Fossil’s Seth Brewster and his partner Kate Eisenhooth are Buffalo Kin. Their first album “Wild Open Country” is available on streaming platforms
Seth Brewster says he doesn’t want to be famous. He maintains that the album that he just created with his longtime partner Kate Eisenhooth is not to get acclaim or recognition. It’s more of a “bucket list” kind of thing.
But its hard to ignore the potential.
Brewster and Eisenhooth are Buffalo Kin – the duo that create intimate songs with great lyrics that embody the American West. Their sound is described as “Western Noir” on Soundcloud.
In January, Buffalo Kin released their first album “Wild Open Country.”
Think of it as a soundtrack to Wheeler County.
Despite the band’s local feel, the couple are originally from rural Pennsylvania. Seth grew up in Meadville and Kate thirty-five miles away – near Amish country. Both have been active in music and the arts from a young age.
In 2012, Seth came to Oregon and taught music with the ETHOS program in Condon and then moved to Fossil, where he currently resides. Seth teaches music at Wheeler High School. Kate was close behind and settled in Forest Grove and has worked at Pacific University.
It wasn’t until they moved to Oregon that they began to play music together. Initially for fun and then in small groups, Seth and Kate began to develop their unique sound and style.
Each year, when work let out for the summer, Buffalo Kin was reborn and their sound continued to improve and evolve.
Last summer, Buffalo Kin got the attention of Stetson and were sponsored by the giant of western wear. Ginew, a Native American jeans and clothing company, also came knocking. Buffalo Kin began to get noticed and did a summer tour with gigs in Joseph, Bend and in Portland.
But getting noticed wasn’t on Buffalo Kin’s agenda. It is the sound that is important.
Brewster says that he and Kate set their mind to making an album and that they wrote the songs in a month’s time.
Recorded in Brewster’s home, which he rents from Will Bowerman, Buffalo Kin recorded “Wild Open Country” in less than two days.
The album, in short, is wonderful. Brewster and Eisenhooth harmonize beautifully and each track offers something unique and different. The sound is soft and warm – which is what Brewster was going for.
Seth says that originally, he wanted to record the album himself using an old reel to reel tape recorder from “Cowboy Steve,” who resides in Fossil. However, the machine had aged and Seth struggled to get it to record at a high quality.
So, Seth and Kate turned to Bart Budwig, a sound engineer and musician who resides in the OK Theatre in Enterprise, Oregon.
Budwig has gained a reputation as a top sound engineer in the area. He uses analog equipment from a bygone era – which simply cannot be outdone. Using ribbon-microphones that were pioneered in the early 1960s, Budwig has the sound that Buffalo Kin was looking for.
Budwig says that he typically records inside of the OK Theatre but due to renovations of the historic venue, he traveled to Fossil and recorded the album in Brewster’s home, which many know as the “Hoover House.”
Budwig says that Buffalo Kin knew exactly what they wanted and that they were a pleasure to work with.
“Seth has a very good ear and is very particular,” Budwig says. He added, “It took a bit to get it just how he liked it.”
Budgwig says he felt a good sound could be achieved in Seth’s house. “I’m good at using spaces,” Budwig says, “and the living room at Seth’s house sounded good so that’s where we setup.”
Most of the songs are originals – stripped down with a guitar or banjo which allow for the vocal talents of Brewster and Eisenhooth to shine through.
The song “Punch N’ Drive” and “Juniper Ridge” showcase Brewster’s talent as a guitarist. The sound of the guitar is deep and at times full of melancholy and at others brightness.
“Out on the Western Plains” – a cover of Leadbelly, perfectly captures the haunting spirit of the album.
The couple also show their strength in writing powerful lyrics to accompany the lonesome sound of Brewster’s guitar.
In the song “Derecho” Seth sings “I was born on the Prairie Ridge,” with Kate joining in, singing “ain’t no kin to call my name.” It sets a mood without a doubt. The song continues – “black crow singing on a leanin’ frame, coyote callin’ on me to play.” It is a sound and style that many shoot for but few are able to pull off.
Locals have been gushing over the album but when offering praise, Brewster shrugs. “I won’t listen to it anymore,” he says while sitting at his dining table in Fossil. After listening to it during the mixing and mastering process, Brewster says he got ear fatigue. Incredibly, he says that he dreads to play the songs again.
Seeing his songs next to artists from major labels and on major platforms also took some time to get used to.
“Since we went through a major distributor, it’s everywhere,” Brewster says. “And that’s kinda freaking me out because our page is right next to stuff that went to a huge studio.”
To release the album, Buffalo Kin had to start an LLC, and had to join the Musicians Guild to perform some of the songs as covers on their album.
Seth says that he and Kate wanted to release the album for free but that the costs of releasing it required them to charge for the album and to recoup costs.
Brewster says that he is ready to focus on the next project and to make new music. Driving through Wheeler County provides the spark of inspiration he is searching for.
“Driving out by Winlock,” gets the creative juices flowing, he says.
It is this process of finding the sound and the music that Brewster is chasing – not fame.
“Playing the Sisters Folk Festival is making it big for us,” Seth says.