Dave Buker & the Historians
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Dave Buker & the Historians

Columbus, Ohio, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010

Columbus, Ohio, United States
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Americana Folk




"Locals: History repeats itself, but not Dave Buker & the Historians"

History might repeat itself, but Dave Buker & the Historians refuses to do the same.

“We want to keep doing different things and putting out albums … that still feel like us, but are interesting in a new way,” said frontman Dave Buker, who joined drummer Joe Spurlock, both 29, for a late October interview at a Bexley coffee shop.

It’s an approach that carried over into the songwriting for the Historians’ new full-length, For Every Heartbreak, which will make up the backbone of its record release show at Brothers Drake Meadery on Friday, Nov. 6. The title track, for one, originated in a more straightforward, folk-singer vein before the bandmates stripped it down and rebuilt it in its current form as a horn-spiked bossa nova.

“We tried to push ourselves,” Spurlock said of the extensive writing and recording sessions, which stretched on over the course of 14 months. “It was like, ‘What more are we capable of? How can we elevate ourselves to where we want to be?’ There was a lot of trying something unexpected … to see if it would work.”

Regardless, the album maintains a timeless musical feel, incorporating swinging tunes that conjure images of a Prohibition-era speakeasy (“River Bank”) and folksier turns like “Some Birds,” which opens as an a cappella sing-along and closes as a jaunty prairie church revival.

In the past, Buker filled the band’s songs with intensely personal revelations — “If I was writing lyrics to a song, [Joe] would know exactly what it was about because it was very situational and very much about something I had recently gone through,” he said — but this time around he made a more concerted effort to adopt a broader viewpoint, wrestling with universal concepts like regret, aging and death on mature, emotionally stirring tracks like “Scared.”

“There were songs on the last record that were meant to be a message to people, and I definitely got emails, like, ‘Hey, I listened to the record, and that was tough for me.’ And to me it was like, ‘Good. Fuck you,’ or whatever it was,” Buker said. “But are those songs going to feel as strong to others? I think taking this broader approach really was an attempt to relate to more people. We’re all going to get older, we’re all going to get sick and we’re all going to be scared of it. Why run away from it?” - Columbus Alive

"Daily Discovery: Dave Buker & the Historians, “Scared”"

HOMETOWN: I, Dave, grew up in Youngstown, Ohio. The rest of the band is from various places (Ohio, Louisiana, Nebraska).


AMBITIONS: For our band to continue being proud of the music we make

TURN-OFFS: Those without a sense of humor

TURN-ONS: Honesty and ambition

DREAM GIG: Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to open for Jackson Browne, and then play in his backing band. We’d play through his 70’s catalog.

FAVORITE LYRIC: Whenever this question comes up, Paul Simon’s “American Tune” is always the first to come to mind. It’s hard to ignore its vulnerability and honesty, especially in the first verse… “Many is the time I’ve been mistaken / And many times confused / Yes, and I’ve often felt forsaken / And certainly misused / But I’m all right, I’m all right / I’m just weary to my bones / Still, you don’t expect to be bright and bon vivant / So far away from home, so far away from home…”

SONG I WISH I WROTE: “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes. I often find it difficult, as a songwriter, to not focus on sadness. It sounds cliche, but sometimes it’s just easier to play the “sad bastard”…and although it’s a good exercise to try writing from another perspective, I find that the result often toes the line between charming and cheesy. “First Day of My Life” is a beautiful (and charming) song that stands perfectly within an album of much darker material. I mean, how can you argue with the line: “This is the first day of my life / I’m glad I didn’t die before I met you”…right?

5 PEOPLE I’D MOST LIKE TO HAVE DINNER WITH: Abraham Lincoln, Carl Sagan, Geoffrey Emerick, Mark Oliver Everett, and my grandfather.

MY FAVORITE CONCERT EXPERIENCE: A few years ago, I saw Glassjaw in Cleveland. I’d been listening to them since high school but never had the chance to see them. They’re an amazing live band, but what made this show especially memorable is that the entire audience seemed to be as into them as I am. And their inconsistent touring schedule made the audience even more thankful to be in attendance.

