Americana artist Jake Smith, aka, White Buffalo, takes the stage at House of Blues Thursday night.
The White Buffalo and Jake Smith are one. It’s not an alter ego so much as a nickname that stuck. When he calls the Reader from his home in Los Angeles, I ask him about his attraction to the Raymond Carver-esque characters that muck up their lives in his songs. Like me, is he secretly afraid he might end up like them? Smith chuckles. “No, I just like the shadowy parts of life. Some of my songs are pure fantasy, and some are autobiographical,” he says. Then, “We’re always a couple of bad decisions away from being in a bad place.” He speaks softly, with clearheaded force. “There’s a lot of emotion in making bad decisions. And it always,” he says, “makes for something more interesting.”
"I Got You"
...from White Buffalo's latest, Love and Death of Damnation
Jake Smith bootlegged his way to the top — so to speak. A tape of some of White Buffalo’s music was given to a pro surfer named Chris Malloy. He liked what he heard and used a track in the soundtrack of Shelter, a surf flick. After which, music supervisors hooked up Smith with scoring gigs for series such as Californication and Sons of Anarchy.
- Thursday, December 10, 2015, 7 p.m.
House of Blues,
1055 Fifth Avenue,
$20 - $35
The new album, Love and the Death of Damnation, Smith says, is more rounded than his work has been in the past. “Some of the songs are on the lighter side, which is kind of new for me. Love, light, and all that.” He says his songs are visual, like little movies. Is there a lot of rewriting in his process? “Yeah. I want every word to mean something. I’m not just trying to rhyme shit. Am I ever gonna write a novel? No. I don’t know how to do anything else but write music.” The minute I asked the question, I realized with chagrin that it was both inane and prejudicial. After all, I’d guess nobody ever asked the novelist Raymond Carver to write a song.
Rose’s Pawn Shop also performs.