Red Light Management

The White Buffalo

Artist Bio

“I’ve always taken great pleasure in being difficult to categorize,” says the White Buffalo’s big-voiced frontman, Jake Smith. Since releasing his first album in 2002, Smith has explored the grey area between genres, carving out a sound rooted in dark folk, countrified soul, cinematic storytelling and roadhouse-worthy rock. He keeps things unclassifiable on the White Buffalo’s sixth album, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights, the most hard-hitting, electrified album of his career.

Although recorded in Smith’s hometown of Los Angeles, where he grew up listening to the country twang of George Jones and the pissed-off punk of Bad Religion, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights looks to the passion and punch of The White Buffalo’s live shows for inspiration. Smith has been a road warrior for more than a decade, doubling as his own tour manager along the way. Gig after gig, he’s built a cult following without major label support, boosting his band’s international visibility with more than a dozen TV-worthy songs — including the Emmy-nominated “Come Join the Murder” — that were featured on shows like Sons of Anarchy and Californication.

“I’m kind of an island,” he says proudly. “We tour on our own and have built our own fanbase, so the idea with this album was to capture that live feel — the passion that we produce in a stage setting — in a studio performance.”

Island or not, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights finds Smith reaching far beyond his own experience for a string of detailed, character-driven songs. Many of these tunes explore the gloomy, dangerous corners of America, spinning stories of sinners, crooks, bad decisions and broken hearts. On “Border Town/Bury Me in Baja,” a drug dealer awaits his death at the hands of the Mexican mafia. “Avalon,” a desperate, driving anthem worthy of Bruce Springsteen, finds its protagonist “wishing he could flip a switch [and] turn his life around.” “Nightstalker Blues” — an amped-up blast of harmonica-filled, guitar-fueled roots rock — revolves around the story of serial killer Richard Ramirez, whose murder spree haunted southern California during the mid-Eighties.

As the album’s own title promises, though, this is a record about balance. A record about life’s downs and ups. “I wanted to hit all the emotional spots,” explains Smith, whose voice — a booming, rumbling baritone, with a slight quaver that can sound ominous one minute and warmhearted the next — takes a tender turn during love songs like “Observatory” and “If I Lost My Eyes.”

Together, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights offers up the White Buffalo’s strongest material to date, doubling down on Smith’s strengths while pushing his sound into new territory. Stripped-down folk. Electrified swamp-soul. Heartland rock. Bluesy boogie-woogie. It’s all here, tied together by the super-sized vocals and articulate songwriting of a bandleader whose work is sometimes moody, sometimes menacing, but always melodic.

“My hope is that this album will touch people,” he says. “Make people feel. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The darkest darks, and the lightest lights.”

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Tour Dates

Feb 21 2019
The Siren
Morro Bay, CA
Feb 22 2019
Temblor Brewing Company
Bakersfield, California
Feb 23 2019
Fresno, CA
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Mar 09 2019
Field Trip Fest - Reata Park and Event Center
San Juan Capistrano, CA
Mar 14 2019
Capital Ballroom
Victoria, Canada
Mar 16 2019
Imperial Theatre
Vancouver, Canada
Mar 18 2019
Bo's Bar & Grill
Red Deer, Canada
Mar 19 2019
Marquee Beer Market
Calgary, Canada
Mar 21 2019
The Starlite Room
Edmonton, Canada
Mar 22 2019
Broadway Theatre
Saskatoon, Canada
Mar 23 2019
The Garrick
Winnipeg, Canada
Mar 25 2019
London Music Hall
London, Canada
Mar 26 2019
L3 Nightclub
St. Catharines, Canada
Mar 28 2019
Danforth Music Hall
Toronto, Canada
Mar 29 2019
Montréal, Canada
Jul 11 2019
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Jul 12 2019
Nijmegen, Netherlands
Jul 14 2019
Bospop '19: 12 - 14 juli
Weert, Netherlands
Jul 16 2019
Sesto San Giovanni, Italy