It’s easy to understand why Randy Riviere‘s music often has a landscape setting.
The roots-rock singer/songwriter/guitarist who records under the name Mad Buffalo has a master’s degree in wildlife biology, and his nonmusic career includes contributing to the preservation of 40,000-plus acres as permanent wildlife conservation easements for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“[The landscape] is a very natural theme for me,” says Riviere, who splits his time between Montana and Washington. “It is always on my mind, but actually, I spend quite a bit of effort trying to diffuse it. I don’t want to bore everybody with my issues and do try hard to produce a diverse album with a variety of subject matter and melodies.”
Mad Buffalo’s latest album is the self-released Wilderness, which follows 2004’s A Good Bad Road and 2006’s Fool Stand. On Wilderness, Riviere says he enjoyed exploring his country side in depth, and the experience reminded him of his days growing up on a small farm in Northern California.
Wilderness producer Marty Grebb brought in guitar legend James Burton to play on the songs “Little Walk” and “Destination Unknown.” Riviere knows all about Burton’s extensive resume, and he’s quick to point out the man known for his “chicken picking” style spent a number of years playing with John Denver.
Speaking of Denver, Riviere realized not long after Denver’s death how much the “Rocky Mountain High” singer influenced him as a junior high school student.
“The whole image, I guess – music, the mountains, the hiking boots, all of it – seemed very cool to me at the time, and I’m now convinced he did influence my feelings for the landscape, music and my career choices later on,” Riviere explains.
“I had the pleasure of being able to tell this story to Burton, and I think he appreciated it very much. He said that Denver was one of the nicest folks he ever worked with.”
— By Chris M. Junior