It seems like almost everyday someone asks me if I’ve heard of this new and upcoming band that has blown them away. With a love for all types of music, I’ll usually give most bands a chance. This is the way I was introduced to The Last Bison. My son found them online and had asked me to watch a video of theirs that he had come across. As I sat there listening to “Switzerland” for the first time, I became hooked.
This love for The Last Bison’s folksy sound took me and my family to Chesapeake, Virginia, to the Triple R Ranch for a charity concert they were putting on for the Virginia Food Bank. They couldn’t have chosen a better charity to work with for the concert. Last year the Food Bank of SE VA donated 12.5 million meals!
TLB leapt off to a great start with, “O Beautiful Star”. It was a feast of sound that hit you from all sides, at multiple frequencies, and with numerous instruments - some of them unidentifiable.
A mass of strong harmonies came from the three frontline singers, although it was hard to take your eyes away from the happy and delightful young violin player, Teresa, hiding in the back. She, along with Amos on the cello, caused the entire audience to begin clapping. As the next intro began, voices from the crowd were heard singing along to “Quill”, which is also the name of their debut album. With even more synchronized harmony than the previous song, the audience went from engaged to, well, even-more-engaged. The song carried on into something that you might expect to hear at a circus, not a rock concert. But it all worked very well.
"Oh Come, O Come Emmanuel" began with what sounded like a low growl from Ben, the lead singer, but with hints of bluegrass redeeming the luscious music beyond anything you've ever heard in this classic Christmas song. And when the violin and percussions joined in, the crowd started clapping and swaying in unison.
Young Teresa shined again with her violin as she flexed it between a smooth ride and a busy buzzing bee during "What Child Is This". That is until the banjo was paraded out and knocked things up a notch. The band effortlessly flowed into “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” bringing the crowd pleasure with a solid beat. Imagine the fun of 'Dueling Banjos', the beauty of street Christmas carolers, and the beat of a light and nimble rock song. Then amplify it all by five. Now you’re getting close to the right atmosphere.
Annah, who plays bells, took over on leads for, "Oh Holy Night", hitting every high note with ease. Simple acoustic guitar accompaniment with the cello and the violin creeping in the back door made for an emotional performance.
Teresa wore a perpetual smile, as she weaved the audience in and out of the lyrics being delivered from the lead female vocalist, to the point where we could hardly tell what we're hearing, the violin or this beautiful voice?
After a quirky little talk from Ben about his solo travels around Europe a few years ago, and an appeal for all of us to give to the Food Bank, the first beats and notes of their signature song, “Switzerland”, began. It was instantly recognized and rapturously received by the 600+ crowd that were happy to be squeezed into this converted country barn.
Cheers, cheers and more cheers.
Just when we all thought this incredible show had come to an end, Ben gave us a quick Spanish lesson when we were all asked to join in with an unconventional version of “Feliz Navidad”. Everyone around me took part. Some even danced. They wished all a Merry Christmas, and went off for signing.
The show was the essence of what a charity performance should be: not too short and not too long, easily accessible, and tremendous fun for the entire family.
Catch them on their USA tour!