Virtuoso isnt an easy status to reach when playing guitar, but if you do it for a living, there’s a chance you’ll get there quicker. Daniel Donato, a singer and guitarist out of Nashville, can be easily called a Virtuoso, and fans of his branded “Cosmic Country” were lucky to catch him at the Turf Club, a fitting venue, during Donato’s extensive countrywide tour.
It’s hard not to talk about Donato without an abundance of space puns, but to say he sent the Turf Club anywhere short of stratospheric is an understatement. He and his band took the small, honky tonk bar on Snelling and University to the cosmos. The show had a heady vibe, with dancers front and center from the stage, and a crowd that danced and cheered along to any and every swirly, fiery, guitar solo, Which there was plenty of. Cosmic doesn’t just define the sound of Daniel Donato’s playing. It defines, loosely, where he wants to take us. Songs reached dozens of peaks each song, it was tough to pick which one was the defining moment of each. At times it was expansive, other times it was a tight, condensed jam. And the intimate, tight quarters of the turf club meant the audience was there to listen to every note, and at the full attention of our six stringed space captain.
Donato’s guitar playing comes from a melting pot of guitar legends, ranging from Jerry Garcia, Merle Haggard, to modern legends like Joe Bonamassa and John Mayer. At times, his sound is full on classic-country. Other times, it’s smoking, technical jams, teasing other songs during his jams. Astute music historians could hear the transitioning notes of Scarlet>Fire during a few songs, and at one point, the band fully launched into Jessica, An Instrumental by The Allman Brothers Band. Perhaps a callback to celebrate the anniversary of the band’s Eat A Peach album, released 50 years ago that day. Although, to be fair, Jessica was not on that album. But, that didnt phase concertgoers cheers when the band locked in on the song and achieved liftoff.
On top of releasing 2 full length albums, Donato is also very active on just about every social media platform these days, from Instagram, TikTok, and even on his own Youtube channel and podcast. Despite that, he remained relatively quiet when talking to the crowd, only speaking a handful of times to us, including thanking another concertgoer for taking some polaroids for him. “These are vibed out. I love it!” Donato is doing a phenomenal job with balance in all things. While many fans would probably love to hear him play Jerry licks and dead songs all night, Donato’s balance of blending his own music with traditional outlaw country songs and heady jams was well crafted. After all, space exploration is all about going where no man has gone before. But, to do that, we do need to venture to the points where we have been before. From there, It’s all unknown. Daniel Donato is going to be someone who will be taking us beyond that point, and I cant wait.