Michael Buffalo Smith is an author, music journalist, and performing songwriter from Spartanburg, SC. He grew up there during the heat of the seventies Southern Rock boom at a time when his hometown heroes The Marshall Tucker Band were at the top of their game. Even then, Buffalo was sowing the seeds that would one day find him referred to the “Ambassador of Southern Rock.”
Buffalo worked many jobs as newspaper editor, features writer, columnist, sports reporter, layout designer and more along with many years in radio as an announcer, copy writer, DJ and production coordinator. He also logged several years as a radio air personality catering to the sounds of the beautiful south while singing and playing his own music on weekends, and recording five albums that featured many of the stars of Southern Rock, including Bonnie Bramlett, Pete Carr, George McCorkle, Tommy Crain, JoJo Billingsley, and John D. Wyker.
In 1997 Buffalo’s first book was published by Marshall Tucker Entertainment of Beverly Hills, CA. Carolina Dreams: The Musical Legacy of Upstate SC is a history of the MTB and all the other great music that came from the region. Smith began writing for various regional and national publications including The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Spartanburg Herald Journal, The Greenville Journal, Y’all, Relix, Mojo, Hittin The Note, Discoveries, and Goldmine where he became the “go to” writer for all things Southern rock. He created several 10,000 word cover stories including features on The Allman Brothers Band, Marshall Tucker, Charlie Daniels, and Gov’t Mule (in their first ever magazine cover story.) He also wrote many features on everything from surf music to Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, Kansas, Koko Taylor, Frank Zappa and record collecting, as well as hundreds of album reviews.
In 1998, Buffalo founded the online magazine GRITZ and began a ride that lasted over 12 years, including three years as a glossy print magazine. During the GRITZ years, Buffalo conducted countless interviews and wrote hundreds of features, reviews and columns/blogs. In 2006 he joined forces with another internet site and continued doing what he does best, writing about Southern music. When CMT needed a Southern Rock authority to appear on their Outlaw Country and Southern Rock special, they enlisted Buffalo. He was later featured on the documentary section of the Shout! Factory release Live from the Garden State by The Marshall Tucker Band.
Released in September, 2012, Prisoner of Southern Rock, with a foreword by Billy Bob Thornton, was published by the prestigious Mercer University Press of Macon, Georgia. His second book on the Mercer imprint, Rebel Yell: An Oral History of Southern Rock, followed in October, 2014. He has also self-published a 500-page collection of his Southern Rock interviews and an equally massive sequel, as well as a book on the Greenville Memorial Auditorium (Greenville, SC) called The Brown Box, and a memoir about his days as a fan of the band KISS, called First Kiss.
He is also working on a collection of southern based fiction short stories, a Southern novel, a collection of children's stories, and a screenplay. He also publishes a quarterly magazine called KUDZOO, dealing with southern music and life.
Michael received his very first guitar at the age of seven, a toy Roy Rogers model. Apparently, Smith was less than interested at the time, since the instrument was left outside, leaning against a tall pine tree, and exposed to rain, sleet and snow for about a month. When Michael finally remembered the guitar, it was nothing more than a pile of warped wood and plastic. At the age of ten, Michael was given a set of drums by his parents after begging for almost a year. Unfortunately, the begging lasted much longer than the drums did. After a week or two of trying to play them, Michael awoke one morning to find the drums had mysteriously disappeared. So much for pounding the skins around the Smith household.
He later got a Tiesco guitar and a small plastic amp from K-Mart, thanks to his Mom and Dad and sister Patsy. That instrument was the turning point for young Michael, as he fooled around with it, posing in front of the mirror, and learning a couple of barre chords. He would sit and watch TV with his dad, shows like "Hee Haw" and "Austin City Limits," trying to play along by ear. By now, he had learned how to tune a guitar, "kind of."
During the seventies, Michael became friends with a high school class mate named Doug Hooper, and spent a lot of time at Hooper's house. Doug was/is a great guitarist, and Michael was trying to learn the bass guitar (a gift from his sister Patsy). He never was cut out for bass, but Doug's encouragement and influence made Smith even more interested in becoming a guitar player.