I WROTE THIS SONG BECAUSE…“Scared” is a song that took shape very quickly. I wrote it at a time when I was feeling very uneasy about the inevitabilities of life…age, poor health, complacency. I still feel uneasy, and I think it’s natural. I’m nearing 30 and my outlook is changing (certainly not old, but starting to be in the shadow of “youth”); I’m feeling more and more vulnerable and tried to channel that vulnerability for these lyrics.

As we started to arrange the song, and work with producer Jay Alton, we added some less predictable elements: the V7/I/V-vi progression in the chorus, the 5/8 measure in the bridge. Although we might not have been conscious of it, those moments seem to embody the uneasiness. - American Songwriter Magazine

"Dave Buker and the Historians"

Sad-sap songwriters are a dime a dozen in indie rock. From Elliott Smith to Fleet Foxes and onto the sulking folkie du jour Hozier, the further the evolution, or de-evolution, the more it seems the genre gets watered down. Nothing against the idea of a man, his guitar, and a song—it’s the bedrock, the essence—but lately things have become stale, completely one-dimensional. That’s something Dave Buker understands all too well. Along with his Historians, he’s determined to bring a multifaceted dynamism to a tired trend. Not everyone’s bruised by relationships and wanting the music to reflect their blues.

“I think my music is becoming more accessible now because you don’t only need a broken heart to appreciate it,” Buker said. “It goes a lot deeper than that.”

Full disclosure, on the surface, or at least initially, it’d be fair game to label Buker as just another post-collegiate Sufjan Stevens-type. After all, the “heart” is a major theme on the band’s trademark song “Molecules.” But it’s his ultra-sweet melodies that set it apart, projecting more as impressionist painting with bright dabs of pastel rather than a rainy day confessional. We are not wallowing in Buker’s misery as much as we are celebrating spring after the thawing of winter. Further listens to last year’s What Can Bring You Back To Me? reveal a wide range of the maladies and small triumphs achieved, as Buker puts it, “while living through your ’20s.” It’s a great encapsulation of the awkward delight felt in the space between the dormitory and domestication. It’s about being responsible for one’s honesty.

“I’m trying harder to be more relatable—being honest about things that people can easily grab onto.”
“I found that when you’ve been a songwriter for a while, you start to find that voice. It’s a comfort level, and at first I didn’t have that,” Buker said, admitting some growing pains. “So the first record I ever did was a concept album [2010’s New World, Old Flame]. I felt more comfortable telling a story because you can lie, make things up, and it’s easier to not be as vulnerable. But it’s also a lot less interesting. That’s not the case anymore.”

Buker has always played in bands, but in the background, rarely the main songwriter. He studied classical guitar in college and at one time was culling ideas from late-baroque, while getting a degree in musical education. But the only distinct technical trait that he incorporates into his current songs is the acutely technical finger picking style of his playing. The Historians arrangements, be it with synths, piano, horns, marimbas, or the voice of Leanna Stansell, are instead the key ingredients Buker took from schooling. As a master of many instruments, what could easily be left threadbare blossoms with color and shape.

The songs of What Can Bring You Back To Me? are “classic” in light of Buker’s list of influences—notably troubadour folkies of the ’70s like Paul Simon and Jackson Browne. It’s a spirit Buker wants to keep alive as he sees it “dying with the radio.” A more contemporary reference might be the subtleties of Belle and Sebastian or the faded melancholy of M. Ward, one of Buker’s professed favorites.

Though content to whittle with his songs alone, it’s the rest of the Historians, including Tim Jennings on bass, Joe Spurlock on drums, and Paul Valdiviez on keyboards, that give the music a presence beyond the average soft rock band. Currently they’re in the studio, almost done with what is now an unnamed fall release.

“I think our first two records were honest, but in a more direct and impersonal way,” Buker said. “Now I’m trying harder to be more relatable—being honest about things that people can easily grab onto. There are themes that people will identify with because it’s about growing.”

