Grab some wings and beer, but leave the sports behind because country outlaw band Flying Buffaloes is a hoot. The band will soar into Chicago March 13 at Beat Kitchen (2100 W. Belmont Ave.) joined by fellow band Fargo and Kevin Presbrey to reunite with family and bring country back to the Midwest.
Flying Buffaloes is a nod to Johan Stone’s, one of three lead singers, guitar and keys, love of buffalo sauce, an array of flavors not customary in his native home of Germany. The buffalo sauce would always accompany a classic plate of Hooters wings during the band’s initial meetings.
During one of these meetings, Stone said, “What do buffaloes need to fly? … Wings. Maybe we’re just the Flying Buffaloes,” and the band name shortly followed.
The five-member band formed in late-2015 and consists of Stone, lead vocal, guitarist and pedal steelist Jordan Harazin, lead guitarist Tommy LeLand, lead vocal, drummer Danny Pratt and bassist Barry Stone. Flying Buffaloes released its first extended play (EP) “Taking Off” in 2017 and is set to release its first full-length album “Loaded & Rollin’” early this summer.
Before meetings at Hooters, the members connected through auditions and jam sessions in Nashville.
“Nashville is a town of young musicians, eager to meet and create something creative,” Stone said in a phone interview with The Phoenix. “Barry [Stone] and Danny [Pratt] were living together at the time, and I met Tommy … and it was magic. That is Nashville.”
While Nashville has become home to many of the members, Pratt, who grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin and lived in Chicago before moving to Nashville, said playing outside the Music City can be more exciting because the fans are more enthralled in the country music experience outside the city limits.
“Because country is so inundated in Nashville, it’s almost like you get to eat a steak dinner every night,” Pratt said. “On the road there is such a heavy level of appreciation for what we do, and just a genuine joy that comes from people watching live music.”
LeLand, who grew up in Geneva, Illinois about an hour west of Chicago, said playing in Chicago is always a homecoming show for a lot of the band because the members’ friends and families will come out to support them and their music.
The band found its voice in Nashville cultivating an era of modern takes on outlaw country themes and rock riffs. Flying Buffaloes isn’t afraid to speak on controversial topics, such as immigration, weed and casual relationships, through its music and interviews. The tracks convey the truth behind these issues, while intertwining the familiarity and story-telling of country music.
Speaking to all generations, Flying Buffaloes’ appeal extends to progressive millennials and more conservative, nostalgic older generations, according to LeLand. Flying Buffaloes is a breath of fresh air in the country music scene.
Stone said the band’s upcoming album, “Loaded & Rollin’,” uses his experiences as a German immigrant and the separation the band faced because of U.S. immigration policies to inspire songs, such as “Lady Liberty.” “Lady Liberty” has piercing lyrics which pull at the heartstrings and speaks to voting urgency of Americans singing, “They took a baby from her hand on the way to the promised land … They threw it in a cage, faces full of rage and agony.”
Flying Buffaloes worked through a long-distance relationship for around a year while Stone returned to Germany to resolve his status within the U.S. Upon his return, he married the love of his life and, possibly more importantly, the band. Stone has since received permanent residency and no longer must rely on a visa.
“That was a really, really, really dark time when he had to leave because we enjoyed playing with each other so much,” Pratt said. “It was hard to get anything going. But ever since he’s been back, which has been a while now, it’s been full speed ahead”
The band made waves opening for red dirt country artist Wade Bowen during his 2018 Texas tour. While experiencing the thrills of the road, Flying Buffaloes always looks to bring a presence to the stage reminiscent of the Rolling Stones and Queen, with the vibrance of the South and Nashville, according to LeLand.
As the band heads to Chicago, Flying Buffaloes will incorporate influences of rock-and-roll and southern comfort with songs from its EP “Taking Off,” new songs off the upcoming album “Loaded & Rollin’” and covers.
The show will likely display the camaraderie and love among the members. Flying Buffaloes has experienced many things together on the road and those awe-striking moments bring the band together.
“Those special moments are happening all the time,” LeLand said. “But the chemistry that makes a band great, I’ve only experienced it with these guys, the Flying Buffaloes. … It’s like we’re married to each other. We see a life together.”
Flying Buffaloes is scheduled to perform at Beat Kitchen March 13 with songs and performances described as “one bring[ing] the wings and the other the sauce.” Tickets can be purchased for $10 and doors open at 7 p.m.