This isn’t the first time Griego has kicked up dust on the country scene. In 2007, a spirited video he created for his infectious ode to “Wal-Mart Girls” received spins on CMT, racked up thousands of views on YouTube and made him a sensation in parts of Europe.
Griego first came to Nashville after a prominent record executive heard him sing the National anthem and perform in concert following a PRCA rodeo in Laughlin Nevada; naturally, Griego rode into and out of the arena on horseback. Over the years, the singer lived on and off in Music City, learning from masters who became friends and mentors- including Hank Cochran, who wrote hits for Ray Price, Patsy Cline, Elvis, and Eddy Arnold, among others. He connected with Cochran especially well because the two of them shared the common talent of “writing songs in our sleep.” Another one of the surviving sessions from this time in Griego’s life is a duet with Waylon Jennings that Griego penned titled “At The Crossroads”; the singer will be releasing it on an upcoming project along with a video for the song featuring rare footage of Jennings.
“The first production consideration for me is always believability. The music you’re hearing is me, and to quote the Red Lane and Merle Haggard’s song that kicks the album off: ‘I Wear My Kind of Hat’.” Another track on the outlaw trail is a song Griego penned about the Original Outlaw. “He Was an Outlaw”, included on the album as a hidden track, is written from the scriptural account of the life of Jesus…. the song directly reflects a belief I have: there are only two teams in music – you are either working for The Man, or your not, there is no middle ground.” Another pleasant surprise is the Spanish ballad “Me Enamore De Ti”, which Griego co-wrote with BMI songwriter of the century, Raul Monreal.
Griego’s family legacy includes the founding of El Paso in 1598, and the colonization of Santa Fe in 1610; which began with his ancestor Don Juan Griego, who sailed to the Americas in the late 1500s with famed Conquistador Don Juan de Onate y Salazar. Salazar, the Colonial-Governor of the New Spain province of New Mexico and founder of various settlements still thriving among the present day American Southwest, arrived long before the British colonized the Eastern Seaboard. “The truth is, the Spanish were the first Caballeros, America’s first Cowboys, and other European settlers learned how to wrangle from these Spaniards, who brought the horses. I am proud of the role my ancestors played in building America, and that includes providing horses for America in the Spanish-American war centuries later. All of this history also fuels my lifelong affinity for my home in the Southwest, from Texas and Arizona, to the shores of California.”
Griego’s mother’s side of the family also played an important part in his musical evolution. “They were moonshiners from the bluegrass hills of Kentucky”, says Griego, “and my grandfather left me his Spanish gut string guitar.” After being struck by lightning while in college, Griego rehabbed his arm and motor skills by learning to finger pick classical music. “Then I started dreaming songs in my sleep and charting this music. I learned how to play chords on the guitar from the songs I had written and charted.”
Another fascinating part of Griego’s background is that while he has been “payin’ his dues,” traveling around the country playing thousands of gigs, he has also been a successful entrepreneur and businessman. A graduate of Northern Arizona University with degrees in business management and business marketing, he has owned a chain of Subway restaurants, a convenience store, a Greyhound bus franchise, and a honkytonk in Prescott that, decades earlier, was where Waylon Jennings first met his famed longtime drummer Richie Albright.
“There’s an old saying – ‘when the student is ready, the master shall appear,’ and legends like Hank, Red, Max D. and Waylon were always there to help me cultivate and grow as a songwriter and artist…Music is a journey, and my wish is to take the listener on that journey of life, love, and tears, with laughter along the way, by writing and recording songs I hope they can relate to in there own unique way.” says Griego.
Griego adds, “When I create music, I’m sharing my life experiences with a person to help them pass through their trials, which in turn helps me; and honestly, reflecting back over the years, that is one of the only ways I have survived the ride.”
These days, any young country upstart can get with a stylist, don a sporty Stetson and call himself a cowboy – but those chaps hanging over Danny Griego’s saddletree aren’t just for show. A real deal Outlaw Country artist, with a wry sense of humor in the spirit of his old compadres: the late Waylon Jennings (whose former band tours with Griego) and Billy Joe Shaver (who does a rare duet with the singer/songwriter on “Feelin’ Like A Three-Legged Border Town Mexican Dog”), Griego has been riding, roping and playing honky-tonks for more than half of his life.
Some 10 years after Griego established himself on the exclusive songwriting scene in Nashville, writing with country songwriting Hall of Famers like Hank Cochran, Red Lane and Max D. Barnes, and writing tunes later recorded by Jennings, Shaver and Michael Martin Murphey, this Arizona bred, Texas based Troubadour is finally getting his due as a solo artist. He brings a deep rooted Southwestern ancestry and over 3,000 live gigs (and counting) across the U.S. to his multi-faceted debut album whose autobiographical title speaks the truth about Griego, his life and his music: Cowboys, Outlaws & Border Town Dogs.
Not surprisingly, considering Griego’s diverse blend of styles including Outlaw Country, Americana, Mainstream Country and Latin music, key tracks received airplay before the official release of the album; which features seven songs written or co-written by Griego. Rolling down the highway in “Desirea,” a 54-foot Peterbilt 379 semi truck fashioned into a tour bus, Griego experienced one of the greatest thrills of his life. He recently heard his playful, tongue in cheek “I Think She Only Likes Me For My Willie” and “Feelin’ Like A Three-Legged Border Town Mexican Dog” on XM Sirius’ ‘Outlaw Country’ station and on ‘Willie’s Roadhouse.’ The official lead single, the heartfelt ballad “The Coast is Clear” (penned by Red Lane and Scotty Emerick) hit the Top 30 Adult Contemporary Chart.