So far Buker touts the upcoming record as the best representation of his songwriting, but knowing the wanderlust that lines his lyrics, there’s another new awakening right around the corner. - 614 Magazine

"For Every Heartbreak by Dave Buker & The Historians"

Dave Buker & The Historians is a band based out of Columbus, Ohio. Members include Dave Buker (vocals, acoustic/guitar, acoustic/electric piano, harmonica), Joe Spurlock (drums, percussion, guitar, vocals), Paul Valdiviez (acoustic/electric piano, organ, vocals, synthesizer, guitar, melodica), Leanna Stansell (vocals, percussion, melodica) and Tim Jennings (bass). For Every Heartbreak is their second studio release. Additional musicians on the new album include Adam Bidwell (trumpet), Tom Regouski (alto/tenor sax, Clarinet, oboe), Chase Potter (Violin) and Jay Alton (vocals, guitar).

For Every Heartbreak is an extremely enjoyable record, played with lively instrumentation and pleasant vocal harmonies. I would describe the music somewhere in between indie-rock and indie-pop, like Death Cab for Cutie meets Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Every time the music teeters along the boundaries of your standard indie fare it satisfyingly withdraws and goes in multiple directions, keeping things fresh and interesting. The album makes full use of its guest contributors. The addition of horns really take the songs to new heights. Charming, graceful, engaging and utterly accessible, Dave Buker & The Historians' For Every Heartbreak is a release definitely worth checking out. Standouts include "River Bank", "Scared", "Patterns Don't Change", "Whose Side Are You On" and "For Every Heartbreak". - Sound & Silence Magazine

"Local Limelight: Dave Buker and the Historians"

Dave Buker views music as a time capsule.

“What I end up doing, I guess, is a responsibility — documenting moments in people’s lives and memories that would have otherwise been swept under the rug,” said the 28-year-old singer-guitarist, whose Columbus quintet, the Historians, takes its name seriously.

“What we get to do, as a band, is keep them alive.”

It wasn’t always that way: A shy Buker, who studied music education and now works as a manager of teen programs for COSI Columbus, years ago wrote a concept record and other tunes through characters’ more-abstract experiences.

Recent introspective work rooted in real life suggests a new chapter.

“I got over those insecurities,” said Buker, set to perform tonight in an early evening show at Woodlands Tavern. “That personal angle has really increased for me.”

 Q: What does the band sound like?

A: It’s more along that kind of ’70s-songwriter-troubadour style. I’m a big fan of Jackson Browne and Paul Simon, people like that. But it is very much a band; it feels like five people playing together.

We’ve got a lot of three-, sometimes four-part harmony. What defines our sound more than anything is that big vocal idea.

 Q: Could you explain your writing approach?

A: I try as a lyricist to not get too in the weeds; you want that music to be able to be interpreted. There are lines that are super-specific . . . songs that are very, very personal.

 Q: How personal?

A: (A forthcoming album examines) anxieties about getting older, a point where you feel you have to settle down.

What Can Bring You Back to Me, our last record, sort of revolves around a time in my life where I was caught between different situations and trying to figure out how I was growing as an adult and directing my own life — kind of the typical love-story themes, the negative emotional side of things.

Q: What era of musical history speaks to you?

A: As a former classical guitarist, I was really into late Baroque. A lot of music you end up playing is Bach. I did a lot of rearranging of Bach cello suites for classical guitar.

 Q: What place in history would you like your own music to have?

A: I’m very much concerned about death, which sounds weird. I’m not really concerned about my place within the history of all music.

But I am comforted by the idea I am leaving something behind that can be enjoyed throughout time, a part of me that will outlive myself. - The Columbus Dispatch

"Staff Pick: Dave Buker & The Historians latest album treads dark terrain"

Dave Buker & The Historians celebrate the arrival of its latest album, What Can You Bring Back to Me?, with a record release show at Rumba Cafe on Saturday, Oct. 19. But while the local folkies will undoubtedly be in high spirits on this evening, much of the music on What Can You… actually treads far darker terrain, with Buker and Co. turning out songs that touch on death (“When You Go”), the pain of regret (“Sweeter Tears”) and the way memories of past relationships can imprint themselves on us like ink stains on fabric (“We Gave Up”).

