Here’s my quick description of the video to follow: Burly, long-haired and bearded man dances frantically in front of a tattered, wood-paneled wall. That’s not exactly selling you? Please, give it two-and-a-half minutes, I’m confident you won’t be disappointed.
This is Jake Smith, a singer/songwriter performing for roughly 16 years under the moniker The White Buffalo. He’s 43, born in Oregon, raised in southern California, and grew up listening to country music and punk rock. He’s made five albums, the latest being 2017’s Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights, and his music has gained some notoriety by its placements in two TV series: Sons of Anarchy (which I’ve never seen) and Californication (a show I goddamn adore).
Without question, though, any description of The White Buffalo must begin with his voice, a hefty, throaty baritone that can seemingly be heard for miles. You’ll be forgiven if when this tune begins you think it’s Eddie Vedder, but I think the closer relation overall is to Woodstock Festival opener and famed ‘Freedom’ singer, Richie Havens.
And so, the song: ‘Modern Times,’ from his 2015 record Love & The Death of Damnation. I love it. It’s pulsing, catchy and terrific. But, I’ve now seriously buried the lede. The dancing is what we came here for. Let me not try to describe the big guy’s moves, but just – as it’s said in sports, “he leaves it all out there.” When he’s bent over exhausted at the video’s end I truly don’t believe he’s acting.