Reviews and Articles

Phlockers Magazine Cover Story by Katy Waugh

Trop Rock Musician of the Month
By Katy Waugh

The future of trop rock music looks and sounds like Donny Brewer. This highly creative Texas native appeared out of nowhere and is making a name for himself in the trop rock world and he’s doing it the right way… putting in the time and miles to get to every phlocking he can, jumping on stage at every opportunity and making new fans instantly. He has a personality as big as Texas but is humble and so approachable.
Donny and his wife, Michelle sold their home in Texas, bought a Winnebago and stepped out on faith that he could succeed through his music. No doubt, he will succeed. This kind of raw talent is just what trop rock fans crave and Donny delivers.

It’s interesting to me that it’s called “The Winnebago Tour.” How did that all come about?


Beach stage at Rendezvous 2016, Panama City Beach, Florida

It was kind of a perfect storm, timing wise, because everything came together at the same time. The kids were off to school finally and at the same time, the popularity started to happen with my trop rock, especially after Key West. We got to that spot in our lives where we either needed to sell the house or do something different because 3,000 square feet and two people doesn’t really add up. So it was kind of perfect timing for a change. My wife Michelle was at the end of her job, it wasn’t really going anywhere, so it seemed like the perfect decision to have her quit her job, sell the house, get a Winnebago and tour. It was time to get out there and meet all the different people in the Parrot Head Clubs across the U.S. and even other groups, but to take my trop rock to the people. It was just meant to be. So far it has been fantastic, it’s been great.
Of course you have your problems, your technical issues. We were up on the roof (of the Winnebago) today trying to get the leak fixed before the rain comes. But we are finding that the Winnebago solves some issues too, in that we don’t have to worry about driving for eight hours to a gig, play the gig, then either get a hotel room for the night or drive home. I’ve been touring my whole life, but this seems to make sense for us. We have the freedom to just drive until we’re tired and pull over for the night. We’ve found some cool places by accident that we would never have found before.
We found a little beach in the middle of nowhere, so there was just us and two fishermen, pelicans and seagulls and a few cranes and no cell service, you know. Talk about conducive to writing! When you are in those un-stressful moments, the songs just flow.

So the Winnebago Tour is serving multiple purposes.

It really is. Like I said, you would think it would be a stressful thing just jumping out there with no real knowledge on how to do it, be a full time RV’er, that is. It’s been completely de-stressful for me and my wife both. Ok, so we’ve got a problem… we’ve got a slider that won’t slide out, or slide in! How do we fix this? Really when it won’t slide in, that’s a problem! We park at Walmart sometimes and when you park an RV without hooking up to anything, it’s called ‘boon docking,” but when you do it at Walmart it’s called ‘wally-docking!” We do that quite a bit. (laughing) So we wally-dock quite a bit.

Sounds like a song opportunity to me!

Yeah, it really does! Everything’s a song to me! But we are just low maintenance people. We don’t need the hair drier plugged in every day. If we have a problem, we just fix it and move on. I’m very lucky to say that my wife is a very low maintenance wife and she loves just sitting by the beach.


Michelle Brewer with Donny in St. Thomas

Michelle is such a beautiful person.

Oh she’s amazing. Without her, this just wouldn’t be possible. I talked about her retiring from her job, but I gave her seven new jobs. From Winnebago driver to T-shirt person to remembering where I’m booked. She’s great at gigs too because she’s happy talking with the people and does the butterflying that I don’t always have the chance to do. She is complete support. Without her, I wouldn’t be able to do this.

Would you say that The Winnebago Tour has brought your marriage even closer together?

Definitely! You would think when you go from 3,000 square feet to 300, there would be some locking of horns there, but I think it’s quite the opposite. I mean, it’s waking up together everyday. It’s experiencing all the new things together. It’s work but it’s a vacation, it’s never one or the other. It’s always both and that’s de-stressful on a marriage as well.

monica gulf shoresSo it’s the definition of a true trop rock lifestyle.

