Mad Buffalo

Mad Buffalo


Mad Buffalo is an Americana act with a strong folk/country rock undercurrent. Our new album "Wilderness" includes some of the greats - James Burton, Mickey Raphael, Marty Grebb, Gary Mallaber, Michael Ward, and many others. Please visit our website:


Artists sing or write about life. Most work from their imaginations. Only a few draw from having actually lived the episodes described through their music.

Of that small number, Randy Riviere (pronounced “Ri-VEER”), who records under the name Mad Buffalo, stands almost alone by virtue of what he has experienced and accomplished, how he connects it all to the flow of American culture and history, and how he ties it together through the poetry of his lyric and the emotion of his performance.

Wilderness, the latest of three Mad Buffalo albums, transcends the standards Riviere set with his previous releases, A Good Bad Road and Fool Stand. Those who have followed him through these past five-odd years will see in Wilderness the qualities that drew them to those works, especially in how his music seems to emerge from some place deep in our collective DNA.

What’s different on Wilderness is its depth, its sense of all the parts of Riviere’s story coming together as a unified statement about who we are, how we’ve come to where we stand together and sometimes in isolation, where the roads that began in that place honored by its title are leading, and what choices we might make for ourselves in years to come.

This is because Riviere himself has passed the milestone that he’s seen for years, always somewhere far ahead but only now put behind him. Up until recently, music has been only one part of his life. He’s played it since his high school years north of Sacramento, in garage bands that foreshadowed his integration of the sound and spirit of Johnny Cash, the Beatles, Lynyrd Skynyrd and especially Neil Young into a unique and personal fabric.

But for years, other things demanded his attention: service in the U.S. Army, blue-collar gigs that included working a drill rig and driving a long-haul truck route, and being inspired by his contact with the land to return to school, earn a master’s degree in wildlife biology, spearhead the preservation of more than 40,000 acres as permanent wildlife conservation easements working for the government in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as the head of his own company, receive multiple awards for his environmental efforts …

There is much more as well, but for our purposes the key point is that Riviere’s love for music, though moved to a back burner, never ceased to simmer. Only when the time was right did he raise the temperature, pour all the ingredients of his adventures into the pot, and shift his attention to his most enduring passion.

“Music is now what I do exclusively,” he says. “My business was about working with big landowners and doing conservation easements on their land, and now that’s done. The restoration projects I was doing are done. I can finally focus on my music above all else. That feels good.”

And it sounds even better. Produced by Marty Grebb, Wilderness weaves 12 tracks into a vivid tapestry. Each song speaks eloquently on its own, its message elevated by musicians such as Grebb on multiple instruments, steel guitarist James Pennebaker, harmonica virtuoso Mickey Raphael and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member James Burton guesting on guitar. Each player knows how to connect with and release the soul of a great song; no better example of their artistry exists than on Wilderness.

As different as each song is, they share themes, the most obvious being a fascination with being on the move. On “Rainy Day,” we eavesdrop on a customer at a diner, beckoning a waitress to leave with him on his bike in search of something beyond her sad routine. On “All I Really Want,” we meet a fisherman at the end of a long voyage, wanting nothing more than to return to his family and recover “what we really had,” though the fatalism he brings back from the sea casts doubt on whether he can attain his dream. “Angry Town” evokes somewhere left behind more in shadow than light through cryptic mention of two unread letters – yet this is all Riviere needs to convey the essences of regret and heartbreak.

The sense of journey amplifies through mention of places and events that have special resonance. A family leaves the Carolinas to “head for Ohio on the Wilderness Road” and far beyond, on “Destination Unknown.” The first apprehensions of a cause already lost haunt the thoughts of a Southern soldier near the end of the Civil War on “Alkali/Cold Harbor.” A more optimistic veteran of that conflict rushes Westward, drawn by visions of open land and a girl who forecasts of “all we can do under these blue mountain skies” on “Three Rivers.”

“The landscape is my metaphor,” Riviere explains. “This land, this world, is real and it’s breathing. That’s why, to me, this album is a lot like coming home. It takes me back to when I was a kid, living with my family in the country. It’s really where I want to be now. It’s where I learned to really appreciate wildlife and the landscape they depend on, and this is also where I began my musical journey.”



All I Really Want

Written By: Randy Riviere

The winter’s on the rails
The plaster and the nails
Back home

My senses all have failed
Still these hands send up these sails

Now all I really want
Is what we had

Little kids run out from town
See them gather all around
On shore

These arms have tossed the lines
Through Hell Station and the mines
What for?

