D.T. Buffkin
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D.T. Buffkin

San Antonio, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | INDIE

San Antonio, Texas, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Americana Folk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Mid-Year Music Roundup: The Top 5 Albums of 2013"

Local: Cryin’ DT Buffkin & the Bad Breath — Tattooed Rose
After over a year cutting their teeth around town, Cryin’ DT Buffkin and the Bad Breath have finally cut a record, the vinyl-only release Tattooed Rose. Like a wonderfully mixed cocktail of Tom Waits, Billie Holiday, and Fats Waller, it’s a record that ably showcases the band’s impressive handle on classic American sounds including boogie-woogie, Dixieland and plenty of whisky soaked blues. Buffkin’s also showing himself to be a helluva songwriter, as clearly shown by the rollicking “Watch the Sky” and the heartbreaking “Wasted Pennies.” - San Antonio Current

"One More Breath for Buffkin"

SAN ANTONIO — If you have supported a San Antonio cause or artist, or just went somewhere that served adult beverages lately, there's a good chance D.T. Buffkin and the Bad Breath were playing there.

One of the hardest-working musicians in town, pianist/guitarist Travis Buffkin estimates he has played about 300 shows in the area since the beginning of 2012.

But his 11 p.m. Friday gig at The Monterey, 1127 S. St. Mary's St., will be Buffkin's last in town for a while. It will serve as a send-off for the band, which is headed to Tennessee for a two-week tour. They'll follow it with a break to record new songs.

“I probably played four or five shows around here in two weeks at any given time,” said Buffkin, whose full name is Donald Travis. “At some point, you're just spinning wheels.”

There must be shorter paths to success than staying local and playing a self-categorized brand of “old-timey” music, considering piano bars aren't exactly all the rage at the moment.

Buffkin draws immediate comparisons to Tom Waits and Louis Armstrong for his growling voice, but that discounts a range of styles he draws from, all of which he notes are pre-1973.

“One new song has a Roy Orbison style to it,” he said. “If we get people to listen, I think they'd find something to like.”

There didn't seem to be a flier for a fair or benefit that lacked Buffkin's band on the bill since he released the album “Tattooed Rose” last year.

His shows included a Thursday night residency at The Esquire Tavern for a year and a regular spot at Hi-Tones on Fridays.

One of Buffkin's favorite shows was a birthday party at the historic Hot Wells. One he'd like to forget was on a larger stage in front of 10 people.

He wanted to be accessible to the entire city, possibly at the risk of oversaturation.

“The goal is to be known as a son of San Antonio,” Buffkin said. “I'd rather fail here than move to Austin.”

Because of his lofty hopes, he said, he had to take the risk and say yes to every show.

Now he plans to scale back inside Loop 1604 and build some networks elsewhere. Buffkin, 27, has rarely played out of the area, and the Tennessee tour will be his first out-of-state gigs.

Roland De La Cruz of Masters of Love and Los Mescaleros leads the Bad Breath, while the rest of the band has changed since recording the album.

A product of Buffkin's constant performing is an ability to cater shows to any crowd, rowdy or quiet, sober or sloshed.

For the new record, Buffkin hopes to work with some of the area's greats. He said he's already spoken to the Sir Douglas Quintet and Texas Tornados' Augie Meyers about the next record, and he named Flaco Jimenez as another local hero he hopes to get.

For the first time in years, Buffkin's calendar will be empty. When a bar or benefit comes calling, they might have to look elsewhere.

“For once, we'll just say no,” Buffkin said.

He pauses for a second, and then adds a way out.

“I'm really bad at saying no. We love playing too much.” - San Antonio Express-News

"Travis Buffkin: like nothing else you might hear"

Travis Buffkin isn't interested in being a rock star. He may not have a choice in the matter.

The charismatic, 25-year-old singer-songwriter who fronts Cryin' D.T. Buffkin & the Bad Breath (the "D" stands for Donald, his given first name) admittedly has chosen the long way to the top because of the music he plays and the way he sings it.

He calls his music old-timey.

Indeed, it's a combination of ragtime blues, New Orleans-flavored rock and forgotten styles of the swinging '40s, all of it fueled by clarinet, double bass, electric slide guitar and Buffkin behind his battered Baldwin organ, a relic he purchased for $69 "from a guy that just wanted it out of his house."

Old-timey but fresh - and hardly traditional.

Buffkin's distinctive, deep baritone voice recalls the marvelous, less-than-commercial weathered instruments of Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and Louis Armstrong.

In other words, it's an acquired taste. There are worse heroes. And Buffkin is unapologetic about his growl.

"I've always liked individuals with more unique voices," he said. "I like people like Howlin' Wolf and Louis Armstrong. I just dig that stuff. It's not boring. It seems like everybody's got a decent voice nowadays, and nobody's got an intriguing voice. I wanna have my own sound."

