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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment June 28, 2016

9/3/2013 1:28:00 PM
The White Buffalo featured at Sisters Folk Festival
The White Buffalo Band will perform at the Sisters Folk Festival this weekend. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
The White Buffalo Band will perform at the Sisters Folk Festival this weekend. photo provided

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

Jake Smith's musical journey took him down the troubadour road, not a career path.

Known as The White Buffalo to an ever-growing legion of fans, the singer-songwriter built that following slowly by barnstorming the country, first as a solo performer with an acoustic guitar and a powerful baritone voice and now with a powerhouse band.

He earned his way down that hard road on talent, intensity and powerful storytelling.

"I took the long path," he told The Nugget in an interview last week. "A couple of (years) were lost couch-surfing. My wife kinda straightened me out and I've been on a more focused path."

That path brought him to the Sisters Folk Festival several years ago. It's a nice stop for him, since his folks live here: He's the son of longtime Sisters-area residents Jeff and Ginny Smith.

"We play Bend fairly often," he allowed. "We play at The Horned Hand, which is always a rowdy, fun time."

The White Buffalo's profile has become considerably more visible since his last appearance at the Sisters Folk Festival. That's due in no small part to the impact of placing songs on cable TV dramas. His music has been featured on several shows, but has become a centerpiece in critical dramatic moments on the FX hit "Sons of Anarchy."

The White Buffalo's menace-laden vocals, revealing morally conflicted and sometimes violent characters, is a perfect fit with the sharply written biker drama, which covers the same deadly thematic territory.

"My lawyer cold-called the music supervisor and took him to lunch," The White Buffalo recalled.

That moment led to the placement of six songs in "SOA" episodes, with a seventh to come in the sixth season, which premiers on September 10.

The same date is the drop-date for The White Buffalo's new CD, "Shadows, Greys & Evil Ways." Ever-independent, The White Buffalo is moving against the current of a downloadable singles-oriented music industry to offer up a concept album.

"Shadows, Greys & Evil Ways" is a series of story songs that together form the arc of a larger story of a soldier returning from war. It's a story of outsiders who find each other and seek to escape the set course of their lives. But options are few and Joey White joins the army and goes to war. Returning damaged, he seeks to find a way to change and live.

"There's this long road to redemption," he said. "In my mind, it's a love story and a story of hope, but there's all these existence questions in it. There's some big themes and I'm really proud of it."

Smith is well aware that he's moving counter-trend by producing a long-form story in musical landscape that has the attention-span of a 4-year-old, but he is unfazed.

"I've always done what I wanted," he said.

The White Buffalo will perform three sets at the Sisters Folk Festival (see schedule at www.sistersfolk, one solo-acoustic, and one with the band.

He finds satisfaction telling his story in both formats. With just the voice and guitar, the music is stripped down to "the purity of storytelling," he says.

With the band "it's wild and it's dynamic. I think it's equally intense, but people can dance to it and that's fun."

For more information on the sold-out Sisters Folk Festival see the related story on page one and visit For more information on The White Buffalo, visit

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