Singer-songwriting guitarist Daniel Donato is a young and rising star in Nashville, but his roots trace back to New Jersey.

Donato has played everything from Honky Tonks to the Grand Old Opry. Most recently Donato played a show at the Beacon Theater and will soon be bringing his talents to Asbury Park and Stanhope.

He will be playing his first show in Jersey at The Stanhope House on Friday, April 22. The following night, Saturday, April 23 he will be playing The Saint in Asbury Park. 

He calls his brand of music Cosmic Country, which he describes as "tie-dyes and Levi's, and if you like three chords and the truth, and you also like a little bit of a story told through the music, and not the words, it's right up your alley. It's influenced by the classics of American music, including Grateful Dead and Phish, but it also includes Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Hank Williams Sr."

Daniel also spent time playing with the Don Kelly Band, which was known to have some of the best guitarists Nashville has to offer.

Check out my conversation with Daniel Donato

What’s your background in Jersey?

"The Donatos moved to New Jersey in the early 1900s, to New Brunswick. My grandfather ran a salvage company for years there. He was a man of adventure, quality, and unique tastes. From that move, I came along many years later.

“I am thrilled to perform for the specific audience that New Jersey is, New Jersey is a collective of many different kinds of cultures at the end of the day it's an honest culture that works very hard and wants to provide for their family. A lot of my music is rooted in those values."

Photo Courtesy of Photographer Joel Jansen
Photo Courtesy of Photographer Joel Jansen

You’ve been living in Nashville, but what are you looking forward to in Jersey?

"Steaks Unlimited and Maruca’s in Seaside Heights because they both are hands down the best Shore food you’ll ever find! I want to go to the Wonder Bar. I wanna walk along the boardwalk in Asbury and see all the seagulls in the morning on the beach and relive that archetypal Jersey Shore moment."

Photo Courtesy of Photographer Joel Jansen
Photo Courtesy of Photographer Joel Jansen

What can someone coming to the show expect?

"A Cosmic Country show has three chords, the truth, and jams from dimensions unknown. You’ll see many happy beings dressed in tie-dye, and dancing for our entire 2+ hour show. Each show is different, we never play the setlist in the same way, no song is ever performed in the same way, it's a completely unique experience each night and we try to bring that to people, they can expect a lot of guitar and improvisation, a lot of really thought out lyrics, very tight harmonies from our honky-tonk roots and a lot of dancing- our crowd is very high energy."

Photo Courtesy of Photographer Joel Jansen
Photo Courtesy of Photographer Joel Jansen

What this tour been like for you?

"This tour has been our most realized endeavor yet. Musically, we’re doing two sets a night, and each night is different. Community wise, the connection between the individuals on stage and the individuals off stage has been closer and more integrated than I’ve ever experienced."

Photo Courtesy of Photographer Joel Jansen
Photo Courtesy of Photographer Joel Jansen

How did your musical style come to be, and who were your influences?

"My style came to be through sheer persistence and inquisitive internal searching and listening through years of playing in Honky Tonks and venues across the country. My influences are classic country artists like Waylon, Willie, and John Prine. I also love Phish, Grateful Dead, and The Allman Brothers Band."

Daniel will be at The Stanhope House on Friday, April 22 and the following night, Saturday, April 23, he will be playing The Saint in Asbury Park.

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These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

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