It helps, of course, that the band delivers these mournful messages in typically graceful fashion, layering the tunes with gorgeous vocal harmonies, delicate piano and finger-picked acoustic guitar.

Check it out for yourself by downloading the album at davebuker.com, where it will remain available for free through the band’s Saturday release show. - Columbus Alive

"Review: Dave Buker and the Historians – What Can Bring You Back to Me? (2013)"

Columbus indie collective Dave Buker and the Historians are really beginning to make a name for themselves in Ohio’s capital city. The eclectic group released an EP, Say Ave., earlier this year to small fanfare and now, after a year’s work of recording and writing, are back with What Can Bring You Back to Me?

The best comparison I can drum up in my head in terms of equating Buker and company’s compositions to a more widely known counterpart is this – I think of this band as a jazzed up The Head and The Heart. Literally. The mood this evokes within me is very similar to what I feel when I hear jazz in passing. The music is best suited for play on a rainy day in your car, or while sipping a local brew on a barstool in a hidden, artsy dive. The Head and the Heart comparison is perhaps more readily apparent – male leads backed by sparingly used soprano vocals that occasionally jump to the forefront in their restrained, humble manner. And the piano, simple but steady drumming, occasional appearance of the ol’ ‘lectric guitar, yadda yadda yadda.

he whimsical is ever present, and combined with a release that has almost perfect timing, this is a record to be enjoyed thoroughly. The most immediately catchy is without a doubt “Molecules” but the quiet, fireplace-warmth emanating “When You Go” has an endearing quality to it that you have to be in just the right mood to appreciate. The “Sweeter Tears” introduction and reprise that bookend the album are well crafted and don’t come across as redundant, as is often the case when a band chooses the reprise route. Some minimalist acoustic tunes that make up the latter half of the album are probably the low point, yet they still possess an almost therapeutic quality to them that makes the not-quite-as-shiny songwriting excusable.

What Can Bring You Back to Me? is a full length that demonstrates marked growth from Dave Buker and the Historians, and evidence that the independent scene in central Ohio is growing ever stronger.

Score: 3.7/5 - I Am Tuned Up

"Dave Buker and the Historians, “Say Ave.”"

Dave Buker keeps stepping up his songwriting game. “Say Ave.” is built on rich, well-structured electro-chamber pop, each track boasting rich arrangements and invigorated performances from Buker’s band. In particular, “On Your Arm” stomps like never before. That’s stupendous news, but don’t rejoice just yet. Your enjoyment of Buker’s music hinges on your tolerance for his vocals, which sometimes plunge into cloying sub-Gibbardry. To these ears, a jolt of testosterone would lift Buker’s otherwise excellent recordings out of the lullaby zone and into full-on splendor. - Columbus Alive

"Review: Dave Buker and the Historians – Say Ave."

There is a lot of genre fusion going on in Columbus, Ohio these days and one hard working artist that seems to be flying under the local (and national, for that matter) radar is Dave Buker. His project Dave Buker and the Historians put out a project titled Say Ave. last year and it is worth at least a few minutes of your time – a few minutes might turn into several, which might turn into long term fanhood. You never know!

