Over Labor Day weekend, Music City, U.S.A. provided a wide array of live music that spilled out of the rowdy honky tonk bars on Broadway and into the streets of downtown Nashville during a free five-day event, Live On The Green. Two stages were built only a stone’s throw from the Cumberland River and adjacent to City Hall to accommodate the likes of country superstar Sheryl Crow’s headlining act, the diverse Philadelphia-based vocalist Santigold, the multiple Grammy nominee Yola, the upbeat psych-rock of The Brummies, and many more.
Live On The Green also welcomed handfuls of Nashville natives including indie-rockers Moon Taxi, pop-rockers COIN, as well as the rising cosmic country guitarist Daniel Donato. He brought his four-piece band onstage as the sun was getting low on Labor Day and a half-moon rose over the towering AT&T Building. Surrounding the prodigious guitarist and bandleader, keyboardist Nathan Aronowitz, bassist/vocalist Will McGee, and drummer Noah Miller filled out the stage and sound. Foreshadowing what’s to come for the young man, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum loomed in the background over the shoulder of the Telecaster gunslinger.
Before the set began, tour manager Joe Lentini psyched up the crowd by announcing a hometown Christmas show at Nashville’s Brooklyn Bowl on December 23rd. The audience started filling in as the quartet walked onstage and opened its festival set with a pair of unreleased originals. The band rolled down the instrumental tracks of “Locomotive No. 9” until breaking ground for a rendition of the newly-emerged “Rose in the Garden”.
No more than a few blocks from Honky Tonk Row, Donato and his gang ripped into an extended psychedelic interpretation of Stanley Jones’ “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky”. The jam-heavy deluge of guitar notes flowed from Donato’s cherry red Tele and filled the air as his practiced fingers reworked familiar grooves and motions of this fan-favorite staple of his live act.
Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country – “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky” (Stanley Jones)
Next, Will McGee exchanged his standup bass for a traditional four-string electric one for a lengthy strut into the Type II jams of “Dance in the Desert”. The tune featured vocal harmonies between Nathan, Will, and Donato and has become their most defining original and the fans reciprocated the energy with ease, dancing in the angles of the fading sunlight.
With the short set winding down, Donato’s quartet covered Mickey Newbury‘s “Why You Been Gone So Long?” before closing with a pairing of “Justice” and “Jessica”, ending the show just as it began with a long-winded instrumental jam. The Allman Brothers Band’s song helped guide the young guitarist down the road of rock and roll music and has regularly appeared in conjunction with the original, “Justice”.
After the show, Donato thanked the audience for helping make 2022 his busiest year yet and walked off stage. With two touring acts, Cosmic Country and Trouble No More, the frantic musician still found time to sit down with me for an interview before sitting in with practically every band at the 10th annual Peach Music Festival.
Donato begins a run of Western tour dates tonight, September 8th, in Montana followed by shows in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and more. For his full touring breakdown with Cosmic Country, click here. For Trouble No More’s upcoming dates, click here.
Setlist: Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country | Live On The Green | Public Square Park | Nashville, TN | 9/5/22
Set: Locomotive No. 9, Rose in the Garden, (Ghost) Riders in the Sky (Stanley Jones), Dance in the Desert, Why You Been Gone So Long? (Mickey Newbury), Justice > Jessica (The Allman Brothers Band)