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Steamboat Magazine

Steamboat's Favorite Frontman

02/24/2022 12:14PM ● By Sophie Dingle

Years ago, at the now-defunct Ristretto Coffee Lounge, Tyree Woods – lead singer and guitarist of local soul grass band Buffalo Commons – was paid for a performance in coffee beans. Now Woods and his band perform on stages across Colorado and the West, earning real money – quite the upgrade from beans. 


Growing up in Muskegon, Michigan, Woods’ love of music began in the Baptist church. He thought he was going to be a football player, but when he moved to San Diego to pursue an athletic career, he discovered that he actually liked playing music better than playing football. 


When he landed an opportunity to play at Jazz Fest in New Orleans with a band called Rebirth Brass Band, he was hooked. But then, Hurricane Katrina hit. 


“I was watching footage of these people who were so welcoming to me,” Woods remembers. “They were on the roofs of their cars, begging for help like third world refugees. I told myself I was going to join the military so that I could help.” 


Woods did join the military, and stayed for a decade. Deployed on multiple tours, he always found a way to get his hands on a guitar. After being injured in combat during his last tour, he ended his service in 2014. 


“While I was in the service, I was telling myself that once I got out, life was going to be so great,” Woods recalls. “But actually it was one of the hardest adjustment periods of my life. I was searching for something that made me feel like Tyree again, rather than Sergeant Woods.” 


Music was that thing. Woods, now living with PTSD and a Traumatic Brain Injury, moved to Steamboat. One of his songs, titled “Monday,” describes his experiences in combat.   


“I went to open mic night at Old Town Pub,” he says. “I didn’t know anyone, and I was scared to death. It felt like I was doing something impossible. Everything in me was telling me not to do it. But I did it and I felt proud and strong and like there was still hope for this next chapter.” 


From there, Woods’ music career began to flourish as Buffalo Commons came together, gaining members one by one. Feeling alone as a civilian, part of the reason that Woods wanted to start a band was to feel that connection again – one that he had shared with his platoon during ten years of military service. 


And although Woods struggles with memory issues from his traumatic brain injury, he’s always been able to remember hundreds of song lyrics.  


“For some reason they stay in my head forever,” Woods says. “I didn’t know how I would make that beneficial in my adult life but I guess I figured it out!” 



The band, whose music genre Woods likes to refer to as ‘soul grass,’ has a unique sound with bluegrass vibes – a style that Woods picked up after moving to Steamboat because “that’s what everyone was playing.” 


He remembers a time when the band would play a set, take a break, and then play the same set all over again because they only had six songs. Now, they have the ability to perform multiple nights without repeating a single song. This winter, they will tour with Yonder Mountain String Band and grace the stage at Steamboat’s own WinterWonderGrass. 


“If you had told me ten years ago that I would be the lead singer for a bluegrass band, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Woods says. “There were times when I didn’t fully believe in myself, but I believed in the music. I believe it because it’s my heart and soul.”