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RNZ MAGAZINE » Featured, Interviews, Music, People » Dan Deel : Tennessee Troubadour by: Jason Mater Robinson

Dan Deel : Tennessee Troubadour by: Jason Mater Robinson


Dan and Jason

Dan Deel is a up and coming Troubadour from a small town in Tennessee with a love for the real soulful style of country music. He is hard working fellow who was instrumental in last Summers “Highway to Hellbilly” tour. I had the privilege of meeting Dan before the show and hang out with him. I recently asked him a few questions about whats going on in the world of Dan Deel.

JMR ) You were on the Highway To Hellbilly tour with Jesco and Mamie White….I know you got have a great road story from it.

DD ) Too many to list here, hahaha. I’ve seen everything from Jesco running down a hotel hallway in ladies’ baby blue underwear, to Mamie slinging a weenie around from a footlong in the vehicle. I think probably the most interesting tale would be when I took Jesco and Mamie to Butcher Holler in Kentucky to Loretta Lynn’s old homeplace. We have video of Jesco tapping on the old front porch as I pick the Wildwood Flower. That was a classic moment for sure. Also being with both of them at The Lost Sea in Sweetwater, TN was another one of the big highlights I can remember, it was the first time either one of them had been in some underground caverns and it was interesting to watch them, they were in amazement but still kept their great senses of humor while on that tour. Storm Taylor was the brains behind the operation putting everything together for the tour and I think he did a standup job, he actually introduced me to Jesco about 5 years ago and I’ve been friends with the family ever since. I think the best experience was just playing on the stage though while Jesco danced to some sold out crowds and seeing everyone having fun. I’ve met a lot of cool people and made a lot of great friends that I will never forget, like you, Mater, of course, the Pick Up The Snake boys, and the legendary Roger Alan Wade, and countless others.

JMR ) Tell us about your small home town and how you decided to pick up the guitar?

DD ) I was born in Pikeville, KY and raised over the state line in VA in a little town named Grundy. It’s coal country up there, and it’s how most people make their living up there. Most of the people in my family were either coal miners or schoolteachers. My parents were both schoolteachers, they divorced when I was a young age but still did a wonderful job raising me with some strong country values. My family wasn’t rich but we were blessed, I never went without when I was a child, I was really blessed. I was a late bloomer picking up the guitar; I didn’t get my first one until I was 15. No one in my family was really musically inclined except a couple of my uncles knew a couple of songs on guitar, so I didn’t really have anyone to teach me. I tried for a long time to teach myself and learned a couple of chords, but I got disgruntled with it and laid it down. I still kept writing lyrics during all that time though and finally decided to pick it back up until a few years later in 2002. Cash and Waylon had recently passed away and those were two of my heroes that I unfortunately never got to see perform live. But most importantly, my grandma (Mamaw) passed away that year on Christmas Eve. Our family always got together at her house on that day so they were all on the way over when she passed away that day. That hit me hard and that’s when I wrote my first real song, called the “The Rose In The Lord’s Garden” for her, it just used a simple G-C-D chord progression but it still hits hard though. I never play it out live because I would probably tear up on stage. But those events are when I just set my mind to get serious about the art of playing a guitar. I have always felt like I’ve had this creative mind since I was a child, especially when it comes to the love of music, and I had to learn to strings chords and words into songs to really get that creativity out there. Now it’s therapy for me, if there’s anything going wrong or right in my life, it reflects in the songs I write. It’s a lot cheaper than going to a shrink too, hahaha.

JMR )In your own words tell us who in your mind is someone you would like to work with?