Tell her I’ll be fine
Holding anchor and writing rhymes
Off shore

But for what I have not known
I’d join the bottom with the bones
In war

© 2008. Randy Riviere


Written By: Randy Riviere

Hello Ohio
Where is it that you want to go?
Is it down through these cities
Or out on the fields
Or all the way
To Westwego

Hello Ohio
All these stories to tell
About those sold down the river
The cannon and the quiver
And all those pilgrims could sell

Let’s roll back in time
See what we find
My friend
Let’s go back in time
Forget this grind
Old friend

Hello Ohio
Tell me where you’ve been
Under the hills of West Virginia?
Or an Allegheny moon?
Or the horses of Union men?

Yo, old Ohio
Take this load full of milo
Let’s roll old Ohio
Let’s go

© 2008 Randy Riviere

This World

Written By: Randy Riviere

Down in the valley
Up on The Hill
Out on the prairie
You can feel it still

Machines are turning
The heat is on
Red lights are burning
As we all run along

This world
This world
This world goes round and round and round

Soldiers are running
Twilight’s near
Headlights are coming
As we live in fear

The left is leaning
The right goes long
Good minds are bending
Between right and wrong

The children are playing
In the late summer sun
But the trees aren’t turning
As the new season comes

The desert is reeling
In burning sand
Is there heaven ever after
In this Holy land

© 2008 Randy Riviere

Destination Unknown

Written By: Randy Riviere

Carolina – home of that Englishman
Who built this old wagon behind my home
That’s still standing in the tall grass
Yeah, it was built to last
It made it all those miles over wood and stone

Hard oak and solid steel
A strong heart on iron wheels

His name was Levingood
He burned his name in the wood
Then sold it to a dealer up in Chapel Hill
Then a young family named Pendergast
Gave that man all their cash
And headed for the Ohio
On the Wilderness Road

Carolina was your home
But your destination was unknown

Built a farm on Kentucky grass
Man that land filled up fast
Then it was onto Missouri full of blacksmith tools

There a man named Murphy mused
How it pulled powder kegs and fuse
Then he made the best wagons for the emigrant trails

Down the line to Chimney Rock
And a Fort Laramie Stop
Where it hauled big-eyed miners to Alder Gulch

Then out on the Bozeman Road
Red Cloud lighted it’s load
And rolled it down a hill into Rosebud Creek

That wagon set along that prairie stream
Until 1933
When a sodbuster wanted all of that ground

Then back in ‘75
My old man brought it back alive
Then set it back down
And let the prairie heal … let it heal

© 2008 Randy Riviere

Little Walk

Written By: Randy Riviere

Tell my people
That I don’t know
Where I’m going
Or what I’ll have to show
But I’m gonna take a little walk
Take a little walk off this line

There ain’t no story
That’s been told
About this vocation
Or how to grow old
So I’m gonna take a little walk
Take a little walk off this line

Don’t know where I’m going girl
Or if I’ll make it there on time
Don’t know if I’ll get there babe
Or if we’ll have a nickel or a dime
I guess what I’m telling you is
There’s something left to find

Conveyor’s are running
Around the bend
Little widgets are running into
Colored bins
I’m gonna take a little walk
Take a little walk off this line

My body’s aching
My feet are numb
My head has been forsaken by
All this lacquer and rum
I’m gonna take a little walk
Take a little walk off this line

© 2008 Randy Riviere

Old Kentucky

Written By: Randy Riviere

Oh old Kentucky
You are my home
But I’ve been out on the fringes
For so long

Let me feel your fair wind
Through your grass let it blow
Oh hills of Kentucky
My home

Go on, go on, old Kentucky go on
Forgive all my troubles, all I’ve done wrong
I took all this treasure, and sold it for gold
Go on, old Kentucky, go on

There’s a fog on the valley
A smoke on the land
There’s a heart that’s been taken
And blood on my hands

There’s cards on the table
And a shell of a man
But these hills of Kentucky

There’s a rock on the prairie
A sight to behold
There’s a road across town
Where time’s bought and sold

If I had all those nickels
Would they warm what’s grown cold?
Oh, old Kentucky

© 2008 Randy Riviere


A Good Bad Road - Album
Fool Stand - Album
Wilderness - Album - now getting airplay across US and in Europe

Set List

2 one hour sets containing all original music written by Randy Riviere (Mad Buffalo) and found on albums: A Good Bad Road, Fool Stand, and Wilderness albums recorded by Mad Buffalo.