It really is… it really is and that is going into my songs. The album that I’m working on now is a bunch of the songs that existed before we started going out on the road. But as a result of going out on the road, now I have a whole other album of songs that I’ve been working on. So now the decision is whether to throw some of those songs in with the new album that was already planned out, or save them all for the next album. So right now I’m kind of strategizing and figuring out when the new album is coming out.

What can you tell us about the upcoming CD?

I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to get all my favorite musicians all across the U.S. and get them all in the studio together and make it like a jam to show some of my bluesy Austin background. The album is going to be called “Blues Lagoon,” which will combine my blues background with trop rock. That was the whole idea but right now we’ve got the drum tracks recorded, but like I said, I haven’t decided which ones are going to be on there. That’s the other thing about being on the road. You have to come off the road to record the full studio way, which my first two albums were not done that way. They were done all in-house. Typically I record everything myself right there in the studio. The good news is that the studio is now in the Winnebago, but you don’t have the space to do full drum things. .So you’ve got to find your studio when you’re in town.

You mentioned other trop rock musicians that you are working with…


Donny Brewer with Rob Mehl, Charlie Imes, and Matt & Kelly Railean at Railean Distillery & Buccaneer Bar Craft Spirits Tasting Room

Yes, I’m very excited about that! I don’t mind dropping a few names. Of course, you know Matt Hoggatt, which we are still waiting on his part on this song, but it’s one of the few songs that when I test drove it with my wife, which I do with a lot of songs, it made her laugh all the way through.
So I’m very excited about that and that’s why I want to do this one as a single. Also, because the song was written because of Lyle Wilson’s (Radio A1A) fixation with skinny beer! So ‘Skinny Beer,’ being the song, is going to be hilarious if we can get Matt (Hoggatt), who co-wrote the song with me, to do his vocal part on there. I’m hoping to get it done by July 4th and Lyle Wilson’s 4th of July Extravaganza.

Let’s shift gears here and talk about your current CD, ‘Zimzala.” What does Zimzala mean?

Zimzala means a free spirited person who finds peace with their toes in the sand. Right? Like right now, we have our toes actually in the sand. We are on the beach! See? De-stress! The word of the day. I don’t even remember where I first hea

. Donny Brewer and Dani Hoy onboard The Norwegian Escape

Donny Brewer and Dani Hoy onboard The Norwegian Escape

rd that word. I can almost be certain that it came from my brother…if it’s a clever word, it came from my brother. It has some sort of surf background. It’s not an actual language, as I understand it. A lot of surf terms are actually multi-language or no language at all. I do not surf, but Ben Reyna, Senior Beans, is going to teach me to surf, so I already have some surf songs. I will learn to surf because there is something that fits trop rock when you think about surfing. There’s a song that I might include on the next album which features a surf medley. James White has told me he would trade licks with me on the surf song, if I record that song. So that goes back to our name dropping thing! Hopefully on this next album, we can get a Thom Shepherd song, and a couple of Dan Sullivan songs on there as well.
I’m hoping to work with more people. Talked with Brent Burns yesterday about a song that I have that I don’t know what to do with, but he’s got some insight on that. I don’t know, it might end up being the co-write album.

That would be an amazing experience.

Zimzala has songs that weren’t included on the first album for one reason or another. Plus there’s a bunch that were written specifically for the album. But they weren’t throw away songs, they were just like, ‘ok, we can’t record that because we don’t have this player or we don’t have that yet.’ I think I did a decent job, if I do say so myself, of getting the same quality as with the first album. A lot of people noticed the quality of the recording and the production and things like that. I think I matched that on Zimzala. But I also got a lot more of the ‘sing-along’ thing that people like about what I do.

I don’t think you have such a thing as a “throw away” song.

