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The Buffalo Club

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The Buffalo Club
A black-and-white promotional image of the band The Buffalo Club
The Buffalo Club promotional picture. Left to right: Ron Hemby, John Dittrich, Charlie Kelley
Background information
OriginNashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Years active1996–1997
LabelsRising Tide
Spinoff of
Past members
  • Ron Hemby
  • John Dittrich
  • Charlie Kelley

The Buffalo Club was an American country music group from Nashville, Tennessee. The group's members were Ron Hemby (lead vocals, guitar), John Dittrich (vocals, drums), and Charlie Kelley (vocals, guitar). Hemby was a vocalist in the Christian group The Imperials, Kelley played guitar for Doug Stone, and Dittrich had left his role as the drummer in the band Restless Heart. The Buffalo Club released a self-titled album on the Rising Tide Records label in 1997 and charted three singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts that year, including "If She Don't Love You" at number nine. The album received generally positive reviews for the band's use of vocal harmony, with many critics comparing their sound favorably to the Eagles. After Dittrich quit in August 1997, Hemby and Kelley briefly continued as a duo before disbanding by year's end. Dittrich rejoined Restless Heart in 1998, while Kelley and Hemby started other projects.





The Buffalo Club was founded in 1996 in Nashville, Tennessee, by John Dittrich, best known as the drummer for the country music band Restless Heart, along with Ron Hemby and Charlie Kelley.[1] After Restless Heart disbanded in 1995,[2][3] Dittrich wanted to start a musical act in which he got to exercise more creative control than he had in that band, but did not feel he was suitable as a solo artist.[3] He then met Hemby, a vocalist for the contemporary Christian music group The Imperials, and the two recruited Kelley, who had previously been a backing musician for Charly McClain and Doug Stone. Hemby assumed the role of lead vocalist. Both Kelley and Dittrich served as harmony vocalists, also contributing on guitar and drums respectively.[4] Working with Dan Goodman as their manager, the three musicians recorded a demo which was sent to Ken Levitan, then president of Rising Tide Records. The label's Nashville division, dedicated to country music, signed the band soon after.[5] Hemby and Dittrich said their main influence was the country rock of the 1970s, such as the Eagles, particularly in the use of vocal harmony and acoustic guitar. Kelley thought that the band's sound would be appealing to radio as they intended to use fewer instruments on the songs than were normal at the time.[4] Hemby thought that the band's sound would have "more aggressive harmony".[3]

Initially, the group was to be called Johnny Ringo, but was renamed as representatives of Rising Tide disliked the original name.[5] According to Hemby, the band wanted a name with a Western theme, and came up with "the Buffalo Club" after a friend of his told him about a group of bars in the town of Buffalo, Wyoming.[4][6] After signing, the band began recording songs with producer Barry Beckett. Dittrich had previously worked with Beckett on a movie soundtrack to which Restless Heart had contributed, and chose him to be the Buffalo Club's producer because he "admired" Beckett's production style. Additionally, Hemby noted that Beckett was less controlling than other producers with whom he had worked previously.[3] By the end of 1996, the band began promoting themselves with impromptu acoustic performances in the offices of Nashville record executives.[4]

Self-titled album


Rising Tide Records selected "If She Don't Love You" as the band's first single. Upon its release to country radio in early 1997, the track reached number nine on the American Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and number twelve on the Canadian country music charts then published by RPM.[7][1] This song had been previously offered to Restless Heart, who declined it.[3][8] Its co-writers were Trey Bruce and Marc Beeson, the latter of whom was recording on Curb Records as a member of Burnin' Daylight.[3] Joel Hoffner, then the vice president of sales and marketing for Rising Tide Records, came up with two unusual methods to promote the band. First, he sent packages containing plastic buffalo in them, with no return address, to various industry executives before sending those same executives a promotional card for the band one week later.[4] Hoffner observed that the plastic buffalo became a topic of conversation among said executives. In addition, the compact disc single release of "If She Don't Love You" featured the song on it 20 times so that the song would continue playing if listeners neglected to turn off their players.[4]

The band's debut album, The Buffalo Club, was released on March 25, 1997.[9] Beckett produced the album and played keyboards on it, with other contributing musicians including Eddie Bayers and Michael Rhodes. Dittrich co-wrote the track "The Funny Thing Is", and Hemby co-wrote "Wish for You".[10] An uncredited review of the album in Billboard compared the band's sound favorably to that of the Eagles while also praising the songwriting.[11] Gordon Ely of the Richmond Times-Dispatch also reviewed the album with favor, drawing comparisons to the Eagles, Restless Heart, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. His review was favorable toward the album's songwriting and the trio's vocal harmony.[12] Robert Loy of Country Standard Time gave a more mixed review, stating that "the harmonies are above average, and Ron Hemby's vocals deserve better material than anything here".[8] In mid-1997, the band supported the album by touring alongside Sherrié Austin as opening acts for Tracy Lawrence.[12] They also performed several shows at Toolies, a former nightclub in Phoenix, Arizona.[4]