In years to come, Michael would take some money from an insurance claim following injory in a car wreck and buy a Yamaha acoustic guitar, and a Marshall Tucker Band Anthology songbook. Between learning the chords to several of the MTB songs from the diagrams, and being shown a couple of chords by a friend (Bobby Smith) that worked with Michael at the grocery store, Smith learned to play "a little bit." As a bit more time passed, Michael began to learn lead patterns from his albums, and spent an entire weekend learning the twin-lead from "Jessica" by The Allman Brothers Band. He was sincerely proud of that one.
While working as sound man and songwriter for a local band group called Silver Travis in the early 1980's, Michael began to learn more and more guitar as he co-wrote songs with Steve Harvey. A little later, the band employed Stuart Swanlund (later a member of The Marshall Tucker Band) as guitarist. Stuart gave Michael lots of confidence, and it helped him through the rejection. Stuart's positive attitude caused Michael to pursue his guitar playing even more.
While attending college in Spartanburg, Michael ran across a guitar playing cat named Gregg Yeary, and the two started getting together to learn covers of everything from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Marshall Tucker, from The Stray Cats to Bruce Springsteen. The two also began to write together. Soon, Gregg met David Haddox, a legendary drummer who had been the teacher to a 15 year old red-headed wonder named Paul T. Riddle, who would go on to fame and fortune with The Marshall Tucker Band. David was also touring drummer with "The Killer," Jerry Lee Lewis. Pulling Michael's old friend from Silver Travis, Joey Parrish, into the mix, the band became The Buffalo Hut Coalition.
The BHC played everywhere, from clubs to festivals and private parties, and went through a series of bass players (among them Joey Parrish, Ernie Greene, Lee Ridings, Allen Heavrin and C.P. Owens), while Smith, Yeary and Haddox held together. In years to come, there would be several other bands in Michael B's future, including Frontline, a regrouping of The Buffalo Hut, and Michael B. & The Stingers. Smith also performed as half of a duet and appeared solo in the singer-songwriter mode.
After dual surgeries and an extended hospital stay to battle a life-threatening bacterial infection during the summer of '98, and into '99, Smith announced in April, 1999 that he was again healthy enough to return to the stage. He began to appear solo as well as joining local favorites True Blues onstage. More health issues would plague Buffalo in the next few years, making his personal appearances sporatic at best. In 2013 he began work on writing a new album.
Smith has appeared on stage with Bonnie Bramlett (Delaney & Bonnie); Spooner Oldham; Billy Bob Thornton and The Boxmasters; The Marshall Tucker Band; The Charlie Daniels Band; Molly Hatchet; The Winters Brothers Band; Paul Thorn; Tommy Crain & The Crosstown Allstars; The Crawlers; Ed King (Lynyrd Skynyrd); Tommy Talton (Cowboy); Jerry LaCroix (Edgar Winter's White Trash/Rare Earth); Bobby Whitlock (Derek & The Dominoes); Jimmy Hall, Jack Hall and Donna Hall (Wet Willie); George McCorkle (Marshall Tucker Band); Paul Riddle (Marshall Tucker Band); Jerry Eubanks (Marshall Tucker Band); Chris Hicks (MTB); Tony Heatherly (MTB); Sparky (Lynyrd Skynyrd/CDB); Denny Walley (Frank Zappa); Montgomery Gentry; Dave Hlubek (Molly Hatchet); Billy C. Farlow (Commander Cody); Mark Emerick (Commander Cody); Jakson Spires (Blackfoot); Jay Johnson (Rossington Band); Charles Hart (Radio Tokyo); Artimus Pyle (Lynyrd Skynyrd); Timmy Lindsey (Molly Hatchet/Lynyrd Skynyrd); Steve Grisham (Outlaws/Ghost Riders); Randall Hall (Lynyrd Skynyrd); Mike Estes (Lynyrd Skynyrd); Tim Neely (Humble Pie); Dru Lombar (Grinderswitch); Larry Howard (Grinderswitch); Stuart Swanlund, Ace Allen (Marshall Tucker Band); Donnie Winters (Winters Bros. Band); John D. Wyker; Jimmy Dormire (Confederate Railroad); Rob Walker (Stillwater); Stephen Foster; Rick Moore & Mr. Lucky; Stephen Nichols (Days of Our Lives "Patch"); The Crawlers; The Southern Rock Allstars; The Trunk Band; among others.
He has opened for Paul Thorn, David Alan Coe, The Charlie Daniels Band, Molly Hatchet, Bad Company, The Marshall Tucker Band, Blackfoot, Brian Howe, The Southern Rock Allstars, New Legacy Duo and others.