I’m proud of that. That’s what a lot of people tell me. One of my favorite things to do is produce a song. Forget about writing it, singing it, all those things. Producing a song is fun for me. It’s like the hobby part of it for me. Writing is easy. Playing is easy. But it’s a challenge to produce a song to get it to sound right and what is the bass part doing and how does it affect the vocals… those little things are the things that most people think the musician will just make that

6 Lyle Wilson of Radio A1A with Donny and Michelle Brewer

Lyle Wilson of Radio A1A with Donny and Michelle Brewer

happen when they come to play it. Those kind of decisions need to be made at the top level. A lot of people either don’t get a top producer and they just get a band to play their song, or they strum along, or they just don’t know how to do it. I think that’s huge for this type of music specifically. It’s not huge for country or rock or some of these other genres because those are not challenging to produce and make them sound like their genre, if that makes sense. It’s easy to throw steel pans on a trop rock song. It’s easy to put congas on a trop rock song. But to have the rest of the band not sound like country with congas and steel pan on it, is a challenge. But I enjoy that challenge.

Donny, do you see any of the Texas influence, being from Texas?

Oh yeah. Oh definitely. You know, I love to borrow from all my influences, really. Growing up playing country and blues and rock, especially playing in cover bands, you learn so many different styles and those all affect you, the way you write and the way you think about music. Specifically, some of the cover bands I’ve played with were, I don’t want to say anal, but they were very specific about learning the parts just as they are on the records and what that results in is you really become educated about what makes a song tick. For me, being raised on country and blues, those kind of things are definitely in the music, in the way that I write, the way that I sing. Off of Zimzala, “I Could Get Used To This” is a Lyle Lovett influence. I didn’t really try to hide that, you know? I would much rather pay homage to it than try to hide that that’s where it came from. I know that’s where it came from and I know that’s where it sounds like it came from. That’s why I like it. There are some Delbert McClinton influences there, certainly a lot of country influences. In fact, a couple other songs on there were supposed to be included on the new album, Blues Lagoon, because they are bluesy , including “I Could Get Used To This” and “The Retirement Song.” Those are both a little bit bluesier sounding and they were supposed to be on Blues Lagoon, but I was playing those songs live and people were asking if they were going to be on the new album. I said, “well, I guess so! Wasn’t the plan, but I’ll stick them on there.” But I’m happy that I did because it gives me a chance to show people that side of me early on so they won’t be so shocked when Blues Lagoon comes out and it’s not all trop rock.

John Reno, Bobby Summers, Jerry Diaz, Donny Brewer, Mark Mireles, Heli Martinez at LuLu's Bar And Grill

John Reno, Bobby Summers, Jerry Diaz, Donny Brewer, Mark Mireles, Heli Martinez at LuLu’s Bar And Grill

I think the average trop rock fan has a broader based taste for music and I think it’s important that they know you have that diversity.

Well that’s right. I’ve learned that too, playing a lot of house parties where your audiences are more likely to voice their opinions on what they’re liking and what they’re not because it’s more a conversation. Yeah, especially after they drink a few and they get to the end of the thing and you start doing Journey covers, that you know, their musical likes come out, for sure. That’s another thing I love to do, too.

So your background, as I understand it, is as a graphic designer?

That’s true. I was going to college for graphic design and back then it was rulers and protractors and trying to do lettering and things like that. A little over half way through my college career, computers came along and they stole the thunder and the need for a graphic artist dropped significantly. Not only that, the professors told me I would have to take another two and a half years of computer courses to catch up to that. So talk about the perfect storm, right at that exact same time, I got fired from my job at the book store for going to the beach and not coming back…which is the subject matter of the song, “Beach Bum,” off the first album. At the same time, I got offered to play full time on the road for a weekly salary. Didn’t matter how many gigs we played. I don’t remember what the salary was, but it was a lot more than I was making at the book store! It just all kind of came together at the same time. So I became a full time musician at that point. I learned a lot going out on the road about what you can and cannot do in your shows, how to book and how to be a road musician, really.

Because it is a business.

It is, it really is. Shortly after that, I got another gig doing the bigger shows in the arenas, working for Scott Hoyt, doing all the opening shows for all the big name country acts… the Tim McGraw’s, the Restless Hearts, and whoever else. So playing for those 90,000 crowds, I got THAT out of my system. I’ll tell you, it’s a rush, it’s an amazing thing to do for a little while. After a few gigs, it becomes the exact same 45 minute show and it loses its appeal quite quickly.

In the studio with Omar Vallejo

In the studio with Omar Vallejo

But you learned so much from it.