DD ) I became good friends with the legendary Roger Alan Wade while on the road with the Highway to Hellbilly Tour, and looking forward to hopefully playing and writing with him in the near future. And there are actually a few modern country artists on the charts that actually get a fair amount of radio play that I’d love to work with, such as Jamey Johnson, Chris Young, Gary Allan, Shooter Jennings, Hank III, and Eric Church. I’ve met Chris, Gary, Shooter, and Eric before but only in brief backstage encounters, never have really gotten to talk music with them. A lot of people out there seem to be against mainstream country music these days and for very good reason, because a lot of what you hear on radio today is regurgitated pop. But there are still a few modern day country artists such as them that I think are keeping tradition alive and are going against the grain. I think guys like George Strait and Alan Jackson still try to keep traditional roots and record songs with some meaning. Real life is what modern country radio has lost these days. Nobody talks about real life anymore it seems. It’s a teenage girl who learned 3 chords on a guitar and want to sing about puppy love heartbreaks in every song; or it’s pretty boys who want to brag about how much beer they can drink and still drive their tractors that they probably don’t even own. But I digress, back to the subject, I think most of all; I’d love to work with some of the legends like George Jones, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Billy Joe Shaver, Kris Kristofferson, and Tom T. Hall. I’ve had the privilege of meeting George and his wife Nancy last year and he was such a nice and humble guy, it’s like I had known him all my life, I was in total awe. I also felt the same way when I met Tom at his last show in Marion, VA back in 2008 that was awesome as well. I don’t think these legends get the respect that they are due these days and I wrote a song addressing that, I plan on cutting that next time I’m in studio, it’s a huge shot at country radio on how they play the same rotation over and over and don’t play any of the legends who are still alive and still making good music.

JMR ) You also had a successful run as a Rapper/alter ego Danye East with a single about the beloved hometown walmart…How did that come to be?

DD ) That was a one trick pony, hahaha. As I mentioned before, I came from a small town, we didn’t even have a Wal-Mart. When I was growing up, the closest ones were at least an hour away, so it was literally like a vacation to go to Wal-Mart. Whenever my parents said we are going to Wal-Mart, we were ecstatic, haha. Anyhow, back in 2003, Wal-Mart announced their intention of building a store in my little town, to be completed by 2007 as part of a major town rebuilding due to flood control. 2007 and 2008 came and went and still no Wal-Mart. Brad Paisley had a hit with the song in late 2008 with “Waitin’ On A Woman” and so I re-wrote it in a parody style calling it “Waitin’ On A Wal-Mart” about my hometown’s displeasure of waiting, haha. It was a smalltown hit and was played all around there. September 2011 finally saw the opening of this long awaited store and I recorded way out of left field with a hip-hop song, most people don’t even realize it was me, because they know me as always being a country guy, so I adapted an “alter ego” for that recording named “Danye East”…haha. It was intended to be just a little fun comedic song played for friends on Facebook but the project ended up exploding and getting over 30,000 hits on YouTube, and some local radio play. I was told stories of people blasting in their car stereos riding through college campuses, haha. It even helped one of my old high school teachers, Bull Bevins, win an election to the county school board. I’ve always been fascinated by the whole “autotune” effect like T-Pain uses and I utilized it in the song in the chorus. I even have some hip-hop in my iPod, I like the ones that really tell stories, some of 2pac’s music really did that. But I’ll always be country; nothing is going to change that fact! You always stick with what you do best and what you truly love, that’s the general rule of thumb.

JMR ) Whats in the future for Dan Deel?

DD ) I’m just going to keep writing and keep plugging myself the best way that I can. I’m going to try to get back in the studio before this summer and finish up my album. My EP is now complete and available on iTunes and Amazon MP3. I hope to keep expanding the areas I play in and getting out there and meeting new people who appreciate good music. I’m also actually working on a country ballad for a soundtrack for an upcoming independent movie named “Virginia Running” that my friend Adam Chaffin is filming, which co-stars Andy Dick in a dramatic role. I have dates booked in the Virginia/Tennessee area for now but hope to get back down to NC/SC/GA in 2012. One date I’m particularly looking forward to is 1/19/2012 at Barley’s Taproom in Knoxville, TN when I will be opening for my talented friend, Roger Alan Wade. Hopefully, by the grace of God and my persistence, 2012 will see my star shine a little brighter. Thanks for speaking with me today and thanks to r/n/z magazine for keeping it real! Links to Dan’s Ep on Amazon Dan’s Itunes page

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r/n/z magazine is a d.i.y. style magazine focusing on arts,activism,native american rights,and social justice. with a soundtrack of real country and roots music.

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