Daniel Donato Gets Cosmic

“When you switch the gear of what you’re operating on from the memorized information to the gear of intuitive, faithful response, it’s a whole different frequency that’s emitted from the hands and from the soul,” country shredder Daniel Donato expresses on this episode of Wong Notes. He’s talking about what makes for powerful improvisation, and if you know anything about the guitarist, you know this insight around the topic is coming from someone who’s a master on their instrument.


Throughout his conversation with Cory, Donato shares his uniquely intellectual philosophies about music, explaining what it means to exploit versus explore creatively, how lessons in faith and trust of his bandmates came to supersede his knowledge around music, and how “listening and alignment” of one vision is most important when jamming with others. He also sheds light on his experiences working with producers Robben Ford and Vance Powell, and the different collaborative dynamics he had with both.

Following an emphatic statement from Cory that he has always, always been loyal to Dave Matthews Band, and a comment from Daniel on how a drummer really is at the core of a successful jam, Daniel elaborates: “The song is a vehicle for a spirit.” He says Carter Beauford’s performance on “Ants Marching” on DMB’s first album, Remember Two Things, which features an extended 2 and 4 pattern in the intro, perfectly serves the song. “I need players that are very spiritually and emotionally vulnerable,” says Donato, “and willing to do things that are abstract and left-field that wouldn’t be intuitive.”

Clearly an admirer of Cory’s work, Daniel has some questions for him towards the end of the interview. Then, Cory quizzes Daniel on gear that he finds essential. His response? Whatever feels like the right pick to you, Mogami cables, and, if money isn’t an object, a Fender black-panel. Tune in for the full Donato experience.

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