I learned so much from it, I really did. I learned about stage performance, about the differences in music in different towns… like the music you play at home, audiences in a different place may not care for it at all. So the difference in the different parts of the country and more importantly, the similarities, what everybody likes. I guess I didn’t really realize that I was learning those things, but now, years later, you start using those tools but wondered where did I learn that? From being on the road or being at that gig. It’s very cool. I’m glad that I’m now doing it to smaller crowds because I enjoy that so much more. I wouldn’t turn down a Buffett sized crowd, for sure, but I so much more enjoy the smaller crowd. That’s exactly what the song, “Palapa Joe” is about.

Donny with Franklin Godowns, aka Palapa Joe

Donny with Franklin Godowns, aka Palapa Joe

The story about Palapa Joe goes like this: Franklin Godowns is a guy in the Galveston area who has the amazing ability to remember every single word to every single song he’s ever heard. He happens to be a huge trop rock fan. I’m not even sure where I met him for the first time, you know, but it amazed me that I was fairly new on the scene and he knew all the words to all my songs. I think it was at Riddles In The Sand, the first year I met him in Galveston. Franklin asked me questions about all the other trop rock artists… do you know this guy? Do you know that guy? He’s an amazing guy! He’s almost song reviewing purity, you know? He will tell you exactly what’s up with the songs and he knows everything about every song. He carries around a little blow up guitar and microphone and he’ll sing along with you. But his internet radio handle is Palapa Joe. It made me smile at the last Riddles In The Sand in Galveston, because he asked me for my set list. He memorized it, as he always does and now it’s a thing and he gets upset when I go off the set list, which I do at about the third song. But it made me start thinking after I left that show. I was thinking about Franklin. I was thinking about how cool it is to play to 200 and not 90,000. Or 9… I’ve played to 9 before. But it’s a different kind of experience. It’s so much more enjoyable for an artist to look out there and see faces that you know, that you just had conversations with. So now you know how to change your song and change your lyrics and change your set list to play a different song that you didn’t intend to because you’re having that conversation with them. You can talk to them or they can hear you from the stage or the campfire, or wherever you are. So I started writing that song on the drive back to Austin from Galveston and I had it written within about 15 minutes. I had to pull over and get the whole song down before it got away, which happens. That’s how Palapa Joe came to be.

Going back to your background in graphic design, did you design the cover for your CD, Zimzala? Are you going to design the cover for Blues Lagoon?

Well, yes I did. I’ve done both of my covers with my artwork. That’s what the whole trop rock thing is all about. You write about things that actually happen to you and you experience things and then write about them. But you also kind of dream about things. You dream about the perfect world or at least the one that you want to be at. I guess that’s what Buffett meant when he said, “I sell escapism.” That’s really, when you go to the artwork on the album, you’re doing the same thing… you want to make it look like that perfect scene, that perfect image. Again, the producer in me loves that. The graphic designer in me loves that but the producer loves making sure that the colors make sense, does that look real or too fake? Does it look over the top or is it cute?
The Blues Lagoon album, we actually had a concept in mind and we were actually out there on what’s known as Carlos’ Island. Carlos being the puppy dog (referring to Eric Babin’s home and pet, where we conducted this interview). So Eric and Gina take Carlos on the

Donny with Eric EB Babin of Radio A1A

Donny with Eric EB Babin of Radio A1A

jet ski over there to that little island, which is 200 yards away. So we thought about getting back in the inner tube because I’m a huge floater, being from the Austin area, you know. Floating is my thing! And there will be a song on the album called “Floating,” by the way! We were out there floating away, trying to figure out a way to Photoshop me into the center of a lagoon shaped like a guitar. We got half of it there. Eric’s (Babin) friend Brian, told us he has a drone we could use to take some aerial shots. Alas, the clouds are rolling in, so we may not be able to do that. Next time through, we’ll get that done.

How does it feel to know that you are a strong contender for winning the Horizon Award this year at Meeting of the Minds?

