“Oh give me a home where Donna the Buffalo roams“

Wow, that was bad. So sorry.

Be that as it may, Donna the Buffalo has a big show tonight at Empire Dine & Dance, and I’m in the throes of “I just discovered a really great band,” hence my reimaging of “Home on the Range.”

This week, I’m also making two suggestions for Friday night with Dan Knudsen at Strange Maine and a CD-release show from Dana Gross at One Longfellow Square. Have at it. 

If nothing else, I love the name Donna the Buffalo. However, after spending some time at www.donnathebuffalo.com, I realized that this band from Trumansburg, N.Y., is even cooler than its name. Here’s what I learned: “Donna the Buffalo’s eclectic and often socially conscious music has its base in traditional mountain music and is infused with elements of Cajun/zydeco, rock, folk, reggae, and country.

“The group’s core is vocalist Tara Nevins, who plays fiddle, guitar, accordion and scrub board, and guitarist Jeb Puryear. Keyboardist Dave McCracken, bassist Kyle Spark, and drummer Vic Stafford complete the ensemble.”

So there’s your background, and now here’s five random comments on the band, courtesy of 20 minutes spent at www.myspace.com/donnathebuffalo:

Nevins has a terrific voice.

“Locket and Key” is an entirely enjoyable song, so go listen to it.

I feel entirely late to the party upon learning that this fantastic band has been at it for 21 years.

I dig the lyrics to “No Place like the Right Time.” For example: “Sit and watch the tall grass grow/ I run and hide from the things I know/ Catch the dust up in my eye/ All is lookin’ different as the years go by.”

Puryear also sings, and he’s got a groovy voice, as evidenced in “Positive Friction.”

And what’s this? Caravan of Thieves is opening? They’re acoustic swing hipsters from Bridgeport, Conn., and after hearing their cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” at www.myspace.com/caravanofthieves, I knew this was a show I’d have to make a valiant effort to get to.

Donna the Buffalo with Caravan of Thieves. 9 tonight. Empire Dine & Dance, 575 Congress St., Portland. Ages 21 and older. $17 in advance; $20 at the door. www.portlandempire.com

Local singer-songwriter Dan Knudsen is something of a strange bird, but I mean that as a compliment. He moved to Portland from Illinois in 1998, and has since released eight albums of all-original music.

I read online that he’s got a cult following, and considering there’s a tribute album of his songs and an annual indoor music festival called Dan-a-Palooza, it’s apparently quite true.

I listened to seven of his songs, and the subject matter included, but was by no means limited to: birds, squirrels, bees, lightsabers, hyperspace, multi-legged freaks, nuns, revenge, the Bible, unexplained mysteries and cosmic forces.

Friday night’s Dan-a-Palooza is a gathering of local musicians who will all be playing his songs. And Knudsen will be playing his “Sunsong” album in its entirety in celebration of its 10-year anniversary.

Dan Knudsen. 8 p.m. Friday. Strange Maine, 578 Congress St., Portland. All Ages. Free. www.kraag.org/strange 

Dana Gross celebrates the release of his new 11-song album, “We Left the Roadside,” with a Friday-night show at One Longfellow Square in Portland. Do yourself a favor and listen to “Family Man” and “Matchsticks” at www.myspace.com/danagross.

Gross is influenced by Appalachian and Mississippi Delta music, and the old-time sound he creates with his voice and guitar is both stirring and inspired.

What’s more is that his live band consists of Vince Nez on fiddle, Jason Ingalls on drums/percussion, Todd Hutchisen (Baltic Sea) on pedal steel, Justin Wiley (Dreammosiac) on accordion/keys, Duane Edwards (Primo Cubano) on upright bass and Amos Libby (Okbari) on tabla.

Boston artist Dan Blakeslee will also be performing, and has just released his latest album, “Tatnic Tales.” Check him out at www.myspace.com/danblakeslee.

Opening the evening is In-Flight Safety from Halifax. Wow, that band’s quite good too. “Model Homes” and “Coast is Clear” are quite worthy of your ear at www.myspace.com/inflightsafety.

September Showcase featuring Dana Gross, Dan Blakeslee and In-Flight Safety. 7:30 p.m. Friday. One Longfellow Square, Portland. All ages. $10. 761-1757; www.onelongfellowsquare.com 

Aismel Ponti is a Portland freelance writer. Contact her at:

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