Undergoing something of a musical transformation, Bigfoot Buffalo has changed with the cycles of the moon.
Having rotating members in and out of its lineup from 2014 to 2016, the Grand Rapids band emerged from the cold last winter with a roaring new sound that it has now captured on its second studio LP, The Sun Is The Moon. The album is the band’s follow-up to its 2015 self-titled, Jammie Award-nominated, mostly acoustic debut.
“We started as an acoustic band,” said vocalist/guitarist Kyle Brown. “Acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle and eventually upright bass. Now we’re two guitars — almost exclusively electric — drums, keys and electric bass. The instrumentation has evolved and the sound with it. It’s like in the ’50s and ’60s when bands started out as jug or skiffle groups and over time grew into rock ‘n’ roll groups. I guess we kind of did that, just much faster.”
When Bigfoot Buffalo first formed — with Brown on guitar and vocals, Michael Prokopchuk (formerly of The Waxies) on fiddle and Evan Breithart on mandolin — the young singer-songwriter found himself listening to a ton of bluegrass, country, folk and old tyme music.
He took influence from legends like Del McCoury, Sam Bush, Brownie Mcghee & Sonny Terry, Ledbelly, Townes Van Zandt and others. But over the last few years, he’s gotten into more rock bands like The Allman Brothers Band, Pink Floyd, The Who, Drive By Truckers and Moe.
During that same time, Bigfoot Buffalo began to grow into its own as well, with a solid lineup made up of Michael Serota on bass, Charlie Merkel on drums and Landon Knoppers on keys. Most recent addition Luke Smits joined the band earlier this year on guitar.
“We’ve all been playing in various bands since we were in high school, but I’d say for me, Bigfoot Buffalo is the first band I’ve been in where it feels like that all-for-one, one-for-all vibe,” Brown said. Previously, he’s played drums for Nicholas James & the Bandwagon and fronted the band Into The West. “We all hang out together in our free time, even after being together on the road on such a regular basis — we’re all just good friends playing music.”
Averaging around 50 shows per year, the band will continue to expand its roaming area following the release of The Sun Is The Moon, with ventures planned for Wisconsin and elsewhere in the coming year. But the band’s familiar stomping grounds here in West Michigan have really helped Bigfoot Buffalo develop into what it is now.
Calling its new sound “psychedelic-roots-rock,” Bigfoot Buffalo melds together country, blues, funk, prog and psychedelic rock on The Sun Is The Moon, creating an album that seamlessly flows and transitions from one tune to the next. Recorded at Centennial Sound with The Crane Wives’ Ben Zito, the new LP was mastered by Ian Gorman at La Luna recording in Kalamazoo. In addition, the four-member horn section from Muskegon funk-rock band Flexadecibel backed Bigfoot Buffalo on four songs off the album, and also will perform for the album’s release show on Nov. 3 at Tip Top Deluxe.
“I think the best part of this scene is people are open to a lot of different types of music, which has made our evolution that much easier,” Brown said. “I’m sure people prefer different genres and different eras in our band’s existence. But for the most part, people have been just as interested in our newfound psychedelic rock direction as they were in our early old tyme and folk stuff. I think the festival scene in Michigan helps that a lot. There’s a whole bunch of different genres represented and the folks aren’t afraid to genre hop all over the place.”
The Sun Is The Moon LP Release Show
Wsg. Flexadecibel, Conrad Shock
Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill
760 Butterworth St. SW, Grand Rapids
Nov. 3, 8 p.m., $5
bigfootbuffalo.com, (616) 272-3910