Sean Flynn found inspiration for his solo act in a bottle of whiskey. The 30-year-old musician decided that
while creating his folk project—American Buffalo Ghost—he wanted to use the idea of the buffalo
“out on the plains of the West.” “I guess I have this love of the idea or the dream of what that kind of America was, and I think the image of the buffalo is channeled into that,” Flynn said. “One day when I was writing some songs, I was having a glass of Buffalo Trace Whiskey and saw the bottle, and (the name) just kind of clicked. The whiskey convinced me that it was a good idea.” Flynn took some time to go On the Record to discuss the project, his new album and what it is like for him to work solo after being in a band for many years.
Q:Tell me about this new project, American Buffalo Ghost.What’s the sound like, and how does it differ from what you’ve done before?
A:The sound of American Buffalo Ghost is rooted in American folk and Americana music. It can go from a wide range of sounds, some of it bluegrass, old-time jazz, country, folk and blues. It’s just rooted in the very fabric of old-time American music and acoustic music. I think I essentially wanted to take the whole idea of “The Anthology of American Folk Music” and condense it down to one guitar and voice. I think that sound has always slipped into any kind of music I have ever played. It just happened. All the other music projects I have been involved with, I always winked at that sound, but with American Buffalo Ghost, it IS the sound.
Q: What made you decide to go solo?
A: I really think it stemmed from the fact that I was seeing a bunch of my friends in the local music scene go off and chase their passion projects, and they all turned out to be amazing. I just kind of felt it was the right time to do something like that. I have been part of the alt/punk scene for so long now, and I just wanted to spread my musical wings. I know this music, I love this music, and I should be able to play this
kind of music.
Q: What can you tell me about your album, “Songs of the Great Remember?”
A: People might find this odd or funny, but it really came about from a Steve Martin album. He has a bluegrass band, and one of his songs is called “The Great Remember for Nancy.” I would listen to that tune and just got lost in a world. I would create a whole little scene in my head, and it was so striking that I knew I wanted to capture that feeling. There is a song on (my) album called “September,” and the lyrics are basically just what I would see in my mind when I listen to that song. That song originally set the tone for the whole album, and it was going to be all kind of like that. As I worked on the album more, the songs started to change as they always do, but I made sure that that song stayed the same. The record is really wild in spots. There is some country honky-tonk stuff that sounds like a wild Saturday night, there are country ballad-type songs, there is a song that is straight up French Quarter in New Orleans and has horns and a ’20s sound, and there are songs on there that are just me finger picking alone.
Q: What is it like performing as a solo artist versus with a band?
A: I love it. I have no set lists when I play solo. I go off the room completely, and that dictates what I play. When I’m playing some bar shows, I’ll keep it up-tempo and play English drinking songs or old jazz songs that were made to be played in that type of place.When I’m playing a coffee house or an intimate place, I can break out the finger-picking songs and different types of covers. I was lucky enough to get some great
musicians to play with me, and we are starting to play shows here and there as a full American Buffalo
Q: What do you hope to achieve this year?
A: My goal is to get the album out to as many people as possible and get on the road more. I already am starting to get shows out of the NEPA area, so that is the start. I just want to keep getting better at my instrument and getting better as a songwriter. It doesn’t matter who you play to or where if the songs and performance aren’t genuine and solidified. That’s a goal I could spend my whole life chasing, and that’s what makes this so fun.