Buckskin Bible Review 

No shirt, no shoes, no problem

When these guys take the stage, there are two barefooted bandsmen, one tie-dyed shirt, a pair of bright red sunglasses and a swift kick in the crowd's energy level as subtle anticipation has become palpable excitement. The guitar gets an adjustment after a few quick chords, the drums tap out a swift rhythm and then Buckskin Bible Review jets off into music mayhem that is nothing less than an intravenous injection of straight soul.

A loyal crowd-one of impressive size given that the band's longevity is still counted in months rather than years-immediately gets to work with finger tapping that's in sync with the drummer's barefooted stomping. Just a dozen measures into the first song and the imagined space between band and fan disappears into the ether where it retires for the night and leaves us feeling like a group of close friends to some very talented musicians.

Buckskin's collective personality is as dynamic off-stage as it is endearing on-stage. Get all five of them together and the interviewer is likely to become the interviewee as the group fires off a series of its own inquiries before one can even begin to ask the question "How'd you get your name?"

Leaving the question of the band's moniker behind, they launch into a bit of schizophrenia when tasked to describe their sound in five words or less. Fiddle player Tony Lemmon debates over their classification as jazzy. Bassist Matt Steiner and mandolin player Scott Tyler quickly realize each band member can contribute one word to the description and the words "dirty, rotten ..." are heard breaking into laughter. Acoustic guitarist Jay Nelson and drummer Rick Schodeen search for a more serious sketch, suggesting bluegrass and folk, until Schodeen has a moment of genius and concocts "gypsy-jazz-swing." Lemmon begins persuading the group that country western is an apt adjective and spurns a discussion on types of musical genres complete with charades and imitations of various instruments.

In the end, a consensus on sound only requires three words: Western sage grass. It's an answer with only a shade of seriousness, one that betrays the band members' uncertainty of exactly what they are, but it's an accurate reflection of what fans already know:Buckskin forges its own path.

Few bands would be able to pull off convincing covers of Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" tucked in beside Rachel Portman's "Minor Swing" from the movie Chocolat. Even fewer bands have musicians willing to trade instruments. When fiddler Lemmon and mandolin player Tyler exchange strings for a "very experimental" talent showcase, fans call out jests regarding the legality of such action until the duo silences them with some pretty spectacular strumming.

It's that bit of jocular stage presence between the musical moments that emerges when the group becomes a couple of guys talking about their music. No one speaks on behalf of the band. They all talk at once, offering up what they have to contribute as individuals and then fuse it into what they represent as a whole. How would they tweak that whole given the opportunity to play with any musician alive or dead?

Schodeen nominates Elvis. Lemmon agrees. Steiner dissents. There's talk of Stevie Ray Vaughn, a hammond organ player, perhaps an electric guitarist or a banjo player.

"We need someone who can fit and merge all of our styles," opines Lemmon. James Brown gets an unenthusiastic approval while someone else mentions Emmylou Harris. Eventually the answer they agree upon is the most obvious conclusion. The sound and the vibe that's evolved to become Buckskin is like peas and carrots; they wouldn't add anyone else to the lineup at all.

Thus far, word of mouth has served as the band's publicity manager, landing them regular gigs at Common Ground Café in McCall and Sockeye Grill and Brewery in Boise. The band is working on a CD, knowing that a demo will boost bookings as people are introduced to their sound.

Mandolin player Tyler, who made his mandolin, is producing the EP. Recently the band headed out to Tyler's family orchard in Emmett, commandeered an office, turned it into what Tyler describes as a "really redneck" studio, and began recording. Though it's still untitled, expect to see a demo near the end of October.

And though Lemmon laughingly proclaims Nelson's North End home as his favorite venue (due to its close proximity to the Hollywood Market) Buckskin has at least two big shows on the roster in the next few weeks. They'll be introducing the folks in McCall to their "Western sage grass" at the Brundage Mountain Festival on August 27 and taking the stage at home for the Hyde Park Street Fair on September 16. Unless you're lucky enough to catch them at a private gig, keep your eye on Boise Weekly's music guide for the sans-shoes smaller shows around town and get yourself on the band's email list by signing up for BBR's e-newsletter at a show.

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