Out

The Observers setlist:

There Is A Time
Ode to Rembrandt
Barbara and John
Movin’ On
Helen of Troy
Headin’ West
Break Free
Good Enough For Me
Come On Baby Please


You Are My Sunshine         

We would like to thank The Observers for the credentials to review the show.