In early April, Dana Deatherage snail-mailed a copy of his album, Songwriter: Volume I, to Fort Worth Weekly. One of the songs — “420 Friendly” — pays homage to the Devil’s cabbage, and Deatherage was releasing it as a single for April 20. I’d never heard of Deatherage and stereotyped him immediately. The CD cover featured a rustic and faded brick building with boarded up windows, and the back photo showed a tousled Deatherage leaning against the building and wearing a trucker cap, faded jeans, and an old gray work shirt with tails hanging out. I figured I was about to hear a barrage of Red Dirt hell-raising anthems and sad love songs delivered in a uber-twangy and raspy drawl ala Steve Earle. Instead, a sweet tenor voice emoted mostly heartfelt songs of family, loving your neighbor, turning the other cheek, acceptance, appreciation, and choosing to be happy. The music was country, but the lyrics were confessional, philosophical, and gentle. Positive messages softened the dark songs and made clear that Deatherage has struggled through hard times to find this sense of peace. (Later, I learned that a personal bankruptcy and a long bout of depression litter Deatherage’s recent past.) Promoting a zen sense of calm is what Toast & Jam is all about, and I figured Deatherage would make a great guest even if he doesn’t live in Tarrant County. He is a self-employed landscaper at Grass Man Lawn Care in Joshua. Director Wyatt Newquist and I made the hour-long haul down there and found Deatherage hanging out in his backyard that he landscaped himself while hunkered down during the pandemic. We had planned to sing the rowdy “420 Friendly,” but I suggested we switch to one of Deatherage’s philosophical little gems that make his album so special. We chose “Dog Eat Dog.” I hope you like it as much as I do. Thanks for being on the show and writing such a cool album, Dana! — Jeff Prince