It’s one thing to hear a new Trop Rock CD for the first time and give an opinion, but it’s quite another thing to experience a Trop Rock CD release party, especially when Donny Brewer is hosting the party! Well, actually Fred and Sara Guerrero hosted the event at their Isla Bella House Concert venue in Floresville, Texas and there were around 60 of us to party with Donny.
Donny Brewer is the current phenom of Trop Rock music, in that he went to Key West last year (MOTM) with no gigs lined up and this year, he was nominated for five Trop Rock Music Association awards and won three. The whole concept behind his new CD is unique in that he co-wrote most of the songs with fellow Trop Rock artists. Even better, each song on the CD features one of more Trop Rock musicians vocally. There are also some fun background vocals from some non-musical names in Trop Rock, which is extra fun. Oh, and the most fabulous part of the project? Everything was recorded in Donny’s Winnebago in the mobile recording studio.
Reggie Starrett is first to bat with Donny when they co-wrote and recorded “Rum and Somethin’.” Apparently, this idea came from last spring’s Trop Rock cruise and Reggie was asked what he was ordering at the bar. He answered “rum and somethin'” and the ball started rolling. Jerry Diaz and Donny collaborated for “Guys Like Us,” and the result is toe-tapping mix of reggae and rock and roll and great solo work by Jerry.
“No Working During Drinking Hours” is a classic play on words by Thom Shepherd and he and Donny are super in their duet. And extra help in the background comes from Jon (Boy) Burns and (Dammit) Earl Sanders of Pirates and Poets fame.
Brent Burns co-wrote “Easy Day” with Donny and Eric Babin, of Radio A1A. This is an easy, laid-back ballad featuring Brent on vocals. Mark Mireles adds a great touch with his wonderful steel drum. Mark also contributes in “The Sea,” written solely by Donny. This is a beautiful ballad and features the wonderful vocals of Drop Dead Dangerous… Kitty Steadman and Melanie Howe. Beautiful female vocals continue with Coley McCabe on “Gimme the Keys.” Her hubby, Thom Shepherd, wrote this wonderful escape song and James “Sunny Jim” White adds his touch with steel drum.
If you know Donny’s songs, you know many are silly and downright hilarious. “Professional Drinker” was co-written with Dan Sullivan, one half of The Detentions. Dan and Chris Hillier (the other half) sing on this clever song with feel-good rhythms and catchy lyrics. And a nod to true hilarity goes to “Skinny Beer,” which has received air play on Radio Margaritaville. Combine Donny and Matt Hoggatt and that’s a recipe for a gaggle of giggles.
Charlie Imes and Donny got together for a great song called “Gypsy Soul,” and the result is a great song with pleasing chord progressions. “Live in the music, join in the dance”…what a great lyric. I especially appreciate the a cappella tune called “The Doo Wop Song.” James “Sunny Jim” White has a great contribution and Donny gives us some awesome falsetto singing. Sunny Jim and Donny get into dueling guitars on “Tsunami” with several fun surfing licks reminiscent of Dick Dale and the Chantays. Cowabunga and hang ten! Donny also wrote “Winnebago” on his own and chronicles his adventures with wonderful wife Michelle in this fun tune. Fred Guerrero adds a great touch with his saxophone on this one.
Back to the CD release party… it was covered live on Radio A1A and before the end of the evening, the area in front of the stage was filled with dancers. The evening was a bit chilly, so many of us gathered around a fire pit, while singing along with a variety of favorite fun songs. It’s obvious that Donny Brewer is happiest when he’s making music, be it his or old standards. The next morning, four RVs (including Donny and Michelle’s Winnebago) left Floresville to start the “Karavan to the Keys.” There is no telling what all adventures this group experienced on their way to Key West for MOTM! Grab your own copy of The Winnebago Tapes, Vol. 1 and you can also vicariously enjoy some of the Donny Brewer music magic.