From riding and roping, Texan Casey Donahew found his true calling in the lyrics he writes and the music he plays straight from the heart. In college, he first heard Pat Green play at a party at his fraternity. Donahew recognized Green’s gift – the ability to connect to his audience on a personal level while putting on a great show.
“Pat Green was really the guy who started it all for me in college. He just did a great job connecting with fans, and later on when we started playing, we really tried to mirror how he did that. He was one of those guys who I thought was a great entertainer, and really told stories that people wanted to hear and could relate to, and I think that’s what made him so popular.”
Donahew had grown up listening to George Strait and watching Garth Brooks playing the stage as well as his guitar. His influences weren’t all country. Matchbox 20, whose first CD helped him through rough times of his own, and Bon Jovi, whose goal is to play the desert and sell it out, are on his list of influential artists.
“First there was George Strait, and then here came this guy from Oklahoma, Garth Brooks. And you’d see George standing there playing guitar, but then Garth comes along running all over the stage, playing guitar and singing all these songs that he wrote. And the thing I was always most enamored with about Garth was that he wrote most of those songs. He was just one of those guys who did it all. And he started in Stillwater, not too far from the Red Dirt scene. You could really take a lot of Garth Brooks songs and put ‘em on a record of mine, and I think it would fit right in.”
It was also in college when Donahew discovered Matchbox 20. Their songs resonated with him – they helped him through hard times and situations, as he hopes his songs guide others through their own difficulties. “Stockyards,” from his first CD, is one such song. It represents the North side of Fort Worth, the bars, the streets, and all the history that comes back each time he plays the tune. Fans can relate, remembering their own histories.
And Donahew can relate to Bon Jovi’s take on the music business. They share similar concerns and dreams.
“He’s played lots of little intimate shows, but the shows he loves, are the huge ones. You know he says he’d like to play the desert and sell it out. That’s always stuck with me…I don’t want to play a small place, I want to play the desert and sell it out!”
The band’s first album, Lost Days, was recorded with four instruments, one vocal, and no harmonies. With 15 Years: The Wild Ride, Donahew was finally able to rerecord fan favorites the way he always wanted. The fifteen songs include the biggest songs to date – hits like “Fallen,” “12 Gauge,” and “Double Wide Dream.” Another song is a new recording of Matchbox 20’s “3 AM” – a tune the band always plays in their live set. Other number ones, including “Let’s Not Say Goodbye Again,” “One Star Flag,” “Lovin’ Out of Control,” “Small Town Love,” and “Whiskey Baby,” are also on their newest release. Donahew and Josh Leo (Alabama, Drew Baldridge, Love and Theft) co-produced the album. Together the songs cover the time from his first gig at the Thirsty Armadillo to stops all across the country.
Tracklist for 15 Years: The Wild Ride
2. “Double Wide Dream”
3. “Nowhere Fast”
4. “Runaway Train”
5. “Ask Me To Stay”
7. “No Doubt”
8. “Back Home In Texas”
9. “Shine on Me”
10. “3 AM”
11. “12 Gauge”
12. “Alabama Slammer”
14. “White Trash Story”
JOIN Casey Donahew for a Twitterview Q&A on Monday, November 20th starting at 9pET/6pPT. You can RSVP here.