Dusty Springfield said, “the only one who could ever reach me, was the son of a preacher man.” And once Mat Donaldson extended his reach, it was all within his grasp.
Born to an Evangelist father, and drummer/vocalist/pianist mother, his introduction to music was a little different than most. He says, “my earliest memories of music are a combination of gospel hymns and Elvis. Both Kings were big in my house.” He would perform at tent revivals and church functions often with his sister, but when he was 10 his world turned upside down. “My older cousin Billy played me my first KISS record. My whole world changed that day. I knew I was going to play and make music until my last day.”
Not long after, he and local artist Mac Ross starting playing music in his garage. He remembers, “I was 11, he was 10 and the band was called Emerald.” Discovering and developing his unique style on the kit, from there he says, “it was a barrage.” Playing with the likes of Challenger, Minotaur, Fair Warning and Viper, it wouldn't be until he joined L.O.U.D. that the creator would emerge. He remembers, “I have written lyrics and poetry from the jump, but writing with L.O.U.D. was 100% collaborative.” As L.O.U.D. toured extensively, a different directive took precedence. “I’ve always been most at home when I’m shaping, arranging, and producing music that has come to me from another source” he says, “but I have to be inspired by it.” Enter Weston Horn and The Hush.
An eight piece rock band complete with a four piece horn section, Weston Horn and The Hush give a nostalgic big band feel an edge. As the co-founder with lead vocalist and guitarist Weston Horn, they scoured the Tulsa music scene to safeguard they had the best fit possible for their vision. “We have some really strong musicians in that band, and that always makes it fun.” Although a cohesive production from start to finish, Donaldson says, “I love the individual musicianship that turns into a collective.” Affectionately donned “The Captain” he is the driving force that steers the ship for the band. His title goes beyond drummer, and incorporates musical director and producer. He believes the importance of building around the strength of the band is key. While it’s different for any band he says, “I really try and focus on the unique vibe of each project.” The band has recorded two albums at the storied Dockside Studio in Maurice, LA, and with The Captain’s guidance and skill, Volumes I and II are timeless pieces of art.
As the owner of Tulsa landmark Drum World, he recalls, “I opened Drum World to bring a place for drummers to hang like I had seen on the road while touring.” 31 years have passed, and he says, “I still love getting up in the morning, getting to be around musicians, and talk about our love of drumming everyday.” It has and continues to be about so much more than drumming. From novice to expert, and everyone in between, this place was built for you. “You can get all your drumming questions answered, and get real help with where you want to go with your drums. We help drummers have drums they love, and love drums they have.” He confirms it’s never boring and emphasizes, “it’s about having someone in your corner that takes it as personally as you do.” And still, the legend continues.
Attending the NAMM Show (National Association of Music Merchants) annually, his legendary status was put center stage as only three Tulsa drummers were honored with an invitation to be interviewed for the NAMM Icons and Legends series; David Teegarden, Jamie Oldaker, and Mat Donaldson. Company worth keeping, and a testament to the talent that is Tulsa.
Mat deems himself “lucky” to be a part of the Tulsa music scene and states, “it’s the diversity and spirit of the artists in this town. Historically and currently, you can truly find unique sounds and styles here.” A fierce believer in the Satchel Paige quote: “Don’t look back, something may be gaining on you” he does not dwell on the past. However, he does embrace and appreciate it while holding it dear. He would advise a young Mat, “you’re going to be lucky enough to play on a lot of stages with a lot of incredible musicians. Enjoy the moment and take it all in.” Lucky for Tulsa, Mat Donaldson has many more of those moments to give.