The White Buffalo (musician)

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The White Buffalo
Jake Smith (The White Buffalo).jpg
Jake Smith at the Azkena Rock Festival in Vitoria-Gasteiz in 2015
Background information
Origin Los Angeles, California, U.S

The White Buffalo is the professional moniker and stage name of American musician and singer/songwriter Jake Smith.[1][2][3]

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Oregon in 1974/1975, and raised in California, Jake Smith grew up listening to country music and punk rock. He studied history at university. The largest influences on his songwriting are folk singers such as Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.

A baritone, Smith is known for his wide range in pitch within his singing, incorporation of whistling into his music (in place of the harmonica often used in roots music) and his lyrical references to God and war. His singing style has been compared[4] to that of late singer-songwriter Richie Havens.

The White Buffalo's first full-length album, Hogtied Like a Rodeo, debuted in 2002. This was followed by The White Buffalo EP, produced by Eels' Koool G Murder, which Smith states is about "relationships, love, loss and booze with a little murder mixed in." This EP was musically grounded in acoustic folk and country blues. In a friend's living room in 2008, he re-recorded the first album, dubbing it Hogtied Revisited. Musically, this 2008 album was a blend of folk, modern rock, and alternative country.

When a bootleg tape of Smith's music made it into the hands of pro surfer Chris Malloy, one of his songs, "Wrong," was featured in his popular surf movie, Shelter. This eventually led to further film scoring and composing work, with many of his songs featured in FX's hit show Sons of Anarchy and Showtime's Californication.

In 2010, a second EP, Prepare for Black and Blue,[5] was recorded in six days by producer Jimmy Messer and released through Chad Stokes' Ruffshod imprint via Nettwerk Records earlier that year. Again, this was musically grounded in folk. The music and the artist captured the attention of Unison Music's Bruce Witkin and Ryan Dorn, who then signed The White Buffalo and co-produced Once Upon a Time in the West.[6][7] This album transitioned to a more roots rock sound, whilst some songs still retained a folk style.

In 2013, a fourth LP, Shadows, Greys, and Evil Ways,[8] was released on Unison Music Group. This was musically a mixture of folk rock and some blues rock. The LP saw positive reviews including NY1 which stated, "Not since Neil Young's Living with War has there been so strong an artistic statement about this country's occupations."[9]

In 2015, the album Love and the Death of Damnation was released. Musically this was very varied, with several songs being grounded in roots rock, whilst the song "Chico" incorporated Latin music, "Last Call To Heaven" fused folk, blues and jazz, and "Come On Love, Come On In" was a soul song.

In August 2017 Smith released two tracks from his then-upcoming album Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights, the singles "Avalon" and "The Observatory".[10][11] The single "Avalon" was described by Billboard as an "expansive country-tinged rock song" and tells the story of a wayward man's trip to peace.[10] "The Observatory" was a blend of soft-rock and country-folk.

Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights was released in October 2017 to positive reviews, and was Smith's most electrified rock album yet. Musically, the album was a blend of alternative rock, blues, country and folk. The song “The Observatory” was featured in “This Is Us” episode “The 5th Wheel”

Other activities[edit]

Sons of Anarchy[edit]

Jake Smith, from The White Buffalo, sang on the Season 7 finale song, "Come Join The Murder", performed by The Forest Rangers and written by Sons of Anarchy creator, actor and executive producer, Kurt Sutter.[12] Other songs from The White Buffalo which appeared on Sons of Anarchy include "Matador", "Damned", "Wish It Was True", "House of The Rising Sun (cover featuring The Forest Rangers)", "The Whistler", "Set My Body Free", "Sweet Hereafter", "Oh Darling, what have I done" and "Bohemian Rhapsody (cover featuring The Forest Rangers)".[13]

Ernie Ball presents Capturing The White Buffalo[edit]

In June 2015, Ernie Ball introduced a ten part docuseries entitled "Ernie Ball presents Capturing The White Buffalo: The Recording of an American Songwriter",[14] which followed Jake as he recorded his album, Love and the Death of Damnation. The series sought to show the audience Jake's process "from inspiration, to writing, fine-tuning, recording, and mixing, to rehearsing and performing live", so they could "experience the trials and tribulations of a modern day troubadour".[15] Initially releasing the teaser trailer[16] on May 18, 2015. The first episode[17] premiered June 19, 2015 with each subsequent episode scheduled to release once per week each Friday leading up to the album's release on August 21, 2015.[18]


The White Buffalo performing in 2015 (Azkena Rock Festival, Vitoria-Gasteiz).

Over the past few years White Buffalo has played shows both nationally and internationally with acts like Ryan Bingham, Donavan Frankenreiter, Gomez, Xavier Rudd, State Radio, Jack Johnson, Ziggy Marley, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, among many others.

