Introducing The Buffalo Gals

The Buffalo Gals are a six-piece old-time country string band led by champion Maryland fiddler, Kate Lissauer. The Somerset-based band specialises in the old songs, tunes and step-dances of Appalachia and with five performances lined up this week, we sent Becky, our Marketing Assistant, to find out more…

The Buffalo Gals (two of whom are definitely not gals!) are billed as American roots music specialists. It’s a genre of music I know little about so I was intrigued to find out more. I asked Kate, the band’s lead singer and fiddle player, to give me a brief introduction to the American roots music scene…

Kate Lissauer of Buffalo Gals
Kate Lissauer of Buffalo Gals

“The music that we call ‘Old-Time’ comes mainly from the southern Appalachian Mountain states of the U.S. It was there that a fusion of musical inspirations took place, drawing from British Isles, European African, and Native American influences. A unique sound was created that, with its regional variations, expresses the culture of the people who settled in these isolated areas. String bands sprang up everywhere as a form of entertainment and social focus before recorded media was invented. When the record industry began, the ‘Old-Time’ country musicians were among the first to be recording stars, and we draw a lot of our inspiration from the wealth of music put on vinyl during that time, as well as from our own creative interpretation of the music.”

We are always interested to learn about artists’ experiences of rural touring and Kate was particularly enthusiastic about rural venues. This is what she had to say…

“Rural touring is the ideal forum for our show, because it brings us together with eclectic rural audiences, much like those who would have attended string band events in the early days of the music. The tradition comes from isolated communities and from people creating their own entertainment, and that is reflected in the shows we do in village halls.

Many people in the audiences, unlike at folk festivals or bluegrass festivals, are unfamiliar with the music, which actually makes our performances even more fun for us, as there are no preconceived ideas. Lots of people come to us later and say that they have been ‘converted!’

We’ve had fun everywhere we’ve been. Each hall is unique, yet all share a common spirit of community and fun. We’ve also had wonderful times with people that have shown us great hospitality.”

Buffalo Gals
Buffalo Gals

The intimacy of village halls often puts performers’ personalities in the spotlight alongside their talents and technical abilities. I’d heard that the Buffalo Gals have plenty of humorous stories to tell so I asked Kate to give me a flavour…

“Well, I pretty much only tell the truth when I’m on stage, in an anecdotal manner. I like to let the audience get to know my fellow band members by giving them lots of interesting information. For example, our guitarist, before he joined the band, tried to get a job on the railroad, and in the interview, he was asked some practical questions to test his intelligence and initiative. The first question was: ‘Suppose you were the switchman and you heard that a freight train was coming north at sixty miles an hour and a passenger train was coming south along the same track at eighty miles an hour. What would you do?’ Jason said, ‘I’d run and get my brother.’ They asked him, ‘Why would you do that?’ and Jason said, ‘My brother ain’t never seen a train crash.’ This is why Jason now works as a guitarist in Buffalo Gals!”

Now, Buffalo Gals is a slightly unusual name so I couldn’t let Kate go without asking a little more about it…

“Buffalo Gals is the name for a dance tune originating, some think, from Georgia. The name refers, most likely, to females from the town of Buffalo, New York, rather than to the result of a genetic experiment! The song was widely popular throughout the United States. Because of its popularity, minstrels altered the lyrics to suit the local audience, so it might be performed as “New York Gals” in New York City or “Boston Gals” in Boston.”

Finally, the topic of conversation that we always like to end on is cake! We like to find out a company’s favourite type of cake (a much discussed topic in the office) and Kate offered a slightly controversial answer…

“Dr. Karg’s spelt and emmental biscuits are a mainstay of touring on the road. Highly recommended by all band members for restoring stamina.”

To find out more about Buffalo Gals visit and to meet Kate visit

You can experience Buffalo Gals for yourself at a venue near you, see dates below and click here for more information

Tuesday 9 April 2013, 7:30pm
Ashford War Memorial Institute, Bakewell

Wednesday 10 April 2013, 7:30pm
Pattingham Village Hall, Wolverhampton

Thursday 11 April 2013, 7:30pm
Pailton Village Hall, Rugby

Friday 12 April 2013, 8:00pm
The Burton Institute, Winster, Matlock (sold out)

Saturday 13 April 2013, 8:00pm
Trimpley Village Hall, Kidderminster



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