by Devon Anderson
Born out of a funeral home basement in Alliance, Ohio, White Buffalo Woman are now playing venues all over the state of Ohio, with a strong focus on Akron. In fact, if you keep an eye on the local scene, you’ll find plenty of chances to check them out live.
We had the chance to chat with White Buffalo Woman’s lead vocalist, Evan Rutledge, and learn a little bit more about the band.
Devon: What is the White Buffalo Woman Origin story? Where, when and how did the magic begin?
Evan: We decided to take the name White Buffalo Woman after being offered to play a gig in Nashville with some friends back in 2011. At that point, we were playing covers in our practice space in the basement of Joe’s family funeral home. We decided to try and write our own songs for the gig. We managed to write 3-4 originals and filled the rest of the set with a Donavan and a Black Keys cover.
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Devon: Your albums are so well-produced. Tell me where you record.
Evan: Thank you! We record at a studio called Ampreon Recorder. It’s located in Youngstown. It’s owned and operated by Pete Drivere. He records straight to tape. We were suggested to check out the studio by a buddy I had in college. We’ve been working with Pete since the beginning. He definitely knows the sounds we are looking for and makes the whole process come together much easier. He helped shape a lot of our ideas for the newest album. And he’s become a really good friend since we’ve been working with him.
Devon: WBW seems to be on a touring tear lately, and I am constantly getting updates on your next few shows (including one just announced at the House of Blues in September!). It seems that you’re really catching on! What is touring like for you as an indie band?
Evan: We went on a Midwest tour in March. We hit seven or eight different states in two weeks. It was a crazy cool learning experience for us. Touring out of state can be risky because we are still gaining a fan base outside of Ohio. So there’s lots of long nights, booze, and sleeping on a friend’s floor, and not much money to be made. It’s not the most glamorous, but we are getting to reach new fans every time we head out of town. Touring locally can be super fun. We still have a lot of work to do when reaching a bigger audience here in Northeast Ohio. But it seems like every show we play, we meet a new person.
Devon: Do you have any favorite venues to play?
Evan: Any venue on any given night can be our favorite venue. Honestly, a lot of it has to do with the people who show up. If the audience is feeling it, then we will feel it. It usually makes for a better performance. We’ve played for a friend’s house show and have had some of the best performances. And we’ve played big outdoor stages where no one is really interested. It truly depends on the night. With that said, we absolutely love to play Musica in Akron, Coda in Tremont and the Auricle in Canton. But we will play anywhere that people will have us.
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Devon: I’ve heard you say that the writing process is pretty much a group effort and that everyone has a part to play. Does that get frustrating, or is it the only way you can imagine doing it?
Evan: The process might take a bit longer, but it’s totally worth it. For now, it seems like the way we will continue to write songs. However, I can’t say that is the only way we will write. We are open to different techniques. We are all open-minded.
Devon: What’s next for you guys since “Foolish Hearts” dropped in January?
Evan: We just released “Foolish Hearts” on Vinyl. So we will be slinging wax for the next few months at gigs. We have a busy next few months playing locally. I’d love to shoot another music video for a track from “Foolish Hearts.” We have been jamming a lot at practice and we plan on writing with our new bass player. We are anxious to get back at it and eventually record again.
Devon: How do you pick what songs make the live set list?
Evan: We usually pick the songs that produce the best performances, or the songs that we have the most fun playing. We have a bunch of songs we could play for a 45-minute set, but we have been keeping it to a set that we call “The Power Set.” It starts off with some older songs and then blasts off with the singles from “Foolish Hearts,” and then falls into a psychedelic jam. We have the ability to pick and choose songs. There are a few songs that we don’t play live anymore. But given the right mood, or nostalgic feeling we could bring back pretty much anytime.
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Devon: What else do our readers need to know about you guys?
Evan: Support local musicians and artists. We love all of you out there that have supported us. We love everyone who has stuck it out with us and has supported us from day one. Go see live music! And buy more vinyl!
Devon Anderson is a writer, mom, and educator based in North Canton.
(Photos taken with permission from White Buffalo Woman)