Daniel Donato may only be 25-years-old, but it almost feels like he’s past due for a debut album. That’s how much this Telecaster-slinging wunderkind has accomplished while most of us were still stuck somewhere between waiting tables and graduate school applications. Already a much-deserved nominee for the Americana Music Association’s Instrumentalist of the Year in 2018 (the kid can downright blaze Tele licks), and having played some 2,000 shows, don’t let the fresh face fool you. Donato’s more seasoned than some 40-year-olds.
A Nashville native, Daniel Donato got the music bug in a very generic way—playing Guitar Hero. But it led to a lifelong obsession to try and become the best guitar player in the world, which led him to busking on Lower Broadway in Nashville eight hours a day during weekends while he was still in High School, and later sneaking into Robert’s Western World to behold the magic of The Don Kelley Band. After lots of persistence, Don Kelley signed up Daniel Donato as a lead guitar player, and Daniel played some 450 shows with the outfit before being snatched up as a touring asset for performers like Paul Cauthen.
Marinated in all of those old school country music classics one must know to hold court with The Don Kelley Band for four straight hours, while also being influenced by a Grateful Dead obsession that started when a high school teacher passed him a bunch of bootlegs, it’s all coming together in Daniel Donato’s debut album A Young Man’s Country out August 7th. Bridging the imaginary divide between Merle Haggard and Jerry Garcia, the enterprising Donato is hoping to put his signature stamp on American roots music.
“[The bootlegs] gave me a tie to all of the classic country gold I’d been working down at the honky-tonks each weekend,” says Donato. “Grateful Dead and Merle Haggard had always lived in my heart, but now, the link was made, and I had a vision on how to keep it alive for this generation that I am coming from.”
Comprised mostly of originals, Donato also covers “Ain’t Living Long Line This” by Waylon Jennings, The Grateful Dead’s “Fire On The Mountain,” and John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” on the album. A Young Man’s Country was produced by guitarist Robben Ford, and was recorded at The Sound Emporium in Nashville.
Ahead of the new album, Daniel Donato has released the song “Luck of the Draw” which gives you a great indication of what you can expect, from ripping and twangy guitar, to a little bit of psychedelia, and Daniel’s confident voice and strong writing.
This is one you’ll want to get on your radar.
2. Always Been a Lover
3. Meet Me in Dallas
4. Fire On The Mountain
5. Luck of The Draw
6. Broke Down
7. Angel From Montgomery
8. Sweet Tasting Tennessee
9. Diamond In The Rough
10. Forgotten Days
11. Ain’t Living Long Like This