Over 25 years of writing experience, mostly music, movies, books and entertainment related writing, as well as feature articles on interesting people of all types. Bands, reviews, interviews, features. Also written articles on travel, collecting. food, technolgy southern lifestyles, and more. Interviewed hundreds of celebrities, including George Harrison, Billy Bob Thornton, Gregg Allman, Joan Jett, The Black Crowes, KISS, Hank Williams, Jr, and many others.
Smith has also designed newsletters, written in-house articles, crafted press releases and written web content and press materials for many clients in Upstate South Carolina.
Founder, Publisher, Editor of KUDZOO Magazine (Southern Music, Food and Life) 2011- current. Wrote 90% of content. Interviews, Features, Reviews. Did all of the layout and design and much of the photography.
Founder, Publisher, Editor of GRITZ Magazine (Southern Music) 1998 - 2010 Wrote 75% of content. Interviews, Features, Reviews. Did all of the layout and design and much of the photography.
MAC proficient since 1991. Website design, layout, Photoshop, QuarkXpress, more. Many years editing experience, both online and print magazines and newspapers.
Rolling Stone Magazine (CD Reviews)
Twisted South Magazine (Cover story on Billy Bob Thornton, feature interview with Unknown Hinson, CD reviews)
Goldmine Magazine (Cover stories on Kansas, Allman Brothers, Edgar Winter, Koko Taylor, Charlie Daniels, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Major features of Surf Music, Alvin Lee, John Kay. Hundreds of CD and DVD reviews, book reviews.
Sandlapper (Northgate Soda Shop, Folk Artist Bob Jones, Edwin McCain)
Mojo (Ritchie Havens, Lonnie Mack)
Relix (Marshall Tucker Band, Robert Randolph)
Hittin The Note (Dru Lombar, Toy Caldwell)
Blue Suede News (Rockabilly Hall of Fame, Bobby Lowell)
Bands of Dixie (France) numerous articles and interviews with Southern rockers Y’all (Online) Church Signs, On The Road with Marshall Tucker, The Allman Brothers
The Atlanta Journal Constitution - Marshall Tucker, The Allman Brothers
The Spartanburg Herald Journal - Freelance. Joan Jett, KISS, Roy Buchanan, local sports
The Greenville Journal - Travel, food, features, CD Reviews, interviews with Edgar Winter, Black Crowes, Warren Haynes
• Fix it in the Mix: A Memoir of Paul Hornsby (co-written with Hornsby) (Mercer, August 2020)
• The Buffalo Reader: Collected Columns, Rants & Southern Accents (Lulu, 2020)
• The Road Goes on Forever: 50 Years of Allman Brothers Band Music (Mercer, 2019)
• From Macon to Jacksonville: More Conversations in Southern Rock (Mercer, 2017)
• Capricorn Rising: Conversations in Southern Rock (Mercer, 2016)
• Rebel Yell: An Oral History of Southern Rock (Mercer, 2014)
• First KISS: My 40 Year Obsession with The Hottest Band In The World (Lulu, 2013)
• Prisoner of Southern Rock: A memoir (Mercer, 2012)
• The Brown Box: Remembering Greenville Memorial Auditorium (Lulu, 2010)
• Outlaws, Rebels & Renegades II (Lulu, 2010) (Out of Print)
• Outlaws, Rebels & Renegades (Lulu, 2007) (Out of Print)
• Carolina Dreams: The Musical Legacy of Upstate South Carolina (Marshall Tucker Entertainment 1996)
Traveler, the Silver Travis Band (2018)
The Unexplainable Billy Eli, Billy Eli (2015)
Dixie Tabernacle (Storm Dog Records, 2009)
Midnight Wind, Charlie Daniels Band (Remastered) (Raven, 2009)
Where a Country Boy Belongs, The Marshall Tucker Band (Shout! Factory, 2006)
Bouganvillia’s Call: The Best of Dickey Betts, Dickey Betts (Raven, 2006);
One Monkey Don’t Spoil The Show, Silver Travis Band (2005)
Stompin’ Room Only, The Marshall Tucker Band (Shout! Factory, 2004)
Stars and Bars Various Artists (Z Rox, Great Britain, 2002)
University of South Carolina, Studied Theatre and Acting, Creative writing
University of South Carolina, Upstate BA in Theatrical Arts, minor in Journalism
Spartanburg Methodist College, AA in Liberal Arts