Dry Island Buffalo Jump Charity Concert

Blog written by Dr James Palmer

dryislandbuffalojumpDry Island Buffalo Jump, the medievalists’ band, will play at the Byre Theatre on Tuesday 26 April to raise money for the University of St Andrews Charities Campaign.

The band formed in 2009 around the song-writing talents of South Carolinan Donovan MacAbee, supported by Chris Jones (English/ bass/ songs), Dave Evans (French/ stringed things), and James Palmer (History/ drums/ fifth guitar). They are named after the band that Alex Woolf wanted to form as a teenager, which means his dream band exists but he is not in it. Their music has been described as ‘alt-folk-country-Americana with a Fife twist’ and ‘better than you would imagine’.

MacAbee soon left the band for Nashville. This left a gap so big the band recruited two further bands’ worth of musicians to replace him: Chris Given-Wilson (History/ guitar/ Dylan impersonations), Simon MacLean (History/ cello/ mando), Norman Reid (Special Collections/ flute), Bill Shackman (guitar/ modified mandola/ chill), Pete Kushner (keys), Andy Murphy (English/ bass) and Cassandra Steele (vocals). This makes it harder to find a venue that would fit the band than one that would fit the audience.

A series of local gigs won DIBJ national media coverage, culminating in an appearance on BBC Radio Scotland to field questions about the extent to which the band represented a collective midlife crisis. (It doesn’t). Highlights of their performing career have included playing at the royal wedding (or at least in the quad) and graduation ball three times. (The first time so that Donovan could be a rock star at his own graduation) The band have recorded a number of singles, including ‘Credit Crunch Song’, ‘Girl from Muskoka’, and, for the university’s 600th anniversary, ‘Old Grey Toun’. You can even buy them on iTunes. Any profits they make go to a student hardship fund or other charities.


Photo attrib. Dry Island Buffalo Jump, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

The gig at the Byre will be their largest to date. DIBJ will play many of their trademark songs, from the autobiographical ‘Fife Cowboy’ to ‘Wagon Wheel’, via an ill-advised cover version of a Taylor Swift song. They have been practicing their banter. There will be fun and surprises (some even intentional).


About standrewshistory
With over forty fulltime members of staff researching and teaching on European, American and Asian history from the dawn of the Middle Ages to the present day, the School of History at the University of St Andrews has one of the finest faculty and diverse teaching programmes of any School of History in the English speaking world. The School boasts expertise in Mediaeval and Modern History, from Scotland to Byzantium and the Americas to South Asia. Thematic interests include religious history, urban history, transnationalism, historiography and nationalism. The School of History prides itself on small group teaching, allowing for in-depth study and supervision tailored to secure the best from each student. Cutting edge research combined with teaching excellence offer a dynamic and intellectually stimulating environment for the study of History.

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