Casey Donahew Band stays the indie course
By Tricia Despres For Sun-Times Media December 4, 2013 6:24PM
The Casey Donahew Band | HANDOUT PHOTO
The Casey Donahew Band, 10 p.m., Dec. 6, Joe’s Bar, 940 W. Weed. $15. (312) 337-3486; joesbar.com
Dreamers find ways to accept the refusals and the harsh words and the doors that inevitably get slammed in their faces. They break through the barriers. They find ways to do it differently. If they truly want it bad enough, they will find a way to “get it done.”
Casey Donahew has always been one of those dreamers.
As the lead singer of Texas Country hotshots The Casey Donahew Band, Donahew has taken his role of dreamer seriously, realizing that to succeed in the music industry these days takes a lot more than talent — it takes quite an imagination.
“You got to find ways to support yourself, and just selling some records is not going to get the job done anymore,” says the baby faced lead singer who started playing the Texas bar scene back in 2002. “It’s almost impossible to get songs played on the radio without major labels behind you to make it happen. And that’s OK. We have accepted being one of the last independent artists still standing. It gives us the freedom to do what we want to do, when we want to it and how we want to do it. No one tells me what songs I am going to play or how I am going to play them. I get to make the music I want to play.”
And while Donahew’s tone could sound a bit confrontational to some, it’s this attitude that has helped the band rack up some impressive stats. The band’s latest album “Standoff,” for example debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes Country Chart and No. 7 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart, ultimately powered not only by the music, but by the strength of their liveshows.
“Ever since we started, we knew we needed to sell tickets and create a fan base, and the only way we knew to do that was going to be through our live show,” says Donahew, who in recent years has received a nice assist via the increasing popularity of Texas country acts such as the Eli Young Band. “It was really the only way to gain traction as a band. We are always making sure those fans we have tonight come back to see us again next time.”
Indeed, some of these repeat customers will undoubtedly show up Dec. 6 at the band’s date at Chicago’s Joe’s Bar. “We are old veterans to the bright lights, but playing a place like Joe’s amps us up that much more,” says Donahew. “There are crowds that can get into those quiet, candlelit acoustic shows, but that’s just not me. I’m all about the rowdy crowds. We get excited. I grab a Red Bull and our base player lays a prayer on us… and I can assure you we get it done.”
And what about those bands coming up in Texas now looking to them for guidance to how to “get it done”?
“We have been doing this for 11 years now, so we are definitely part of the ‘old guy’ group,” Donahew says laughing. “We are really proud of the things we have accomplished and we certainly hope to see a new group of youngins coming along to carry the torch for years to come.”