Reviews and Articles

TRMA Newsletter Article by Cindy Muir

May 2016 Trop Rock Spotlight by Cindy Muir

TRMAI didn’t really hear about Donny Brewer till a couple of years ago and he was in the Austin, Texas area, just up the highway a bit from me in San Antonio. Then I had the chance to hear him live at the 2015 Pirates and Poets Invitational in Port Aransas, Texas. We had an interview after the show at the favorite local joint and a few days later, I was embarrassed to tell Donny that I couldn’t read my notes…. hardly a word of that interview got transcribed legibly. Oops! Too much tequila? Chardonnay, in my case. Anyway, by the time we were able to chat again, Donny Brewer had become a rising name in the Trop Rock world. No, I should clarify…. a rising STAR!

Donny grew up in the Austin Texas area and like many Trop Rock musicians, he started out in a high school rock band. Many folks don’t know that Donny is also a wonderful artist and he began college as a commercial art major, but the lure of playing music professionally led him away. In fact, he became a bass player in a country band that toured and opened for big-named country acts. All along, however, he was writing music himself.

Donny told me that he wasn’t initially aware of the Parrot Head community, but he had been writing songs for years that fit right into the tropical, laid-back lifestyle. Although he did record a classic rock album with his brother and dad, much of what he was writing early on was bluesy-funk and country in nature. He still collaborates with his brother in much of his songwriting. He joked that his brother, Ric, “‘isn’t really a musician…he’s a drummer.” Donny is all about the music and Ric is a pure lyricist.

Many of Donny’s songs are written to and from shows. He said “if a song comes to me, I write it.” Every song comes to him differently and that’s the frustration and the fun of songwriting, according to Donny. “Sometimes it sits and sometimes it just comes and jells.” For instance, he was on his way home from a show in Galveston, Texas and met Franklin Godowns, who amazingly knows the words to a myriad of songs. Franklin’s nickname is “Palapa Joe” and Donny had to pull his car over to the side of the road to quickly record the song that came to him about Franklin.

Donny made a huge splash in the Trop Rock world before and during Meeting of the Minds. He caught several solo gigs, but played with many other artists, as well. He has a fantastic partner in the traveling music world that he’s living in now – his wonderful wife, Michelle. They sold their Texas home and are now living out of an RV, which is equipped with a mobile recording studio. They travel to gigs and venues and Donny’s name continues to grow.

His latest cd is called Zimzala and is a delight to listen to with its variety of fun and clever songs. Donny used his photoshopping skills in the Zimzala logo and in the cover artwork of the recording. He is a skilled audio/ tech master as well as a gifted musician.

To say that Donny Brewer is a rising start is not enough… he’s gaining momentum in the Trop Rock world faster than the speed of light. Don’t miss him if he’s at a venue near you… he’s illuminating the Trop Rock landscape!

Zimzala Review for Trop Rockin' Magazine

January 11, 2016 by Cindy Muir

tammycamp-300In November, Donny Brewer, from Austin, TX, attended his first Meeting of the Minds, and in my opinion, he took the event by storm. I think Donny’s name was the buzzword for the week, although the most fun word to learn how to pronounce was the name of his new CD, Zimzala! And Donny’s definition of that fun word is “a free-spirited person who finds peace with sand between their toes.” Yes! Let’s all be Zimzala!

This recording shows Donny’s mastery of “escapism” songs, many featuring the sounds of steel drums. The first song is titled “Hang Loose” and that could be a personal motto for most of us! Other songs that follow this trend on the album are “That’s All I Want to Do” and the catchy “Coconut Club.” Take a moment and escape right now, listen to this snippet of “Jump Ship” where he encourages us to sail away:

Zimzala front 1400x1400The “Retirement Song” speaks to those of us who are at that certain age and we all “Coulda Been a Pirate” with a job of drinking rum all day! And speaking of spirits, tequila plays a big role in “Too Much Quetila” and “Vitamin T.”
There are also more serious songs on Zimzala. The sweet song “Keep Your Glow On” was inspired by Donny’s aunt, who lost a battle to breast cancer. All the proceeds from the downloads of this song are donated to the Komen organization. “Palapa Joe” came from the amazing Trop Rock fan Franklin Godowns. Franklin has an amazing recall of lyrics and songs and after playing a gig that Franklin attended, Donny was struck by his amazing recall. On Donny’s way home, the song came to him and he literally pulled over on the side of the road and recorded the first take of this tune.
Donny Brewer is not only a very talented songwriter, but he’s also a fabulous music. He recorded this entire CD at his home studio, called Cowpatty Studios, with him playing all the instruments by himself. There is acoustic bass played by Kerry Williams on “I Could Get Used to This,” but other than that, Donny is responsible for all the instruments, even the steel drum that is prominent on several songs. How much talent is that?
Donny has been writing many styles of songs for decades, but it’s Trop Rock that he feels flows from him the best. He says “the more you let songs write you, rather than the other way around, the better off you are.” He says this recording was the most fun that he’s created and he hopes the listeners find a little bit of Zimzala in everyone!

Live Like Jimmy Buffett Review for Palm Tree Radio

July 21, 2014 by Alex John

PTRAs far as debut albums go this is an absolute belter! Yes, ok Brewer has been around the music scene for the past 25 years but this little gem is his debut Trop Rock release and it’s full of instantly singalongable (is that even a word!?!) tunes.
Of course a couple of tunes mention his holiness, heck Brewer’s even named the album after him, but this is far from a Buffett tribute album. From classic Trop Rock, through Reggae and the beautifully quirky Fishin’ On Credit this album stands on its own two feet and then some!
Brewer’s been around the music scene for years from his teens in Rock bands, leaving art education to go touring in Country bands until family life came calling and he settled back down in Texas to run his own studio.
In all that time playing Rock, Country and Blues though he never really got a chance, or had the inclination, to pursue the Island side of things but encouraged by his wife Brewer set about creating some new Island and Trop Rock tunes.
“This is who I’ve been all along,” he said. “Writing and recording Island, Trop Rock or whatever you wanna call it is natural for me. It’s easy.”
That easy attitude certainly comes across in the music, you feel Brewer actually could have been on the beach recording this album.
The album is full of great melodies; Island Time, A Little More Rum, Live Like Jimmy Buffet and if you’re not whistling by the end of Fishin’ On Credit I am going to come round and check you for a pulse!
Live Like Jimmy Buffett (album)
Brewer took care of production duties at his own studio and being a multi-instrumentalist was able to play and sing all the parts too.
“With other music I always feel like I could’ve written it better, or done a better production or sang it better. I’m never quite happy with it, ya know. With this album it’s like gravy. I hardly ever do a second vocal take. And it’s like there’s no rules. If I wanna throw in a goofy percussion part or change styles I can do that,” he said.
This really is a great album, well written, well produced and very well performed. We’re thrilled to feature it as our Album of the Week and Brewer certainly feels at ease with his new Trop Rock persona; “It’s my music. It makes me happy. It makes me feel good. And hopefully it’ll do that for other folks too. That would just be the icing on the…or the…lime on the margarita, or something!”
Well it certainly makes us happy and we think fully deserves our 5 out of 5 Palms rating as it’s a must have for your collection. Hear tracks from the album throughout the week on Palm Tree Radio.


The latest album from Donny – Zimzala

cdbaby2google-play-128Amazon-MP3-pgp2itunes2Get it on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, CDBaby, etc.