Rascal Flatts’ Joe Don Rooney Plays Producer, Too

Do you ever wonder what artists do when they aren’t making their own music? Like, do they golf, cook, read, do laundry? I’m sure they all have hobbies, but forRascal Flatts’ Joe Don Rooney, his hobby appears to be making other artists’ music. Like this great country singer, Brian Taylor, who Rooney’s been producing on and off for the past few years. I discovered him because he used to be a drummer in Kenny Chesney’s road band, and he has now set his sights on singing.

Rooney discovered him when Taylor was doing some cover songs with his band at the Stage in Nashville, when he and fellow Flatts member Jay DeMarcus sat in on a couple of songs. But you know how the wheels turn kind of slow in Nashville. So a few years went by and Rooney eventually set up a session. “He called, and I’d go to his house, and we’d go hang out and listen to demos and drink beer,” Taylor told me. One of the songs that came out of those hangs is “America’s Heart,” which Rooney wrote with Music City big-shot Bob DiPiero (“Southern Voice” and “You Can’t Take the Honky Tonk Out of the Girl”). It’s very good, but so are “Endlessly” and “Sanity.”

Taylor’s MySpace bio has a quote from Rooney saying, “I heard Brian on a few occasions singing in clubs downtown, and I remember being blown away with his voice. When I found out nobody was working with him just then, I thought, ‘Wow! Lucky me!’ He is a singer’s singer. No matter what it is, up-tempo or ballad, when Brian is singing, you will be moved.” That’s pretty high praise from a guy who is part of one of country’s biggest trios. But Rooney himself was just a guitarist in Chely Wright’s band when he met DeMarcus and they started playing gigs in small Nashville bars. So maybe Rooney sees a bit of himself in Taylor. And maybe when he sees talent — whether it’s on a big stage or a tiny one — he wants to let the world hear all about it.

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