WORTHINGTON — A country music performer who has recorded 19 No. 1 singles over the last 18 years while headlining shows across the country is topping the lineup for this year’s Windsurfing Regatta and Music Festival.
Casey Donahew will perform on the Sailboard Beach stage Friday night, June 11. He’s one of multiple performers who had been scheduled to perform during the 2020 Regatta, which was ultimately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Donahew, a native of Burleson, Texas, has enjoyed a successful career without the aid of a major record label or management company. Barry Roberts, who heads the Regatta’s music committee, is looking forward to Donahew’s performance along the shoreline of Lake Okabena.
“Casey is someone that we looked at booking in 2019 for the Regatta, but it didn’t come together,” Roberts said. “We actually booked him shortly after that year’s Regatta. He has a huge following in these parts, and we thought he would be a perfect fit for our festival in 2020.”
Donahew got his first guitar from his grandfather while growing up and began teaching himself to play and writing songs while a student at Texas A&M University. He was a big fan of ’80s and ’90s country music, and was particularly taken with the live performances of Garth Brooks.
“I’ve just always liked the country songs from the ’80s,” Donahaw says on his website, caseydonahew.com. “It seems like a time when there was a lot of great songwriting going on, and I just enjoy people who can tell a story with a song. And I’ve always been a big Garth Brooks fan, since the beginning.
“First there was George Strait, and then here came this guy from Oklahoma, Garth Brooks. And you’d see George standing there playing guitar, but then Garth comes along running all over the stage, playing guitar and singing all these songs that he wrote. And the thing I was always most enamored with about Garth was that he wrote most of those songs. He was just one of those guys that did it all.”
Another big early influence for Donahew was Pat Green, who he admired for both his songwriting and his ability to connect with audiences. After transferring to the University of Texas/Arlington, Donahew and his girlfriend (and future wife) Melinda traveled to see shows by such artists as Green, Randy Rogers, Cross Canadian Ragweed and others. He was soon playing a regular acoustic set at The Thirsty Armadillo, a popular Fort Worth bar.
Within a few years, Donahaw was playing bigger venues and released his first independent CD, “Lost Days,” which featured his first hit, “Stockyards.” It was around this time that — with wife Melinda leading management and booking operations — Donahew got the opportunity to play at the famous Billy Bob’s club, also in Fort Worth.
Donahew released a second, self-titled CD in 2006, followed by a live CD recorded at a Stephenville, Texas bar that helped him launch his career. He released his next CD, “Moving On,” in 2009, and his other albums include “Standoff,” “All Night Party,” “15 Years, The Wild Ride,” “One Light Town” and his 2020 effort, “Lost My Brothers Goat.”
“I don’t see anyone coming to make a deal where we’re gonna change what we do,” Donahew says on his website. “I’m not sure how far we have left to go, hopefully forever, but you know nothing lasts forever, so I’m always mindful of that and prepared that one day this ride could be over. And I’m pretty proud of everything we’ve accomplished.”
“Every year we try to bring in the best entertainment for this free event and this year won’t be any different,” Roberts said. “Casey Donahew will bring us a Red Dirt Texas Country flare for 2021. We hope you will join us on the beach.”