You know, I get the same feeling as when we went down there the first time to Key West. We didn’t have any gigs when we went there and it was kind of a last minute decision. We decided to go on down there and see what this is all about. This is obviously huge in this market so we’ve got to go see what its all about. Seven days in Key West and we played on 16 stages! I was just sitting in with folks and I was just like, OK, this is amazing. On the first day, people were saying to me, “who are you again?” On the last day, they were saying, “come to OUR stage!” That feeling is what I’m getting now, specifically with people talking about Music On The Bay, which I could not attend, but there’s a buzz down there. That makes me feel like I’m doing this correctly. It also makes me a little nervous with Blues Lagoon because I’m straying away from it a little bit. But I think it’s not all about that. It’s about the live performances in this business. It’s about having great songs, having great production, but it’s also about performing, about the guy who will hang out after the show by the campfire with you and shoot the shit, you know? And I’m that guy!
As far as the Horizon award goes, if I get it, it’ll be this year. This is my opening year. I’ve considered doing a campaign like Bob Karwin…but if I did that, I’d have to be his running mate. Vice President… Vice something, LOL!
If I get the award, it would mean the world to me. It would solidify my place in the trop rock community. I don’t feel like I’ve done that yet. But I feel like that would make it official and that would be huge.

When I first met Donny Brewer, he told me how shocked he was to find a group of people like us who already love his style of music. He found us by accident, but what a happy accident it was! Keep on doing what you do so well, Donny.

Donny with his band the Dock Rockers

Donny with his band the Dock Rockers


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 in Phlocker's Magazine

May 2016 By Todd Alexander

Zimzala front 1400x1400When I get a new CD, I usually hope for 2 or 3 songs that I like well enough to add to my Favorites playlist. I can’t say that about this CD. That’s because I love them all. Every time I listen to it, a different song is my “favorite”. The CD is extremely listenable. There is a variety of styles and many of the songs blend styles where most listeners can enjoy them- even styles that typically aren’t their favorite. Donny’s voice, though good, doesn’t make you say “WOW”. The music/musicianship doesn’t make you say “WOW”. The way to voice, the music, and the songwriting blend together makes you say “WOW”! The songs and the styles are perfectly suited to Donny’s voice.

studioDonny is a relative newcomer to the Trop Rock scene but not to music or the beach. “I’ve been doing two things since I was a kid, playing music and hanging by the water. I’ve played in just about every kind of band, and being from Austin, I was heavily influenced by country dance halls and 6th street blues bars. Though I had toured the US playing arenas as a side man, and made a good living in cover bands, I never had success with my own music. My country, blues, and rock incarnations all fell to an abundance of competition in the market. All the while I had been writing music for a genre I never considered because I didn’t know it existed – Trop Rock. It was summer 2012, I think, around the time I finished my first album Live Like Jimmy Buffett.

It wasn’t until I was playing these songs at an acoustic gig, that Chris and Amy Durden told me that it’s not only a real genre, but there’s an entire community based around it. After playing my first house concert, I realized that not only are there people who would listen to the kind of music I make naturally, but that THESE ARE MY PEOPLE! It was so refreshing to know that the music I thought I was recording just for myself could be my career.”

Palapa Joe

Jammin’ with Palapa Joe

So having discovered Trop Rock, Donny quickly fell in love with “his people.” He soon discovered how much he enjoyed “the smaller crowds at Trop Rock shows where you look out in the crowd and actually know the names of the fans, and how cool it is to change your lyrics or song selection based on the connection you have with the audience.” He also has been impressed by their passion for Trop Rock, “I’ve played to arenas of 80 or 90,000 mindless Pop Country lemmings, and I’ll take room of 50 intelligent listeners every time.”

Zimzala (Defined as a “free spirited person who finds peace with the sand between their toes”) is Donny’s second CD. Both of his CDs were recorded in his home recording studio. This CD seems extremely smooth and polished. Donny uses lots of unusual, non-traditional sounds/sound effects and background vocals which give his music a rich, full quality. All of the songs on the CD were either written or co-written by Donny. Most of the songs on the CD are personal. “Every song on there is either completely true about me now or at some moment in my life. As songwriters, we always stretch the stories’ to the most utopian version, but I think if you write about yourself, you’ll always be real, and people pick up on that.” Two of the songs are about or inspired by special people in his life. Palapa Joe is inspired from Donny’s exposure to the Trop Rock scene. “There’s an amazing man named Franklin Godowns (aka Palapa Joe), who is a Trop Rock fan who happens to have the ability to remember every lyric to every song he’s ever heard, literally. I was inspired to write “Palapa Joe” by not just his ability but what he represents for me.”

