Daniel Donato and his merry band of roamers performed a surprise pop-up show at photographer Danny Clinch’s Transparent Clinch Gallery in Asbury Park, NJ on Saturday during the day before meandering downtown for a scorching sold-out stopover at the legendary rock and roll venue, The Saint. The latter performance marked the fifth show in 72 hours after stopovers at Relix Studios and Rockwood Music Hall in New York City Thursday, Stanhope House in Stanhope, NJ on Friday, and a double feature in Asbury Park on Saturday.
Christian Lopez warmed the audience up for an epic night before Daniel Donato’s manager donned a poncho to introduce the band with a celebratory “Shoey”. These antics do not seem unusual for the band after Donato’s jacket caught fire onstage a few days earlier at Rockwood Music Hall.
Donato and the gang proceeded to play just about everything they ever wrote with nearly three consecutive hours of pure heat. The Saint is a righteous little venue off Main Street and this frenzied audience packed the space from bar to wall and every nook in between.
Donato’s troupe kicked the show off by performing three Grateful Dead tunes: “Cumberland Blues”, “Fire on the Mountain”, and honored a special request by the manager’s mother with a rare “Bertha”. Originals “Double Exposure” and “Always Been a Lover” were featured in between “Bertha” and “Fire on the Mountain”.
Daniel Donato was joined onstage by Danny Clinch who traded his camera for his harmonica for a bluesy rendition of “Why You Been Gone So Long” before moving on to execute a flawless cover of Little Milton’s “That’s What Love Will Make You Do”.
With its foot relentlessly accelerating down the night’s highway, Donato’s four-piece band worked their way through Waylon Jennings’ “Waymore’s Blues”, the bluegrass traditional “Darlin’ Cory”, as well as their original “Sweet Tasting Tennessee”. Johnny Cash’s “Big River” was sped up before a psychedelic journey through Stan Jones’s “Ghost Riders in the Sky”.
To follow, the band returned to its own repertoire with “Justice” before strumming through an instrumental take on the Allman Brothers Band’s “Jessica”. A sneaky “Justice” reprise was thrown into the middle of “Jessica” to a riotous response from the rowdy crowd.
Winding down the night, Donato’s troupe honored Jimi Hendrix with an interpretation of “3rd Stone from the Sun” before a hearty “Half Moon of Tennessee” closed out the show. Danny Clinch jumped back onstage to close the show with a powerful, harmonic finish.
For a full breakdown of Daniel Donato’s loaded tour schedule, click here. After asking the drummer for the setlist, he pulled out a paper plate upon which he doodled some shorthand notes. He offered it to me but I was hesitant to take this historical artifact of hieroglyphics.
After a non-stop, high-voltage, three-hour performance, some of the band took some R&R on a sleepy offseason, springtime evening in Asbury Park. Until next time, safe travels and godspeed to this merry band of intrepid travelers. Without a doubt, I’ll meet you further down the road.