Having caught these guys at local music hangout Rumba Cafe earlier in the spring, I heard enough to know they were good (they share a member with fellow jazz/rock/indie band Fields and Planes). Perhaps I just wasn’t paying close enough attention, but it took sitting down with the recording to trying appreciate what they do. On paper, it sounds like Buker and co. are simply hopping on fads – take the use of the xylophone in “Say It Will” for example. This is used a lot in indie bands these days but it is effective in helping communicate the optimistic nature of the song. More muscle is introduced, albeit subtly in the whimsical title track. A contemplative turn in the mood occurs here, though. “On Your Arm” has a groovy staccato beat that segues into some fun guitar shredding – a big deviation from the start of the record, but somehow it still seems appropriate. Shoot, if Chris Funk from the Decemberists can shred and then switch to an organ grinder while pleasing the same fanbase so can Buker and his friends. “We’ll Always Look Classic” tones back things a notch to a pensive mood. Buker’s vocals take the front seat here, and they have this odd familiarity that I cannot quite place. “You’d Be Surprised” takes on a reassuring tone with just a touch of grit thrown in – pay attention to the lyrics though, you might miss it otherwise. “Won’t Keep Me Up at Night” rounds out the record with a reminiscent, carefree, and upbeat tune with minimal percussion.

Say Ave. is a record, that although treading on being disjointed at times for the large part works. The folk and alternative crowds will both find things to enjoy, and at times there’s even a throwback feeling that ought to appeal to the older crowd.

Score: 3.5/5 - I Am Tuned Up

"Roots, Rock and Rebec"

The music of this six-piece Columbus outfit used to be referred to as “electro-folk,” but as it has phased out the used of synthesizers and similar instruments, it has settled into a more conventional folk groove.

“Now it kind of falls more in the line of ’70s rootsy rock like the Band and Neil Young,” says lead vocalist and guitarist Dave Buker.

The band’s genesis was in January 2010, when Buker and drummer Joe Spurlock collaborated on a score for a local film. As the band grew in size, the scope of its members’ experience drove it closer to the folk-roots genre, and it has recently begun to utilize all its members’ vocal abilities through three-, four- and even five-part harmonies.

Buker works hard to instill meaning in all the songs he writes, taking events from his and others’ lives and translating them into music that will engage listeners. Among his favorites are Jackson Browne, Paul Simon and the Beatles.

The band released its first full-length album, titled What Can Bring You Back to Me?, in October. Much of the 10-track album consists of love songs, and making sure the record was cohesive from beginning to end was a high priority for Buker.

“For me, personally, I was writing about various relationships that I had been in over the last couple of years and how those experiences had changed me at moments when I felt … I was weaker than I thought I was,” he says.

The group also released LPs in 2010 and 2011. - City Scene Magazine


2010 - New World, Old Flame EP
2012 - Say Ave. EP
2013 - What Can Bring You Back To Me? LP
2015 - For Every Heartbreak LP



Based in Columbus, OH, Dave Buker & the Historians has been spreading its brand of Americana since 2010. Their most recent release, You Can Follow EP, is a collection of perviously unreleased material and follows 2015's For Every Heartbreak, which ranked #39 on Sound & Silence Magazine’s Top 100 albums and produced by Jay Alton (Saintseneca, The Speedbumps)

The band has opened for Matthew Logan Vasquez (of Delta Spirit), Run River North, Loch Lomond, Free Energy, and Red Wanting Blue and performed at 2017’s Bunbury Music Festival, playing before Death Cab For Cutie and The Shins. In December 2017, after winning a radio station-sponsored competition, Dave Buker & the Historians opened for Spoon, Alvvays, and The Aces

Dave Buker & the Historians has been showcased by WOSU-TV’s Broad & High (and was subsequently featured by other PBS affiliates), selected as a CD102.5FM Local Artist Contest Finalist, and featured by American Songwriter Magazine (Daily Discovery).

The band is currently writing new material for an anticipated 2019 release.

“Every time the music teeters along the boundaries of your standard indie fare it satisfyingly withdraws and goes in multiple directions, keeping things fresh and interesting...Charming, graceful, engaging and utterly accessible.”Sound & Silence Magazine
“... rich, well-structured electro-chamber pop, each track boasting rich arrangements and invigorated performances from Buker’s band.”Columbus Alive
“...it’s his ultra-sweet melodies that set it apart, projecting more as impressionist painting with bright dabs of pastel rather than a rainy day confessional. We are not wallowing in Buker’s misery as much as we are celebrating spring after the thawing of winter.”(614) Magazine

Band Members