When someone would ask me what show I had on Thursday night, I felt the need to preface my answer with, “It’s not my typical thing but it’s just so dang good.” As I drove to The Turf Club in Saint Paul, I realized how silly that disclaimer was. At this point in my career as a music blogger, there’s no longer a “typical” for me. I see a bit of everything, review a little bit of everything, and can almost find something to fall in love with about everything I see and hear. Beyond that, some music is just for everyone regardless of what genre you typically find yourself stuck in and that’s exactly what Bufalo Nichols is.
Before I get into the magic that was Buffalo Nichols, let’s talk about the amazing talent that is Luke Callen. Luke took over the stage with just himself, his guitar, and a microphone and instantly swooned the crowd into a trance. His vocals were so clean and clear and his guitar playing only enhanced them in a gorgeous way. Luke’s sound is a bit more country-drenched than I expected for a Minnesotan but I feel like that just goes to show how traveled this man is. Although he currently lives here in Minneapolis, he is originally from La Crosse, Wisconsin, spent time in Colorado, and has played hundreds of shows across the country. Although that is the normal life of a hard-working musician, it’s not always where you get to see those travels reflect in the music.
As mentioned, Luke’s guitar playing was perfect and clearly well-practiced but it was the vocals that had me completely entranced by this man. They were silky smooth but emitted this undeniable sense of emotion and heartbreak in a stunning way. The lyrics of each song were true story-telling styled creating this atmosphere where you didn’t even want to breathe too heavily in case you may miss a certain word that could mean everything to the song. Although by the standards of the punk shows I’ve been at lately, Luke’s set was a generous length, I felt like it was over far too soon. Although I was excited to see the headliner of the night, I was bummed to have to say goodbye to Luke’s performance but hopefully, it’s just a short goodbye and I will have the chance to catch him live again soon.
Oh, Buffalo Nichols. Where do I even start with this man? His name came across my radar in July of 2021. I blindly went to his show at The 7th Street Entry purely based on an intriguing description I had read online and due to some of the musicians he had been compared to in the past. I’ll never forget standing there that night being completely entranced by Buffalo Nichols’ passion and talent so to say that I was excited to experience it all over again would be fair.
The Turf Club was pretty packed when I emerged from the Clown Lounge downstairs after grabbing a drink with some friends that I had conned into going with me to the show and that just added to my excitement. I was so lost in the music back in July of 2021 that I don’t remember if the room was packed that night or not but I was stoked to see so many people ready to experience the magic. I have to be honest, I remember walking upstairs, snagging a pretty perfect spot near the bar but right next to the stage, and remember people cheering as Buffalo Nichols took the stage but the rest of the evening was a perfect blur.
Buffalo Nichols’ voice is something that absolutely just needs to be heard instead of being explained to you. It’s dark and raspy but it has a smoothness to it that easily lulls you into a trance. The easiest comparison would be William Elliot Whitmore but I feel like that’s both a bit of a cop-out and an obscure musician to a lot of people but he kind of has that same light-in-darkness element. Musically, Buffalo Nichols has this perfect blend of Americana, blues, southern twang, and even an almost jazzy element. Although he performed a few songs with what seemed to be tracking of drums (or at least a beat), it was his voice and guitar playing that reigned supreme throughout his set and that’s what you want from a Buffalo Nichols show. Although I think it would be interesting to see him shine with a full band behind him, there’s something just so special about seeing such a talent alone in the spotlight.
When I was getting ready to write this review, I took a second to see if Buffalo Nichols had posted anything on his socials regarding the show and realized that my review will do nothing for him because he explained it perfectly with what he said attached to a picture of the full venue. “Thanks to everyone who came to The Turf Club last night. Can’t begin to describe what it meant so I won’t try but if you were there, you know.”