By Jordan Stricker
CALGARY – It has been 16 years since Jake Smith released his first album under the moniker The White Buffalo. He’s learned many lessons on the road, and there may be many more to come. With a hefty baritone voice carrying notes that can be heard for miles, he has constructed a rough-and-tumble musical mode all his own. He strums an acoustic guitar to transport his experiences of love, pain and everything in between.
Raised in Southern California, Smith started his musical journey at 19 drawn to both twang and raging power chords. “I grew up on country music. When I got into high school, I got into the punk scene in California which really had an impact. Those two elements really influenced me.”
No stranger to getting things done and setting the bar high, when he could only grind out a couple of chords on the guitar he would call venues and play his music over the phone with hopes of landing local gigs. “It’s crazy to think that at one juncture I didn’t even consider myself a musician, to now having a catalogue and playing all over the world it is amazing.”
Helping White Buffalo’s popularity soar followed when they were included on the soundtrack to the outlaw motorcycle TV series, Sons of Anarchy.
“I had no label or management. I only had a few projects under my belt but my lawyer asked the music supervisor out to lunch and it ended up happening,” recalls Smith. “It was a great run, and it really helped my career.”
Smith’s music is typified by his hefty voice, laid atop of a bed of similarly powerful acoustic guitar. He strums his strings so hard he has no choice but to go with the toughest gauge of string you can buy. “I like the juxtaposition of having something that is really dark but feels good.”
Sporting long flowing locks and a grizzly beard, Smith’s towering presence is felt the second he touches the stage. His songs are just as dramatic romping from heartfelt to heartbreak to mayhem and murder, painting pictures that vividly play-out like short films.
“I like the fact that I don’t have to stay in one genre. I can write a murder song, I can write a love song, I can write a heartbreak song. There are no limitations to what can be written. I’m lucky enough to have a voice that can one moment be tender, and in another be aggressive and a little scary,” says Smith Continuing with that progression, White Buffalo’s newest effort is called Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights.
The White Buffalo performs March 8 at Marquee Beer Market & Stage (Calgary) and March 9 at the Starlite Room (Edmonton).Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights, Marquee Beer Market & Stage, Sons of Anarchy, The Starlite Room, The White Buffalo