Cryin' D.T. Buffkin & the Bad Breath - they've been together for only eight months - certainly intrigue.

For one, the band plays its Thursday-night residency at the Esquire Tavern in a back corner in the dim light of the historic, restored bar. The live music runs from 9 p.m. to midnight. No cover.

In the shadows, playing slide licks and old-fashioned passing chords on a vintage Gibson ES-125 hollow-body electric guitar is a familiar face among the college-age musicians.

Roland De La Cruz of Masters of Love and Los Mescaleros signed on after hearing the fledgling band - which includes bassist Andrew Maley, guitarist Jase Brown, clarinetist Ricardo Martinez and drummer Mason Macias - play a late night at the Mix.

"I told him, 'Man, it's great. The only thing missing is a slide guitar!' I sat in on the gig, and there you go," said De La Cruz, who is teaming with Buffkin to produce a vinyl single for the band.

The A-side will feature an original song with a timeless groove, "Ain't It the Truth."

"It's great music," De La Cruz said. "I wasn't even looking for a gig. It's all Travis. We're all backing Travis. He picks the songs. He arranges them. He writes them. And then we just play. He lets us do our thing, you know. He's a talented guy."

Buffkin adds only that he loves De La Cruz's ears.

The self-taught organist/pianist is actually a classical guitar major at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He studies under UTSA's Matthew Dunne and takes lessons from Michael Richter.

Buffkin was born in Myrtle Beach, S.C., but grew up in San Antonio, at first near Jefferson High School. He graduated from Clark High School.

The constant was his mom's music collection, which included Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, the Beach Boys, doo-wop and country music. His grandmother preferred Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and the swing-band era.

As a kid, he played in a punk band called the Syndicate. More recently, he played in the Austin-based garage-punk band In Bed.

"I wanted to play, like, real juke joint, old blues," Buffkin said about his return to S.A. in 2011. "(In Bed) wanted to play loud. They're like punk kids. They didn't want to turn their guitars down and play bars. They wanted to be a big Austin band, be a big deal."

Buffkin credits Brown with helping find the musicians who comprise the Bad Breath.

"Nobody wants to play, like, cool stuff like Sonny Boy Williamson or Nina Simone," he said.

"It was a pain … Then I came out here to school (at UTSA) and I met this one kid, my guitar player, the young blond guy. I like to say that we met though Louis Armstrong and W.C. Fields. He digs all that stuff. He's an old soul. He picked up all those guys."

Buffkin says he's not sure if his sometimes rollicking, just as often laid-back, music connects with local audiences.

"I don't know, man. Sometimes I just want to beat the (expletive) out of them," he said.

"I knew we'd always fit in at the Esquire. It's a beautiful bar and everything. Sometimes people get it. It all depends. Some nights we're really feeling it, but they're not paying attention at all. Everybody says, 'Man, yo - San Antonio Express News, Hearst Corp.

"Cryin' D.T. Buffkin & the Bad Breath Don't Want Your $13"

How fitting that, on the night of June 14 at Hi-Tones, just as Cryin’ D.T. Buffkin & The Bad Breath were about to present their brand-new Tattooed Rose album, Francois Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player was showing on the TV set above the bar. It was pure chance, but jumping from Charles Aznavour on the screen to bandleader Travis Buffkin behind the piano reminded me of something I’ve suspected for a while—if I were Buffkin’s manager, Buffkin would be a dead man. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t have one.

“No, we don’t have [a manager],” he tells me in early July, while we’re both sitting in my car in front of The Filling Station, the Southtown eatery where he works. “But if anyone is up for the task, man, we’ll fucking take them on. Especially if they want to take 10 percent of the measly money we make. I mean, shit…”

My advice to potential candidates: think it over carefully.

To make a long story short, let’s just say public relations is not Buffkin’s favorite part of the musician’s job. Depending on how he feels, he’ll say anything at anytime, or will say nothing at all. Just getting photos of the band large enough for print required a seemingly never-ending email exchange. Buffkin reluctantly uses the internet and automatically loses respect for any band who requests you “like” them on Facebook. It even took some time to convince Buffkin that we, in fact, needed to talk about Saturday’s gig at Nightrocker Live (the band will also play at the Current’s Cocktail party on Friday, July 26).

He’s not the most media-savvy band leader out there, but few are more honest.

“I’m not going to promote [the Saturday show] because I don’t feel comfortable promoting a show for $13 to people,” Buffkin said. “I’ll never pay 13 bucks to see any local band, especially when you can see that same band for free the next day.”