Wendy Brewer

Wendy Brewer

Glow On is “a song my brother Ric and I wrote for my Aunt Wendy, another amazing person who, while touring the US photographing and documenting lighthouses for a book she was writing, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She not only beat it for many years, she became a champion and leader for cancer survivors including a faithful team called “Glow On” which has raised incredible amounts of money for the Susan G Komen organization. She passed this last year and my niece tells me that hearing the song helped ease her final moments. I plan to release a video of the song featuring pics of Wendy and many of her excellent photographs of lighthouses. Proceeds from all sales of the song go to the foundation in her name. You can find the book ‘Keep Your Glow On’ on Amazon.”

Donny’s brother, Ric has helped co-write many of the songs on these CDs. He also plays percussion on the CD. Several other family members also appear on the CD but not because this CD is a family venture. “I just tend to grab whoever’s walking through the house to do silly or large group backup vocals, and although there are no singers in the family, they’re always close by.” Donny will have to find new volunteers for his next recording. “Austin Texas has been my home all my life, but recently we sold the house, convinced my amazing wife, Michelle, to retire, bought an RV and are now full time gypsies – hence The Winnebago Tour. All credit goes to Michelle, who may have quit her job, but now has 7 or 8 new jobs working for me.”

The songs:
Hang Loose – A bit of a rocker with a Buffett-esque feel; a pretty catchy tune; great advice about living life a little laid back
Palapa Joe – a tribute to the super fans (represented by “Palapa Joe”) who love the music; this song could describe so many of us; upbeat story of the traveling music life and the appreciation of those who love/know the music; a great song and one of my favorites
Jump Ship – Tropical feel; gets you moving; have a ‘go for it’ attitude in love and life
Retirement Song- A sunny song of enjoying life like you’re retired- if you can’t retire, change your attitude/latitude; sounds like a fun way to look at things; enjoy your time with the special people in your life- life’s too short to not do what you enjoy
Too Much Quetila – Stories of being overserved or the perils/joys of excess- those things you do when indulging that you regret later (well, that depends on how shameless you are); many of us will be able to identify with at least some of the incidents described in this song
Wishing Well – has a reggae feel but even those who aren’t big reggae fans can enjoy this song; strong lead guitar and vocals
Coulda Been a Pirate – probably my favorite; beautiful song lamenting/regretting many possible outcomes of life but maybe missing being a pirate the most- but one can always pretend; great vocals; great keyboard riffs
Vitamin T – very tropical sound; about how Tequila serves as a vitamin/ health food and is an important ingredient to enjoying life and LIVING life
I Could Get Use To This – Another favorite; a bluesy/tropical blend; story of the joy of a new love and performing – and being content with what you have – dreams are great but reality can be great too, so be content with what you have
Footprints – Another favorite; a blend of styles- hard to describe- maybe tropical meets country meets jazz- that just brings a smile to your face as you listen; curiosity about those who enjoyed Donny’s favorite spot (the beach) before him and a bit of a cosmic connection to those who walked the beach before him
Keep Your Glow On- another beautiful song; mellow; a song about personal strength and overcoming struggles
That’s All I Wanna Do- A happy-go- lucky, sunny love song about enjoying life and spending fun time together
Zimzala – A reggae style singsong sing-along that describes so many Trop rock fans; doesn’t everyone want to escape to the beach?
Coconut Club – a fun song with a reggae, tropical sound; descriptive of so many of our favorite Trop Rock Tiki bars – a tropical version of “Cheers” theme describing the kind of bar we all want to find and call our home away from home: highlights his love of fun sign along type lyrics and fun sound effects
The Beer Song – Just a fun and funny tribute to the magical powers of beer; learn this one- a great sign-along when you catch him live.


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.