Casey Donahew has been making his mark in the Texas music scene for many years. Now with his latest album All Night Party, he is ready to show that he is more than just a Red Dirt act. CMChat spoke with Donahew just before the album’s release and found out more about it, his sound, and what motivates him as a performer.
Donahew’s music career has been slowly evolving over the last decade. He says he didn’t set out to be a singer, it just kind of organically happened.
“I liked to write songs when I was younger and I didn’t really play guitar until I was 18. I went to college and my roommate played and I thought it kind of gave me the bug. My grandpa played guitar and he gave me a guitar so I could play. I taught myself how to play and then slowly kind of worked into putting the guitar with some of the songs I had written.”
Donahew explains that he started playing at the Thirsty Armadillo in the Ft. Worth Stockyards every Wednesday night for about a year while he honed his sound and eventually put together a band.
“It’s kind of one of those things that we just took year to year. My wife has been our manager the whole time we’ve done this and it was always one of those things where we just kind of got to the end of the year and looked back and if we were making progress and things were still growing, we were going to keep doing it. And here we are 14 years later.”
Donahew describes his sound as “Rockin’ Country” and with so many different sub genres in the country world today such as Red Dirt, Alt-Country and Americana, in addition to the Mainstream Country we hear on the radio, his meaning of what is country comes down to storytelling.
“It’s so crazy. I think a lot of people are struggling to answer what country music is. I think a lot of it for me is driven by the content. You know, I still love cowboy music. That’s something that really drives what I do. There’s several of those songs on most of our records and three or so on this record. That still says country music to me. I love that 80s Garth Brooks, George Strait sound and when I think of country music, that’s what I think of. To me that’s just country music.”
Hailing from Burleson, TX, Donahew got his start in the Texas music scene where he has sold out many venues including Billy Bob’s Texas and he sees a difference in the music out of Texas compared to Nashville.
“It’s so diverse, even in Texas. Nashville and Texas both have these broad range of bands and sounds that get lumped into country music. I think a big difference is the songwriting. I think a lot of people are doing original music in the Texas scene. A lot of people are, I would say, singer/songwriters that have written most of their songs. I think there are still some of those guys in Nashville that are singer/songwriters but there’s lots of guys that are more performance based.”
Donahew has released four independent albums that have produced 12 No. 1 singles on the Texas music charts and along the way he has gained a large fan following. With his fifth album, All Night Party, he hopes to keep those loyal fans still loving his music but branching out to reach more people who many not have heard him yet.
“I always want to make Casey Donahew records. This time we got a producer and we made a more polished Casey Donahew record. I think if you are fan of what we’ve done in the past then you’re going to be a fan of this record. I don’t think we did anything too out of the box. There’s still cowboy music, still country music. It’s a lot of fun music.”
Donahew wrote eight of the 10 songs on All Night Party but he says his favorite would probably be the heartfelt ballad “Josie Escalido.”
“I don’t think it will be the most popular song, definitely not going to be a radio single or anything. It’s just sometimes you write songs that mean more to you. It’s one of those storytelling songs that I’m proud of. The way it came out with the mariachi sound and the horns, it just kind of has a life of its own. Some of my favorite songs are the ones that you can kind of see in your mind as you’re hearing them.”
The first single off the record is the fun, up-tempo song “Kiss Me.” The line in the chorus “I’ve been waiting on you to kiss me, waiting on you to make your move” is a catchy hook that gets stuck in your head while the music makes you want to dance around the room from the very start of the song.
“Hopefully it can stand on its own on major radio. I think it’s got a different sound. It’s a fun song and I think it works for guys and girls both. Hopefully it’s unique enough that people give it a chance.”
The band is staying busy taking “Kiss Me” to radio stations all over the country to try to get more national exposure, in addition to keeping their regular tour schedule. Donahew says playing the live show is still his favorite part.
“That’s what keeps me going. That’s what motivates me and keep me excited. It’s not as glamourous of a lifestyle as you think. Spending half your life in a 400 square foot moving locker room with 10 guys isn’t as fun as it sounds. A lot of bad food, a lot of bad truck stops, bad hotels. We do it all for the music.”
Find more information on Casey Donahew at www.caseydonahew.com and follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Download All Night Party on iTunes then tweet me @shanherrold and let me know your favorite song on the album.