Burleson, Texas native Casey Donahew has worked hard to earn himself a position as one of Texas's premier country artists. Over the past decade he has made an impression on the Texas music scene gaining fans with his high energy live shows and songs that can be touching, heartfelt and humorous. He has independently released six critically acclaimed albums, including a live album, and topped the Texas charts on multiple occasions. On February 28th, he will be in NYC to headline the Texas Tailgate along with Reckless Kelly and Kevin Fowler. Casey graciously took the time to talk with us about longevity in the music business, touring and his renowned live shows.
You have been in the industry for over ten years now. Does the success that you have mean more being that you did it all independently?
I think there is definitely more of a feeling of accomplishment. I think that when you make it taking the long way, you get to stay around longer. I think there is some longevity included in the route that we have taken.
You have a very loyal and ever growing fan base which speaks to how the music and live shows must connect with the fans.
I have always been a big believer in the live show. When we started out, we had to go the underground route and focus on the live show because we had no support from radio or media. We wanted people to come to a show and be blown away by it so that they would tell their friends and come back again.
In some parts of the country, the Casey Donahew Band is a household name. Are you content with that or do you aim for mainstream radio airplay?
You know, we just want to keep growing our brand however possible. I don’t want anyone to take over or change the way we run our business. There are artists on independent labels, like the Zac Brown Band, who have somehow broken through the cracks of the chain of radio command and have had hits. They showed doing that isn't impossible, but it is still really tough for an independent artist to gather any momentum in mainstream radio. We would love to have one of our songs, that we wrote and produced the way we wanted it, on national radio. You just can't beat the exposure that mainstream radio gives, but we want to do it our way. If the time comes we'd open arm it, but we're not gonna chase it. We won't change the way we do things trying to make that happen.
You seem to be touring constantly. Have you adjusted the amount of time you spend on the road since you started out?
For the last six or seven years, we have really focused on travelling outside the state of Texas and expanding our markets. So the more the band grows out of Texas, it seems we are traveling more than we used to be. I have two little boys, which makes it difficult to leave. We are trying to find that happy medium of being home enough to justify being gone.
So then how do you like to spend your downtime?
I spend time with my family. My boys are three months old and five years old. I take my older son out hunting and we spend a lot of time playing outdoors. I am a big hunter, gun advocate and outdoorsman. I really just try to take it easy when we are not touring.
Your last album, Standoff, was released last April and it debuted at #7 on the Billboard Country Charts. Talk a little bit about the title and the cover art for the album.
The title is really a two part description. The first part is a description of our journey through the music business. It's crazy to think it has been eleven years. My wife has been my business manager from day one. She has done all of the hard work and we reap all of the benefits. As an independent artist, we made a business model and stuck to it even with everyone telling us what we should or shouldn't be doing. We did it our way and were able to be successful, but we still fight the daily battle for the Casey Donahew Band.
The second part is more of a political statement on the state of gun control in this country. As I said I am a big hunter and outdoorsman. We just wanted to make a statement that it's okay to stand up for the second amendment and support gun rights.
You have had two successful singles from the album, "Whiskey Baby" and "Small Town Love," which is currently doing very well on the Texas charts.
Yes, "Small Town Love" is #2 this week. We'd love for it to push up there and be another number one. We hope to have a third single, but we haven't really decided yet. We are grinding away writing songs and thinking about a new project. We have considered releasing a live album that we recorded at Red Rocks and maybe adding a couple new songs to go with that, but there are no final decisions on that yet.
Many of your songs have an element of humor. Is that important to you in your songwriting?
Definitely. Sometimes when you do stuff like that you'll catch a lot of flack from people who think every song has to change the state of the world or have some valiant, artistic meaning to it. I completely disagree. I like those songs too, and I think we have written songs like that; songs that really mean a lot to me and are powerful, but that’s not all we do. People want to come to a show to forget about their problems for awhile and have a good time. They don’t necessarily want to spend their time listening to yours. You know, we want people to have a good time.
You will be coming to NYC on February 28th to play the Texas Tailgate.
This will be our third trip to New York City. We have done the show twice with Pat Green, but this will be our first time headlining, so we are really excited about that for sure. It seems like there's a great Texas music fan base in New York City. It will be a great show, especially with Reckless Kelly and Kevin Fowler supporting us.
What can we expect from the show?
We made a name for ourselves from our live shows, that's how we survived this long. We bring an energy to the stage so that the show is exciting, keeps people entertained and gets people involved. We like that rowdy crowd.
What are you currently listening to?
I listen to a lot of different stuff, but lately I am listening to my buddy Cody Johnson. He is a young up and coming artist here in Texas. He's got a new record out called Cowboy Like Me and I've been listening to that.
The Texas Tailgate will be at Terminal 5 in NYC. Doors at 7pm, Show begins at 8pm. For more information and tickets visit here.
For more information on the Casey Donahew Band visit their website www.caseydonahewband.com
Follow them on Twitter @caseydband
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