Daniel Donato must have been very good this year considering what he found under the tree at his Cosmic Country Christmas Jam on Saturday. A cavalcade of special guests lined up at the sold-out Brooklyn Bowl Nashville to jam with the Nashville guitarist, including members of Widespread PanicGreensky Bluegrass, and more.

The 2023 edition of Donato’s annual holiday hometown get-together saw the guitarist pull up some of Music City’s best and brightest. Greensky Bluegrass dobroist Anders Beck was the first special guest to join the show, jamming on the Merle Haggard Christmas classic “If We Make it Through December”, among others.

At 28, Donato is considered one of the young guns of the live music scene, but on Saturday he made room for another rising star when he brought out 17-year-old firebrand guitarist Grace Bowers. The fellow Nashvillian went toe-to-toe with Donato on an extended run of Daniel’s “Weathervane” through The Doors classic “Riders On The Storm” and back into “Weathervane”.

Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country, Grace Bowers – “Riders On The Storm” (The Doors) – 12/16/23

[Video: keaton6921]

There was more Merle Haggard in store as the set wore on, as banjo picker Willow Osborne joined Donato for a down-low duet of “Today I Started Loving You Again”. The rising tide of Nashville’s next generation of stellar live performers was well-represented, as venerated mandolin mavin Sierra Hull came out to help close the set on a trio of songs including a relevant “Country Christmas”.

Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country, Willow Osborne – “Today I Started Loving You Again” (Merle Haggard) – 12/16/23

[Video: keaton6921]

The second set was a guitar showdown as Donato went up against one challenger after another, beginning with J.D. Simo and continuing with Marty Schwartz on Chuck Berry‘s “Run Rudolph Run”, sung by 2006 American Idol winner/jam band enthusiast Taylor Hicks. Things got a bit more traditional as Donato brought out bluegrass youngsters Mountain Grass Unit to pick on Doc Watson‘s “Black Mountain Rag” and Johnny Cash‘s “Big River”.

Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country, Marty Schwartz, Taylor Hicks – “Run Rudolph Run” (Chuck Berry) – 12/16/23

[Video: Jrodconcerts Media]

Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country, Mountain Grass Unit – “Black Mountain Rag” (Doc Watson), “Big River” (Johnny Cash) – 12/16/23

[Video: keaton6921]

Welcoming out another nubile guitarist, Drew Smithers, Donato and Cosmic Country went old-school with Bob Dylan‘s “Down Along The Cove” and the Allman Brothers Band‘s “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”. This then brought about the big finale, as Widespread Panic keyboardist JoJo Hermann and drummer Duane Trucks joined the band for a take on Neil Young‘s “Are You Ready for the Country?”. Donato previously joined the full Widespread Panic ensemble onstage over the summer during the band’s Charleston run after opening the show with Cosmic Country.

JoJo Hermann then took the reigns for his signature take on J.J. Cale‘s “Ride Me High”, the blended lineup of Widespread Panic and Cosmic Country coalescing together for a cross-generational jam. Hermann departed the stage but Trucks stuck around to close down the set with Donato’s standout Reflector track “Dance in the Desert” before an all-hands-on-deck cover of Dylan’s “Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)” put a cap on the nearly four-hour marathon concert.


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Donato is off the road until the new year when he will resurface for a two-night run in Denver on January 5th and 6th. For tickets and a full list of tour dates visit his website.

Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country, JoJo Hermann, Duane Trucks – “Are You Ready For The High Country?” (Neil Young) – 12/16/23

[Video: keaton6921]