Saturday Night, Sunday Morning
Shotgun House Records
I love music that keeps me coming back, that makes me want to understand where it’s coming from, to see the recipe between my ears. Where are these guys coming from? What have they been getting up to? What made them concoct a sound like this? I remember the first time I put the needle on a Doug Sahm record, how I was transported to the Texas boarderlands, by way of Haight Ashbury. Sahm’s band, The Sir Douglas Qunitet, mixed the influences they heard around them in San Antonio, Texas, blending the local honky tonk and Chicano conjunto with rhythm and blues, rolling it all up and setting light to it. I took a deep breath, the sound was intoxicating.
DT Buffkin has a lot in common with Doug Sahm, including his home town, some of his fellow musicians, and his proclivity for melting cultural influences together in a way that would seem to be a hallmark of San Antone music. Augie Meyers, original founding member of The Sir Douglas Quintet, plays organ on the song Houston St. on Buffkin’s album, a gentle, rolling rumba that might conjure up thoughts of old Havana, possibly even Parisian boulevards, as much as it does south Texas. You can see Meyers playing organ with Buffkin on his righteous cover of the Sir Douglas Quintet hit She’s About a Mover, backed by Garrett T Capps on drums and Flaco Jimenez on accordion. Buffkin is label mates with Capps, both calling Shotgun House Records home. In fact, if you are lucky enough to own the excellent 7” version of Capps’s Born in San Antone, you will already have a DT Buffkin track on the other side.
Saturday Night, Sunday Morning is a slow-burner of an album. Allow yourself to wallow in these songs and you will soon find that they have crept inside your consciousness. It’s an album for the elegantly disheveled, for those who know what it is to have lost love, for the no-account boozers and the can’t-help-but losers. It’s an album for poets and dropouts, for smoky late nights and rainy-day mornings, for the coming down that probably wasn’t worth the going up, for those of us resigned to reaching for the bottle after the horse has bolted. If you want touchstones, you can take your pick, but, suffice it to say, not one of these artist sounds like DT Buffkin. They are all reference points I stumbled upon while trying to place Buffkin’s music: early Willie Nelson, The Shirells, Billie Holiday, Nashville Skyline-era Dylan, Howe Gelb, even Amy Winehouse, if she had been born male and in Texas. I guess you could argue that Charlie Crockett is a fair comparison from today, but, to these ears, Buffkin is making music that will weather the vagaries of time far better. This album is already timeless, where as Crockett’s latest sounds like it has been produces for today’s market. I know which album I’m more likely to return to in ten years.
Some reviews naturally take longer to write than others. Maybe this is down to struggling to find an in, a hook to hang it all on, the right words. Perhaps, you think, one more listen will help you do justice to the artist whose work you are toying with, one more spin to see what comes to mind this time. Saturday Night, Sunday Morning is a case in point. The subtlety of the playing, the world-weary lyrics, the soulful melancholy of the vocal delivery, the aching resignation at the core of every song, combine to produce an ethereal haze around the music that makes it difficult to recall when the album ends, in a way that bothers you until you play it again. There is much beauty here, and it is through the acceptance of life’s little tragedies that it is revealed.