Heard of Buffalo performs from Jamestown to Lewiston, but the majority of concerts are held in the Southtowns. The artists they cover include Bare Naked Ladies, Eric Clapton, Collective Soul, The Doors, Foo Fighters, Mumford and Sons, and much more.
If you haven’t Heard of Buffalo, you better listen up.
For nearly a decade, Heard of Buffalo has been rocking Western New York with its unique twist on popular tunes.
While most established bands tend to shy away from covers in favor of original music, the four-man band is happy to play the gamut of rock and folk music, from Neil Young to Neil Diamond.
“We approach popular music from the 1960s to the present, with a slant towards acoustic,” said Phil Conroy, the band’s bassist.
The rest of the band includes Randy Milligan on guitar/vocals, Michael Skowronski on guitar/vocals and Rick Schmitt on drums.
Still, Heard of Buffalo should not be underestimated as a run-of-the-mill cover band.
“We play the songs that other bands don’t,” said Schmitt. “You don’t come out and hear “Margaritaville” and “Brown Eyed Girl” like you do with every other band.”
Instead, concert goers will be treated to lesser known Beatles and Bob Dylan songs, such as “Norwegian Wood” and “I Shall Be Released.”
Heard of Buffalo also makes sure that they don’t just cover a song, they make it their own.
“We feed it through the ‘Heard of Buffalo blender,’” Conroy said.
Schmitt agreed. “You are going to know what the song is because you have heard it on the radio, but you are going to hear it with our own twist,” he said.
Their personal feelings play into how they deliver their music as well.
“You have to be emotional and believe what you are singing,” said Skowronski, who added he doesn’t just play a song, he “presents” it. He said that each time they play a song, it is slightly different based on the emotions the band members are experiencing.
Heard of Buffalo came to be what it is today by coincidences and strokes of luck. Milligan and Skowronski were the first to join forces. At first, the two guitar players were fans of one another, going out of their way to see each other’s gigs. Then one night, Skowronski joined Milligan on stage during a concert. Though it was the first time they ever played together, a woman stepped out of the crowd and hired both of them on the spot to play her upcoming New Year’s Eve party.
“She thought we were a band already,” Skowronski said. The two have been playing together ever since.
Milligan and Skowronski break off into a jam.
Schmitt was the next to join, having first heard Milligan and Skowronski play together in an Amherst Wegmans.
“They just blew me away,” Schmitt said. He came to their next few concerts, admitting to them that he was a drummer.
“A couple weeks later they asked me if I thought we could but a band together,” said Schmitt. “I said, ‘Yeah, let’s try it.’”
For a while, Heard of Buffalo played as a trio. Then Conroy walked into one of the band’s concerts at a bar in Silver Creek. Skowronski and Milligan recognized Conroy, both having jammed with him separately over the years.
“I said, ‘Do you have a bass with you?’” Skowronski recalled. “Phil played the whole night with us and joined the band right there.”
The four members have a true friendship and respect for one another’s talents and tastes. Each man has a different preference for music: Conroy likes metal, Schmitt prefers ‘80s rock and Milligan and Skowronski veer towards the singer/songwriter style of music. Yet each band mate embraces one another’s style, and try to add a little flavor from every genre into their set list.
“We’ve learned how to listen to each other and appreciate what each person brings in,” Conroy said.
One of Heard of Buffalo’s most memorable gigs was playing the first annual Rockin’ the Roundabout on New Year’s Eve in the Village of Hamburg.
“We expected a big crowd, but we were blown away,” said Schmitt.
They also loved playing Freedom Fest at Fireman’s Park in Blasdell to a crowd of over 15,000 people. “It was our rock star moment,” Schmitt said.
Still, life in a band is not always easy. The four members each have personal lives and careers outside of Heard of Buffalo.
“There have been times we have all wanted to walk,” Skowronski said. But those moments are only temporary.
“It blows over, and you remember why you’re a part of this. It’s what you believe in,” said Conroy. “We are four musicians who really believe in music.”
While most of the members have released their own music, the foursome have yet to make an album together. They are hoping to set aside time in the near future to produce a CD.
In the meantime, Milligan and Skowronski play as a duo every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Romanello’s South in Hamburg. As a full band, Heard of Buffalo is scheduled to play at Buffalo Street Grill in Hamburg on Wednesday, Sept. 19 and at J&M’s West End Inn on Thursday, Sept. 20.
For a complete list of concert listings, visit the band’s website at www.heardofbuffalo.com.