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Considering buying a ticket for a Casey Donahew Band show? Strap yourself into your boots. For an act that doesn’t have the production that master showman Garth Brooks had, the Texas six-piece manages to whip their audience into a frenzy that parallels any that greeted Garth in his heyday. All in the confines of some of the hottest honky-tonks in the Lone Star State and Oklahoma. But that’s about to change.
Gradually, Casey and his band have infiltrated the Midwest and Southeast with their high-octane show. “For some reason, we seem to bring out that rowdy, honky-tonk, beer-drinking rodeo crowd,” Casey laughs. Perhaps it’s because he’s a competitive team roper himself, or maybe it’s his musical influences. “My mom was a big Elvis fan, which made me a big Elvis fan,” he admits. “When Garth hit the scene, it was something that really stuck out to me—the music and the songs. And then I got to see him at one of the three sold-out shows at Texas Stadium and it was just crazy.” Pepper that with a healthy dose of Pat Green, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Jason Boland and Randy Rogers Band, then add an intoxicating amount of energy that’s pure Casey Donahew, and you’ve got a night to remember.
Casey credits much of their success to their crazy-fun live performance. “I still think of us as an underground band, but for years we were pretty ignored by Texas,” he says. “We had to build our name from our live show. That’s what we tried to carry through the last 10 years: being a high-energy show with a lot of crowd interaction, singalong-type atmosphere. We want people to come back.”
They do come back. And they do sing along. The band’s current album Double-Wide Dream boasts three No. 1 singles on the Texas Music Chart, including the title track, “Let’s Not Say Goodbye Again,” and the slamming “One Star Flag.” But with four previous albums, including a live project, fans have plenty to choose from, from foot-stomping rockers to the occasional love song. And Casey has written or co-written every track. “I’m always looking for inspiration,” he says. “In the past, I seemed to be a champion of the ‘I hate your guts because you ruined my life’ kind of songs. They just seemed to be more in my wheelhouse. In the last record, I really wanted to make sure there was a love song, so I wrote ‘Give You a Ring.’”
A decade into their career, Casey and his band are looking ahead to the future—and shows both in and outside Texas. “We’ve had an amazing ten years. We’ve accomplished things that I never dreamed about. We sold out Billy Bob’s Texas, we’ve played sold-out crowds all over the place,” he says. “If it were to come crashing to a halt, I’d look back and say, ‘That was pretty cool. Had a pretty good run!’” But he pauses before adding, “Every day is just a blessing, we want to keep pushing forward. We want to keep doing what we do and take it to the masses.” But in the short term, he’s looking forward to ringing in the New Year—back at Billy Bob’s.