The soaring shredder and his gang, collectively dubbed Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country, stabled their horses and took shelter from the cold at The Homestead Bar & Kitchen in Morristown, NJ on Sunday. Daniel Donato’s four-piece, one of the hardest working acts in the biz, crafted two sets full of mind- and note-bending, locomotive percussions and a potent brew of spiritual jams—appropriate considering the lofty, high-ceilinged space was a formerly used as a church.
Kicking their spurs into the first set, the show started off traditionally with the combo wombo of “Justice” melding into Allman Brothers Band’s “Jessica”. Staying original, D.D.C.C. topped off “Luck of the Draw” with a fresh “Sugar Leg Rag” as Nathan Aronowitz strayed from his keyboards to flex his guitar chops.
Donato took lead vocals for their second cover, “Why You Been Gone So Long?”, before the cosmic cowboys opened up their strides on “Cigar Time” and “Sugar Shack”. “Sugar Shack” featured Nathan rotating between keys and guitar once more and an exuberant hodgepodge of vocal harmonies from the front line.
“Half-Moon Night” led into a pairing of well-known traditional songs as “Darlin’ Cory” flowed seamlessly into an instrumental “Arkansas Traveler”. The first frame began to wind down, but the merriment was just getting started. Marty Robbins’ gunfighter ballad “Big Iron” fired its pistols at high noon until blasting off and jumping to light speed for a legendary Star Wars “Cantina Jam”.
Taking on an intergalactic frontier juxtaposition akin to 2022’s Outer Range, 2011’s Cowboys v. Aliens, or the failed storming of Area 51 in 2019, Daniel Donato and his flight crew landed on the banks of Johnny Cash’s “Big River” before closing the set with Stan Jones’ galloping instrumental “Ghost Riders In The Sky”. (Side note: Johnny Cash recorded performances of three out of the last four songs, though the Man in Black missed his opportunity to pepper his flavors into the infamous “Cantina Jam”.)
After a short set break, the four-piece band of space wranglers opened up and jammed during the sprawling expanse of the second set as “Hi-Country”, “Chore”, “Faded Lovin’”, “Gotta Get Southbound”, “Lose Your Mind”, and “Ten Feet of Rope” fired off in succession like rounds from a six-shooter.
Many of the songs were composed recently, debuting on Cosmic Country’s last tour with Kitchen Dwellers. Donato and his roguish accomplices closed the second set with more well-known original tunes as a psychedelic “Double Exposure” set the stage for a behemoth “Dance in the Desert”.
Returning for the encore, Donato & Co. performed Phish’s “Back on the Train” before closing out Sunday service with a tribute to one of the most infamous and distinguished outlaw country songwriters and voices, Waylon Jennings, with a cover of Waylon and Curtis Buck’s “Waymore’s Blues”.
Last time I had a chance to see Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country, the performance was only half as long. The band continues to evolve, develop, and jam. More songs, deeper cuts, heavier riffs, choice covers—this group of cosmonauts continues to explore the boundaries of space, redefining their own potential with every gig.
Check out fan-shot videos and a gallery of photos from Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country at The Homestead in Morristown, NJ courtesy of photographer Ken Spielman below.
Tonight, the band performs at Garcia’s at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. Like always, it will surely be a can’t-miss show for the local audiophiles who specialize in psychedelic country jam rock and enjoy the feeling of floating in outer space.
I’ll be peakin’ at The Beacon with Trouble No More and Chuck Leavell next, and very excited about Cosmic Country’s gig with Widespread Panic. Godspeed, DDCC, and good luck.
Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country – “Sugar Shack” – 2/5/23
[Video: Drinking Muddy Whiskey]
Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country – “Big Iron” (Marty Robbins) > “Cantina Jam” (Star Wars) – 2/5/23
[Video: Keith Karaffa]
Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country – The Homestead – Morristown, NJ – 2/5/23
Setlist: Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country | Morristown, NJ | 3/5/23
Set 1: Justice > Jessica, Luck of the Draw > Sugar Leg Rag, Why You Been Gone So Long, Cigar Time, Sugar Shack, Half Moon Night, Darlin’ Cory > Arkansas Traveler, Big Iron > Cantina Jam, Big River, Ghost Riders In The Sky
Set 2: Hi- Country, Chore, Faded Lovin’, Gotta Get Southbound, Lose Your Mind, Ten Feet of Rope, Double Exposure, Dance in the Desert
Encore: Back On The Train > Waymore’s Blues