Daniel Donato: Cosmic Country

Americana Award nominee Daniel Donato, is touring the Blue Ridge riding cosmic western style with about seven different guitars strapped to his back.

A new player emerges in the instrumental-experimental-roots music world and at 23-years-old, has already established his own sound and a place as one of the greats. It all began just outside of Nashville in a friend’s basement and a knack for Guitar Hero.

Soon after nailing songs like “Fire Through the Flames” on Guitar Hero, Donato tried his hand at playing guitar around age 12 and discovered an incredible talent that would bring him to operating as the guitarist for multiple Nashville acts like The Don Kelley Band.

Diving headfirst into Nashville’s exaggerated music scene, Donato continued to perform, nourishing his ever-growing love for songwriting and guitar skillset. This has led the young musician to sign to William Morris Endeavors as “an artist with a docket of jam-ready country and bluegrass songs.”

Now, Donato and his three-piece, “Cosmic Country Band,” are bringing cosmic country to our region. His next show being Feb 13 at the Grey Eagle is Asheville, NC. See his full list of tour dates HERE.

Cosmic Country [koz-mik kuhn-tree] noun: a catch-all term for experimental roots music, often assisted by electronic sounds

We asked Donato a few questions about his unique start in the musical world and the excitement of his tour, Cosmic Country.

BRO: What got you started in music?

Daniel Donato: Guitar Hero. My friends were great skateboarders. I was terrible. We used to turn on this game after school. I was naturally just into it more than anyone else I knew. That wild hair led to picking up a real guitar eventually. 

BRO: Your talent started to grow around age 14. Did you always know you wanted to grow up to be a musician?

Daniel Donato: I always knew I wanted to fulfill my talent and potential in whatever I did. Music happened to be the vast landscape for me to do such things with. 

BRO: How would you describe the biggest differences in experience between playing as an instrumentalist vs. a vocalist? 

Daniel Donato: Breathing. With guitar, you can tense up and reach that special place. With vocals, you have to control your breath. Therefore, you can control everything. 

BRO: If you were stranded on an island, which one of your guitars would you choose to have with you?

Daniel Donato: My trusty Seafoam Green Fender Custom Telecaster. 

BRO: You’ve jammed with a lot of well-known artists like Billy Strings. Is there an impactful moment out of some of those experiences that stands out to you?

Daniel Donato: The impactful moment is the same from great player to great player. That is, truth. The presence of truth is a sensation that hits fast and runs deep. It is good to be struck with it. Playing with players of the caliber like Billy reminds me of that, and pushes me to radiate the same energy. 

BRO: Where would you say you get most of your inspiration for songs from?

Daniel Donato: Processing life. Thinking about it, going back to moments in my mind, and finding moments in time that everyone can take something from. That’s where it starts. 

BRO: I saw your Tik Tok, what will you do if your Tik Tok career surpasses your musical career?

Daniel Donato: My musical career and TikTok career are both being Daniel Donato. I might just have to wear more Supreme and Jordan 1’s if the TikTok game blows up. 

BRO: Where does your tour name #cosmiccountry come from?

Daniel Donato: It is the name of my sound. People always ask if I’m in a band. Even more potential is to be had if you have your own sound. I also wanted to give people something they can identify me with that isn’t my name. We’re in the hashtag world now. I love alliteration, the Grateful Dead, and Country music. That is where it all came from, for me! 

BRO: That Fender Telecaster video is KILLER. What was the process like creating that guitar battle? NEXT QUESTION: Who won?

Daniel Donato: The consumers won! Plus 14 year old Daniel is winning because his dreams were doing that exact thing. Tyler Bryant and I have a great synergy already, so crafting that song was easy. We just let it fly like we were superheroes. 

BRO: What are some big dreams/ goals for you? 

Daniel Donato: To sell out a residency at The Ryman. That is where I first started busking for tips when I was 14. 

BRO: Are you more of a Hippie or a Cowboy? Or a Hippie Ki-Yay (which is both)?

Daniel Donato: OMG, love that phrase. I’m both in the sense I am pursuing my own path, carving my own way, trying to fulfill my character’s potential to the highest degree possible. I’m cowboy by day, hippie by night. Yeehaw!

Places to Go, Things to See: