Most country music fans were glued to the CMA Awards Show last Wednesday. No disrespect to Nashville, because there's lots of good music coming out of that town.
But I needed a different kind of country music vibe on Wednesday night, so I convinced Ry Guy to take the 65-minute trip north to Aggieland - College Station, Texas - to see the Casey Donahew Band
We arrived at Hurricane Harry's about halfway through the set of Highway 5, the opening act from Little Rock, Ark. The band met while they were students at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock and their addition to the Texas/Red Dirt Music Scene would be a double victory.
As Donahew's opening act, they get to showcase their music in the Lone Star State. And they also get to expand the visibility of Texas/Red Dirt in Arkansas - where it hasn't quite caught on like it has in Texas and Oklahoma.
Donahew is a natural showman. He has a unique voice that's hard to describe if you haven't heard it. His songs involve the classic country themes, so country fans enjoy it. His voice and the rocking beats are so prevalent that non-country fans will have a good time as well.
He has the talent to rank among the top stars in country music, nationally, and that day may come sooner, rather than later.
But on Wednesday night, it was just about a former Texas A&M student returning successfully to Aggieland. Sure, he referenced his time as an Aggie. And told the crowd (predominantly comprised of A&M students to sing the lyrics back to him so loud that they'd hear it in Austin).
One thing about the Texas/Red Dirt Scene is that it brings so many different types of people together. There are fraternity boys and sorority girls rubbing elbows with down-home country boys and girls wearing John Deere tractor caps....with some suburban Houston fans thrown in for good mix. And everyone is singing back the lyrics to CDB, in unison.
It's an interesting phenomenon, especially because mainstream country music - although it involves lots of great artists - doesn't have the same level of energy and enthusiasm as Texas Music.
Songs are written by creativity in Texas, not written so they'll be played eight zillion times on the radio and studied/analyzed by marketing groups.
It doesn't get any more real than Texas Music, and CDB is at the forefront of that movement. His pre-song stories re-emphasize his commitment to excellent songwriting - with such gems on the new album as "Ramblin' Kind" and "Next Time."
Donahew hasn't forgotten where he's come from - mentioning Fort Worth frequently during the show and representing the city's historic, "Stockyards."
He's also relaxed and doesn't take himself too seriously - Casey-fying such tunes as Kid Rock's "Cowboy" and Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice."
Now, that's not something you'd see on the CMA Awards Show.