In this post-millenial era, it may not be so obvious what are the side projects and what are the main gigs for self-described “part time man of rock” Bill Janovitz and his cohorts in Boston-via-UMASS local heroes Buffalo Tom. The reality is that it's all side project at this point, the band having long settled into domestic life and
But that’s ok – so has the fan base that have been following them since their self-titled debut album from 1989 or even the ones that they picked up on the bigger commercial breakthrough that their 4th album, 1993’s Big Red Letter Day and its exposure on TV’s My So Called Life. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with having a day job and making music – that’s what most bands do, right? Buffalo Tom always had sort of a band-next-door-made-good kind of quality to them – they’re like us, we’re like them. They sing about day-to-day stuff we know about. There was never any phony rock star mystique. There still isn’t. Now, we may be a bit older, wiser, busier, but we still like to crank up Let Me Come Over whenever we can.
After supporting 1998’s Smitten, the band layed low but never really broke up, even though many thought they had - there was a particular Somerville Theatre gig in 2001 that, for no specific reason, everyone in attendance seemed to be assuming was their last. Thankfully it wasn't, but the band layed pretty low for a several years, usually playing one or two local gigs a year. Janovitz, in particular, kept pretty busy during this time by playing residencies, making solo albums, making Beatles albums with Graham Parker, writing books, etc.
Finally in 2007, the layoff ended and the band released the excellent Three Easy Pieces, which both felt informed by the influence of the intervening years and also like they never left. Clusters of tour dates followed, including a SXSW set that felt like a comeback event. Us Bostonians in the crowd may have known better, but it felt great anyway. The return to playing with regularity had them sounding as great as ever.
Tonight, they play the Paradise with Yep Roc-ers Peggy Sue just a couple of weeks shy of a year since they last played there. This could be just a warm up for another period of sustained activity, too – as Janovitz has been reporting on his blog (and Colbourn on the band’s message board), they’ve finished another new album, so we will anxiously be hoping to hear lots of new stuff interspersed with classics like "Taillights Fade" and "Birdbrain." Hey, how about “Your Stripes” while you’re at it?
Buffalo Tom: Intertubes | MySpace | Facebook | YouTube | Kitchen Door (exhaustive fan chronicle)
Bill Janovitz: Intertubes | Blog | MySpace | Facebook | YouTube