In spite of this couldn’t-care-less approach to the marketing aspects of his career, he constantly gets away with murder because he does care—about the music. Current contributor J.D. Swerzenski chose Tattooed Rose as the best local album of the year so far. It was recorded with the tightest Bad Breath lineup ever and produced by new guitarist Roland Delacruz (Masters of Love). Swerzenski praised the band’s “old-fashioned act mixing equal parts Tin Pan Alley songcraft and juke-joint blues, with a splash of New Orleans Dixieland to make it all go down easy,” but stressed the fact that it is the songs themselves, not merely the style, that resonates on Tattooed Rose.

Yet, the comparisons to Louis Armstrong (the growling) and Tom Waits (the piano and the booze, and the growling) are inevitable, even though Buffkin insists he found “his own voice” on the record. Really?

“Yeah, haven’t you heard?” he asks.

We engage in a long dialectical discussion on what “finding your own voice” means and whether “taste” is the only thing that defines what good or bad music is. We disagree on both. He thinks sounding like someone else can still be you, and that the “good vs. bad” always simply comes down to “taste.” I share with him the story of Astor Piazzolla, the Argentine genius (and inspiration for the Austin Piazzolla Quintet) who revolutionized tango and came up with his own sound. Before Piazzolla created the New Tango, in the mid-1950s he went to Paris to study under composer Nadia Boulanger and showed her his classical compositions. She was unimpressed and found them derivative. “Where’s Piazzolla?” she kept asking. He then showed her his New Tango pieces, and she exclaimed: “Now, that’s Piazzolla!” thus changing his life.

So I ask, “Where’s Travis Buffkin?”

“It’s there [on Tattooed Rose],” Buffkin said. “You just have to listen. I can sing any way I want, but I’m not bullshitting when I growl. But I never sound better than when I just sit at home and play the piano or guitar by myself. Honestly, that’s when I sound best.”

And that’s what I want to hear.

“Just send me some songs, demos you record at home with ‘your own voice,’” I request. Days later, he delivers three wonderful new songs his band is incorporating into their live set, just his voice and guitar on the recordings: “Honey Bee,” “Today Was a Liquor Store” and “Tie One On,” three unclassifiable songs that sound folky but could be easily turned into a Cryin’ D.T. Buffkin format. In them, what he calls his “own voice,” really is apparent: Satchmo is still there, but it is Travis Buffkin that strikes the listener most.

“I’ll take Louie Armstrong but I won’t take Tom Waits anymore,” he said. “Now I’ve found my voice and I feel like Billie Holiday.”

Whatever the voice, and whatever the future holds for his band, first things first: there’s a show on Saturday, and, heck, Buffkin decided to give promoting it a shot. So he posted the following on the band’s Facebook (yes, FB) page:
“We, Cryin’ D.T. Buffkin & the Bad Breath, are playing a show at Nightrocker that will cost $13 at the door. Clearly, $13 is an outrag - San Antonio Current

"Cryin' D.T. Buffkin & the Bad Breath"

It’s time to stop treating Cryin’ D.T. Buffkin and the Bad Breath as a novelty act: these guys are for real. One of SA’s most unique groups, the band is celebrating the vinyl release of Tattooed Rose with a must-see show at Hi-Tones. Buffkin’s voice is equal parts Tom Waits and Louis Armstrong, and his Satchmo growl is perfect for the band’s ragtime blues, New Orleans rock, and piano ballads that simultaneously take you back and forward in time. With the addition of Roland Delacruz (Masters of Love) on slide guitar, the band is better than ever. The album (co-produced by Delacruz and Buffkin) is solid, but this is a band to be experienced live, especially when you have opening acts like Sugar Skulls (in one of their last shows for a while) and El Campo (aka Pillow Talk). - San Antonio Current


Tattooed Rose LP



Spending his childhood in equal parts West San Antonio and the Carolinas under the sonic tutelage of a victrola preaching Eartha Kitt and The Ink Spots and an AM radio fixated on Willie and Ray Price, D.T. Buffkin utilizes a bar piano with more beer-rings than tuned keys and torch songs that carry a flame fueled by whisky and a nostalgia for beehives, speakeasies and O. Henry tales of goodtime drink and hardtime graft. Penning numbers that sound like diamond-in-the-rough B-sides and overlooked gems, he utilizes Latin beats that have ridden the heels of the loud, vulgar, sexy mujer in the corner of la cantina; nihilistic honky tonk tunes that only play out of a busted, drunk jukebox to be sung over by the old timer that has forgot more than you'll ever know about her; bravado-filled arias that Roy O. would be keen to. Most of his classically-penned songs are about women, tattoos of women, tattoos on women, cops, libations, Saturday nights and Sunday mornings, the Grind, love and hate. Everything he writes is either for Anna Magnani or Anita Pallenberg.

Band Members