Awards and nominations[edit]

The White Buffalo was named as one of twelve artists to watch in NPR's 2012 Winter Music Preview.[19]

The White Buffalo's Digital EP, Lost And Found, released 12/6, featuring "Wish It Was True"[20] as heard on Sons of Anarchy (Season 3), was named Billboard Folk Chart "HOT SHOT DEBUT". "House of the Rising Sun" with The Forest Rangers was also featured on Season 4 of Sons of Anarchy.[21]

The White Buffalo performed at the 2011 Bonnaroo Festival and performed on The Living Room Sessions in December 2011.

In August 2014, The White Buffalo performed their songs "This Year" and "The Whistler" on Jimmy Kimmel.[22]


Studio albums[edit]

  • Hogtied Like a Rodeo (independently released, 2002)
  • Hogtied Revisited (independently released, 2008)
  • Once Upon a Time in the West (Unison Music Group, 2012)
  • Shadows, Greys, and Evil Ways (Unison Music Group, 2013)[1][23]
  • Love & The Death of Damnation (Unison Music Group, 2015)
  • Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights (Thirty Tigers, 2017)

Extended plays[edit]

  • The White Buffalo (independently released, 2002)
  • Prepare for Black and Blue (Ruffshod/Nettwerk Records, 2010)
  • Lost and Found (Unison Music Group, 2011)


  • Safe Haven (Relativity Music, 2013)
  • The Lone Ranger (Walt Disney Records, 2013)
  • West of Memphis (Legacy Recordings, 2014)[24]
  • I Know You (Halo Wars 2 - E3 trailer, 2016)

TV licensing[edit]

With the placement of "Wrong" in Chris Malloy's movie Shelter, The White Buffalo has gained further film scoring and composing success with three of his songs featured in FX's hit show Sons of Anarchy[25] and Showtime's Californication, as well as commercials for Wal-Mart. His song “Wish It Was True” was also featured in the Netflix original series Marvel’s The Punisher, season 1 episode 3 “Kandahar”. The Observatory was also featured on Season 2 Episode 11 of NBC's This Is Us. His song "Where Dirt and Water Collide" was featured in the Netflix series Longmire, season 6 episode 7, "Opiates and Antibiotics".


  1. ^ a b " The White Buffalo Shadows, Greys & Evil Ways" review by Thom Jurek, AllMusic
  2. ^ Maine, David. "The White Buffalo: Shadows, Greys & Evil Ways". Pop Matters.
  3. ^ "Hear the White Buffalo's Meditative New Song 'The Observatory'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-09-30. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "The White Buffalo Prepare For Black and Blue (Album Review)". Hear Ya.
  6. ^ "quickcrit – music reviews: The White Buffalo – Once Upon a Time in the West (2012)". 
  7. ^ "KQED Public Media for Northern CA – KQED Arts". KQED Arts. 
  8. ^ "The White Buffalo Shadows, Greys And Evil Ways". American Songwriter.
  9. ^ "The White Buffalo Makes His Late Night Debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Aug 26". Prelude Press.
  10. ^ a b "The White Buffalo Shares Latest Alt-Country Track 'Avalon': Premiere". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-08-26. 
  11. ^ "The White Buffalo » Home". Retrieved 2017-09-30. 
  12. ^ "Hear the Dark Swan Song From the 'Sons of Anarchy' Finale". Rolling Stone. 
  13. ^ "Songs of Anarchy: Music from Sons of Anarchy Seasons 1–4". iTunes. 
  14. ^ Ernie Ball, Inc. "Ernie Ball presents Capturing the White Buffalo". 
  15. ^ "Ernie Ball Offering an Exclusive Sneak Peak Behind the Scenes of White Buffalo's New Album". 
  16. ^ Ernie Ball Presents Capturing the White Buffalo – The Recording of an American Songwriter – Trailer. YouTube. May 18, 2015. 
  17. ^ Ernie Ball Presents Capturing The White Buffalo – Episode 1: Inspiration. YouTube. June 19, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Exclusive Premiere: 'Capturing The White Buffalo: The Recording of an American Songwriter' Part One". CraveOnline. 
  19. ^ National Public Radio. 2012 Winter Music Preview., 2011.12.29. Date retrieved 2012.11.1.
  20. ^ "The White Buffalo Performs "Wish It Was True" Acoustic for". ARTISTdirect. 
  21. ^ "Best of 2011 (Behind the Scenes): 'Sons of Anarchy' music supervisor Bob Thiele Jr. on season 4's greatest hits", 2011.11.18. Date retrieved 2012.11.9.
  22. ^ "Watch The White Buffalo Roam Onto 'Jimmy Kimmel' & Perform Live". Billboard. 
  23. ^ Marquee Magazine. "The White Buffalo Releases New Album 'Shadows, Greys & Evil Ways,' Collaborates with Oskar Blues for a New Brew and FBAG". 
  24. ^ "'West of Memphis' Soundtrack Includes Nick Cave, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith". Rolling Stone. 
  25. ^ Geller, Wendy. "Video Premiere for The White Buffalo’s ‘Sons Of Anarchy’ Tune". Rolling Stone.

External links[edit]