The Wild Buffalo

Music under the big top

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I respect any number of things about the Wild Buffalo’s ownership cohort of Craig Jewell, Joey Crahan, and Lee Huffman, but nothing more than their steadfast, unshakable belief that owning a music venue is supposed to be fun. Sure, they deal with all the standard-issue problems of operating a small business as well as the stresses particular to running a music venue and establishment that serves adult beverages. But they rarely let the strain of occasionally having to be proper grownups get in the way of a good time.

The ringleader of the circus that is the Wild Buffalo is no doubt Jewell, who took the venue over when he was barely out of college (and by his own account, barely knew what he was doing), and has been spreading his infectious energy all over the place ever since.

Jewell handles a good portion of the booking for the bar, and while he does place a firm emphasis on bringing a variety of musicians and bands of unquestionable quality, sometimes he takes a chance on a show for no other reason than it amuses him. The coming days are a mix of both the method and the madness of life under the Buffalo big top—I’ll let you try and discern which of the performers were chosen for their skills and which might’ve been booked just for the fun of it.

The first show in this three-ring entertainment circus happens Sat., Feb. 25 and features one of the hardest-working men in Seattle hip-hop, Sam Lachow. When he’s not acting as a producer, or directing, filming and editing videos for himself and other artists, or running Black Umbrella Music with co-collaborator Raz Simone, he’s writing his own chapter in the idiosyncratic history of Seattle rap. The Wild Buffalo has always been a satellite of sorts for the Seattle hip-hop scene, and Lachow helps to continue that tradition. See him before he blows up, puts out a platinum album, wins a Grammy and then you can’t get a ticket when he comes through town on his thank you tour. Sounds ridiculous, but it has been known to happen around these parts.

Sometimes, the artists you see on the Wild Buffalo stage are up-and-comers, but occasionally, the venue will host a bona fide musical legend. The latter will be the case when Mike Watt plays a show on Sun., Feb. 26 with his band the Missingmen. Watt has been playing mostly nonstop for the better part of four decades, but probably lives largest in our collective music lore as founding bass player of punk trio the Minutemen. In just five short years, the Minutemen released four albums and eight EPs, planted some of the seeds that would become the alternative rock movement, and cemented Watt’s considerable influence on an entire generation of musicians. He’s collaborated with members of Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, the Screaming Trees (I wasn’t kidding about his impact on alternative rockers), the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, Henry Rollins, and more. When not busy with his many pursuits, both musical and otherwise, he’s played bass in the reunited and retooled Stooges. In short, he’s the epitome of a musician’s musician, and an opportunity to see someone with a resume this deep is a rare privilege indeed.

Appearing in the third of the three rings of this circus (and never has such a comparison been more accurate) on Tues., Feb. 28 is Riff Raff, a person who, until very recently, I believed to be some kind of fake reality-show rapper, but now know is an actual rapper (I guess?) who was once on a possibly fake reality show (From G’s to Gents), which is not at all the same thing. His claims to fame—other than that reality-show stint—include teaming up with Dirt Nasty and Andy Milonakis to form rap group Three Loco, wearing way too much neon clothing, having questionable facial hair that is matched only by the dubiousness of his cornrows, sporting a Worldstarhiphop tattoo, and claiming he was going to sue the makers of the movie Spring Breakers for ripping off his life story. He raps too, but I’m not at all sure that’s the real draw here. In other words, you’ll want to buy your tickets because if this show is not sold out already, it will be soon.

Perhaps by now you’ve figured out which of these shows were booked with a musical mandate in mind, and which was booked for the sheer hell of it. Step right up and buy a ticket or two—because no one likes to miss a trip to the circus.

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