Following "If She Don't Love You" was "Nothin' Less Than Love", which was co-written by Rusty Young of Poco and originally recorded by Bryan White on his 1994 self-titled debut album. The Buffalo Club's rendition peaked at number 26 on Hot Country Songs by the middle of the year.[1][13] Dittrich left the band in August 1997, stating in a letter of resignation, "I am no longer able to continue to do the things deemed necessary to break a new artist in this format".[14] At the time of his resignation, Hemby and Kelley announced their intent to continue as a duo.[15] The Buffalo Club then released their third and final single "Heart Hold On". Co-written by Blackhawk lead singer Henry Paul, this song peaked at number 53 on the country music charts.[1] The song's corresponding music video was the directorial debut of Trey Fanjoy, who went on to direct a number of country music videos in the late 1990s and into the 21st century.[16]



Hemby and Kelley disbanded in December 1997.[17] In addition, Rising Tide Records closed in March 1998,[18] with the Buffalo Club representing the label's only success at country radio.[19] At the time of their disbanding, Rising Tide executive Ken Levitan stated that Dittrich's announcement that he would rejoin Restless Heart on a reunion tour in 1998 created disputes between the two of them and was a factor in Dittrich's departure. In addition, Hemby and Kelley were unable to continue as a duo because Hemby wanted to be the sole lead singer, whereas Kelley wanted the two to alternate on lead vocals.[20] Dittrich rejoined Restless Heart in 1998 as part of the reunion tour.[2] By 2013, Kelley founded the polka duo the Boxhounds with Lynn Marie.[21] Hemby went on to become a touring musician for David Kersh before becoming a worship leader at a church in Franklin, Tennessee, in addition to founding an Eagles tribute band called the Eaglemaniacs.[22]



Studio albums

Title Album details Peak chart
US Country[23]
The Buffalo Club 69


Title Year Peak chart
US Country[1] CAN Country[7]
"If She Don't Love You" 1997 9 12 The Buffalo Club
"Nothin' Less Than Love" 26 42
"Heart Hold On" 53 77

Music videos

Title Year Director
"Heart Hold On"[16] 1997 Trey Fanjoy


  1. ^ a b c d e Joel Whitburn (2017). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2017. Record Research, Inc. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-89820-229-8.
  2. ^ a b Steve Huey. "Restless Heart biography". AllMusic. Archived from the original on August 14, 2023. Retrieved April 30, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "New artist fact file" (PDF). Radio & Records: 55. January 24, 1997. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 14, 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Deborah Evans Price (February 1, 1997). "Rising Tide Corrals Support For Buffalo Club's Debut" (PDF). Billboard. pp. 31, 36. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 14, 2023.
  5. ^ a b "The Buffalo Club biography". AllMusic. Archived from the original on August 14, 2023. Retrieved May 25, 2022.
  6. ^ "Country music memo". The Index Journal. May 11, 1997. pp. 3C. Retrieved April 30, 2022.
  7. ^ a b Peak positions:
  8. ^ a b Robert Loy. "The Buffalo Club - The Buffalo Club". Country Standard Time. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved November 8, 2008.
  9. ^ "The Buffalo Club". AllMusic. Archived from the original on August 14, 2023. Retrieved May 25, 2022.
  10. ^ The Buffalo Club (1997). The Buffalo Club (Media notes). Rising Tide Records. 53044.
  11. ^ Paul Verna, ed. (April 12, 1997). "Reviews & Previews: Albums" (PDF). Billboard. p. 65. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 14, 2023.
  12. ^ a b Gordon Ely (October 12, 1997). "Lawrence's two opening acts put out worthy first albums". Richmond Times-Dispatch. pp. H6. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  13. ^ "Bryan White". AllMusic. Archived from the original on August 14, 2023. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  14. ^ "Dittrich leaves Club" (PDF). Radio & Records: 68. September 12, 1997. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 14, 2023.
  15. ^ "Nashville Scene" (PDF). Billboard. September 20, 1997. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 14, 2023. Retrieved November 8, 2008.
  16. ^ a b Lisa Young (June 12, 2003). "They come straight to her: Video director Trey Fanjoy helms clips for Lonestar, Gilman". CMT. Archived from the original on August 14, 2023. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  17. ^ Kimmy Wix (December 29, 1997). "1997 at a country glance". CMT. Archived from the original on April 10, 2013. Retrieved November 8, 2008.
  18. ^ Chet Flippo (March 21, 1998). "Universal Closes Rising Tide" (PDF). Billboard. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 15, 2023. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
  19. ^ Brad Schmitt (December 13, 1997). "Buffalo Club is splitting". The Tennessean. pp. 3A. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  20. ^ Brad Schmitt (December 15, 1997). "Ego, fighting were downfall of Buffalo Club". The Tennessean. pp. 3A. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  21. ^ Francis Petruziello (December 19, 2008). "Nan and Charlie Kelly fight cancer hard as The Boxhounds get Grammy". The Cleveland Leader. Archived from the original on April 10, 2013. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  22. ^ "The band". Eaglemaniacs. Archived from the original on August 14, 2023. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  23. ^ "Top Country Albums" (PDF). Billboard. April 19, 1997. p. 34. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 14, 2023.