The Singing Chiropractor
Music

The Singing Chiropractor: Donny Van Slee

There are many singing acts here in Music City from all walks of life. As some of you know I am fulfilling my aspirations in Audio. My old co-worker introduced me to an audio engineer at one of the local bars and let me shadow him for a couple weeks. This gave me the opportunity to meet some of the wonderful upcoming acts in Music City. One of them was Dr. Don, The Singing Chiropractor. Dr. Don has a new single out he just released about his experience in Music City called “In the Bucket with All the Stickers on It.” I asked Dr. Don to share his story with us in his own words. Please check it out below!

Music City

It’s actually a crazy story how I ended up in Nashville, as The Singing Chiropractor. I’m not even supposed to be here. I’m supposed to be one year into owning my own chiropractic practice.

I was finishing up chiropractic school in Florida (where I’m from) and decided to complete my internship in Castle Rock, CO.  The internship was three months long, so I had to drive there to bring everything I needed. Well, I had to pass Nashville, TN to get there. And as musician that was currently playing at tiki huts and breweries through college, I had to stop and see what the fuss was all about. 

And that’s when I saw Broadway for the first time. So many neon lights, so many live bands… my heart was pounding, and my mind was racing 100 miles an hour. Mind you, I come from a small town in Florida called Weeki Wachee. It’s on the central-west coast. We’re known for the Weeki Wachee Mermaid show. Google it, it’s pretty cool. It’s been going on since the 40s. Super pretty place, right off the coast. But super small with minimal night life. 

So, when I saw Broadway, I was going nuts. I literally had no idea something like this existed. Not to mention it was a Monday night. There’s nothing past 9:00 PM on a Monday night in Weeki Wachee. My mind was blown.

Becoming The Singing Chiropractor

To make a long story short, I get to Colorado and start sending a ton of emails out the all the venues on Broadway that I could find. Not sure why, but this guy named Uncle John decided to respond to my email who would later change my life.

I just want to say, I had a hell of a time in Colorado. When I was there, I was performing three, sometimes four times a week during my internship. I met so many amazing people who showed me so much love for my music. I will definitely be going back there in the next year to play at some of those venues again. Colorado will always have a special place in my heart.

When I finally finished my internship it was time to drive back to Florida to graduate from chiropractic school. Thats when I met up with Uncle John for an audition. The audition experience is a whole story on its own but basically, he yelled out “you’re hired, play another one.” After, only performing one song. So yeah, I did it! What a cool moment that was.

I leave Nashville to graduate school and drive back as soon as possible to start playing at these honky tonks. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Getting a doctorate was hard but learning how to front a band in honky tonks was one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced in my life.  I probably knew 10 country songs when I moved in with Uncle John. That’s right, he even let me stay at his place for 3-4 months until I was able to settle in and find a spot of my own. It’s a pretty big place and there was actually two other musicians living there who were playing at the honky tonks too. 

In the Bucket with all the Stickers on it

Fast Forward a whole year, I currently perform 2-4 times during the weekend on Broadway (I found a full-time job as a chiropractor Monday-Thursday). Hence, The Singing Chiropractor. It’s a ton of fun but one thing’s for certain, we live off tips. And as the front man, it’s my job to make sure the band gets paid. Also, being away from my family for a whole year gets to me sometimes.

So yeah, out came this song, “In the Bucket with All the Stickers On It.” It’s about making a living here on Broadway. The chorus goes, “If you wanna hear your song, that’s a $20 bill, in the bucket with all the stickers on it.” The tip bucket has a bunch of stickers on it. And every time someone requests a song, I was taught to never play a song for less than $20. Because let’s face it, we split the tips five ways and we’re out there busting our a**es to make a living. I also talk about leaving my mother, “I left my mother what a bummer, back in Weeki Wachee Springs, where the mermaids live, and where they swim, and where I used to sing.”

This will be my first song I ever attempt to make country. All my previous songs have a Jack Johnson type, beachy vibe to them. Groovy songs. But this one is straight country, with a full-blown fiddle replacing a lead guitar. I wanted to write something I can play with the band that would fit the crazy Broadway vibe. What was crazy was someone actually tipped the band $100 after debuting this song on Broadway!! Because the last line of the chorus goes, “and if you’re lovin’ what you hear, throw down a $100 bill, in the bucket with all the stickers on it.”

Recognitions

I can write a novel about all the other crazy things that happened during the time of this recording, like getting the song recorded completely for free by a Belmont student that I met while playing on Broadway (Shout out to my boy @tannercarlson). Also, the fact all the musicians on the track are all Broadway musicians who just happened to be free that night. And not to mention, the acoustic guitar I used on the track was purchased and gifted to me by this really nice couple who heard me perform a couple weeks prior to the recording. The blessings and the craziness goes on and on.

I hope someone got a kick out of this story! Also, I really hope this story inspires at least one young or older musician to just go for it. You only live once. I know that’s a cliché thing to say but you really do, so just go for it. Also, I really hope someone likes the new song “In the Bucket with All the Stickers on It.” – The Singing Chiropractor aka Donny Van Slee

“In the bucket with all the Stickers on It”

3 Comments

  • Judy Holmes

    I enjoy hearing “how life happened to me” stories. I like The Singing Chiropractor moniker too. I enjoyed your video on Utube. It is a true country sound. Chiropractors have helped me live pretty much physically pain free for the last 30 years and music has fed my soul forever so I’m pretty much in awe of someone whose working hard in both arenas!!👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼❤️ I live in Highlands Ranch, CO so if you do get back in the area to play I’ll try to catch your show. Best of luck to you. And thanks Amy for sharing this.

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