What is the name of your group?
The Buffalo Folk Heroes
Andrew: (Featuring the Legendary Katie Panfil)
How did the name of the band come about? When did it form?
Mark Iris: A few years ago when Evan came back from one of his journeys, he started a band called Free Burma Folk Heroes which purposed itself to help raise awareness and money for Burma. In my own music, I’ve raised money for charity through record sales. All of the musicians in BFH have been friends for ages and watched each other grow, and the principle of using our gifts to help others has remained prevalent throughout all of our careers. So I was thinking one night, why don’t we create a compilation album of great folk artists in Buffalo and use it to raise money for local Buffalo charities and organizations? I ran the idea past Evan who was instrumental in bringing the project to fruition. A few months later The Buffalo Folk Heroes had finished their first album.
Where are you from originally? If not from Buffalo, why are you here?
Andrew: Buffalo NY!
Mark Iris: Buffalo, NY
Evan Thompson: Cincinnati OH, … I was called to Buffalo when I was 14.
What’s it like to perform in front of a crowd? Give me three words.
Evan: Fun, Scary, Fulfilling
Mark Iris: Accidental time travel.
Andrew: Orgasmic Ego Trip
When and why did you start playing?
Evan: When I was 20 years old. I was sick and didn’t leave my room much, there was a guitar in the room.
Mark Iris: I picked up a buddies guitar when I was 17 and started playing an A chord and singing nonsense, about the Dad from Full House or something… When the room grew quiet again a feeling of relaxed awareness lingered…like after a long journaling session or a deep tissue massage by a think-knuckled swedish guy named Cecil.
Andrew: I’ve been singing my whole life, but I’ve always had an overwhelming desire to write my own songs. I taught myself to play the guitar and started writing songs that I would want to hear. Luckily for me, other people seem to want to hear them too.
What was the first tune that you remember “really” playing well, when you knew that you would be a musician?
Evan: “Hide your love away”
Mark Iris: “The Only Living Boy in New York” Simon & Garfunkel
Andrew: “Nightclub” by The Old 97’s
Describe your voice/instrument.
Mark Iris: Fleeting and elusive.
Andrew: My voice was once described in an article as “ the sound of a honey over cigarettes” That’s about as close as anyone has ever gotten and I still don’t even know what it means.
Evan: I would say my style is mostly storytelling. My bigger influences are Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Sublime, The Decemberists, Nirvana and the Doors.
Mark Iris: Self-reflective, mainly about personal evolution/awareness. Vic Chesnutt, L.Cohen, Lennon/Beatles, Bob Dylan.
Andrew: Country-Punk. It’s quite the extravaganza ……
Did music come naturally to you? Or were you driven to learn and play/sing? What sparked the passion? Do you come from a musical family?
Evan: My grandfather is a professional guitarist and my other grandfather a professional trumpetist. Still doesn’t come naturally to me.
Mark Iris: Came naturally, after sucking for about 10 years.
Andrew: Ditto to what Mark said.
Are you schooled in music? From where?
Evan: I am not schooled in music, just pick it up as I go.
Andrew: My background is whatever the opposite of “schooled in music” is.
Which famous musician(s) do you admire?
Evan: I really admire Colin Meloy, the lead singer of the Decemberists. His voice is different than most and his lyrics are extremely poetic and vivid.
Mark Iris: I admire Vic Chesnutt the most because out of everyone I’ve ever heard play, he was most able to touch upon the frailties and triumphs of the fragmented interconnection of the human condition without confiding in the shelters of ego.
Where is your favorite place to play/sing in Buffalo? Where would you most like to play/sing in Buffalo?
Evan: Sportsmen’s Tavern is my favorite place to play, it creates a perfect environment for people who really want to listen to the music. That is why we chose it for our album release party.
Andrew: Agreed. Sportsmen’s Tavern has a built in listening crowd. A lot of venues get big crowds but there’s this endless noise of conversation while artists are performing, where as Sportsmen’s patrons are there because they appreciate the music and the people performing it.
What’s your day job?
Evan: I am a Teacher and a Server.
Mark Iris: I work in software and as a barker for existential carnival rides.
Andrew: Inbound Sales for an International Safety Products company……..Rock ‘n Roll.
Evan: The best show I ever saw was Rage Against the Machine in San Francisco. The energy was amazing and Zach just controlled the audience. He could have told us to do anything, and we would have.
Andrew: The last show I caught was Drive By Truckers / The Old 97’s at Town Ballroom . Those bands are always great. It’s so hard to choose the best show, there are a lot to choose from but the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “Comin’ out of their shells” Tour at the Aud was pretty rad.
Do you play/sing covers or all originals? Ar a combination of both?
Evan: A combination of both, I try to mostly play originals but its good to get the crowd going with a good cover every now and then.
Mark Iris: Same. If I do a cover, I like to fuck it up a bit with some of my own modifications. The type that make your ear turn a little.
Andrew: I’ll sometimes add a couple of covers to my set, but usually people don’t know the original song . I’m not playing Wagon Wheel or anything.
If you could play/sing for one famous person (alive or dead), who would that be?
Evan: Dave Grohl
Andrew: No one “famous”. I wish I could play for my grandma. I used to play guitar and sing for her when I first started learning and I still feel bad about putting her through that, although she was always really supportive.
Mark Iris: No one famous, rather a small group of people in my living room with a lot of wine.
If you could play/sing with one famous band (any time in history), what would that band be?
Mark Iris: The Buffalo Folk Heroes
Andrew: Elvis Presley and his band in the mid-fifties
What are your strengths?
Mark Iris: An endless libido.
Andrew: My Calves/Quads. I walk a lot.
What are your weaknesses?
Evan: Guitar playing
Mark Iris: An endless libido.
Andrew: Being a Buffalo Bills Fan.
Do you have a label? A recording studio? Have you recorded a CD?
Evan: No label, we just finished our first Buffalo Folk Heroes album. 85.7142857% of it was recorded with Mike Zeis at Shabbey Road Studio.
Mark Iris: The two songs I’ve contributed were written and produced in my home studio in Portland, Oregon.
Where and when is your next gig(s) in the city?
Our Album Release show is November 30th at The Sportsmen’s Tavern. 9pm Start, $7
The Buffalo Folk Heroes is simply a group of friends and songwriters who wanted to make a folk album together to share our individual experiences, and we want to use this group as a platform to mentor young local songwriters – the future Buffalo Folk Heroes among us. As part of the event, instrument donations will be collected for Music is Art in exchange for a free Buffalo Folk Heroes CD. For more information about the Buffalo Folk Heroes, visit www.facebook.com/buffalofolkheroes.
Also check out our other projects:
Second Trip (facebook.com/secondtrip)
The Country-Punk Extravaganza! (facebook.com/cpxbuffalo)
The Free Burma
The Albrights (thealbrightsband.com)
Mark Iris (www.markiris.com)
Erie Lackawanna Railroad Band
See more Sounds of Buffalo:
If you play in a group/band (or solo) here in Buffalo, and have an upcoming gig at a venue(s) in the city, consider sending buffalo rising an email requesting to be emailed a Q&A interview that we can then post, along with concert dates. It’s a fun and easy way to get your name in front of another audience that is interested in learning about the local music scene. The requirements are: