Dominic McManus: On Stopping To Smell The Roses

Dominic McManus Talks Life On The Road And The Perks Of Life In A Small Town

Dominic McManus On Stage {Image Credit: Dominic McManus}

I admit, it’s really cool to say you know someone that has made it big. It’s also really cool just to know a nice person. Put it all together and you have Dominic McManus.

From Small Town Life To Life On The Road

Dom and I have been friends since the 90s, when I was a radio deejay at a radio station in Southwest Virginia and he was a member of a now defunct band called Even Keel. I worked the overnight shift on the weekends and he used to call and request songs while on long rides back from gigs. Good times. Fast forward a few years and Dom was playing for and touring with Jason Jones and then Steel Magnolia.

Dominic McManus On Stage With Steel Magnolia

Dominic McManus On Stage With Steel Magnolia {Image Credit: Dominic McManus}

Touring with a top country duo is hard, with long, grueling hours, even for a single person. But Dom is married with kids. Raising a family in this business is tough, so Dom made the decision to move back to his hometown of Pilot Mountain, NC., so that he could spend more time doing the important things – like teaching your kids how to ride a bike and helping them with their homework. If this all sounds very “Mayberry” to you, that is because it is. I am from Mount Airy, NC., the inspiration for the fictional town of Mayberry in the Andy Griffith Show and Dom and his family are just down the road a little piece in Pilot Mountain. Remember Mount Pilot?

A Chat With Dominic McManus

I got the chance to chat with Dom this week to see what he is doing now that he is “taking a break.” You will see that the picture that Dom paints of “taking a break” doesn’t include nap time.

Rock: What are you doing these days, now that you are not on the road as much?

Dominic McManus: Well first of all thanks for talking with me Dawn! Its been a while. Lets see, right now I am trying to get used to living a somewhat normal life! Haha. I’m in the early stages of planning for a blues band that I want to start. I want to infuse all the styles that I love, like Blues, Jazz, Western Swing, and Rockabilly. Its going to be my biggest project to date and I want to play here in the Triad. I started a Facebook group called “NC Piedmont Triad Blues and Jazz Society” It already has 200 members. I encourage anyone that’s local and loves the blues to join! I also teach guitar to students that want to learn or want to expand their playing, lessons are in Pilot Mountain, NC and I also offer online video lessons via Skype or Google. I also intend on getting into more recording with local studios.

Dominic McManus Talks Life On The Road And The Perks Of Life In A Small Town

Dominic McManus On Stage {Image Credit: Dominic McManus}

Rock: You have lots of experience in the business. I am sure you have tons of great stories and advice to give those hoping to be where you were.

Dominic McManus: Playing music professionally, regionally or locally is something a lot of people dream of doing. The saying is clichΓ© but true, “If you dream it, you can do it!” I want to help encourage that. I plan on offering bands, artists and local venues consulting services, on what it takes to get to Nashville, what to expect when you get there, what to do when you get there, etc. Or even how to dress for success on stage, how to act on stage, the dos and don’ts of performing. And for venues, how to book bands, plan music events, getting the most out of your entertainment by promoting it!

Rock: Who gave you advice on how to act and dress on stage? Or who were your people that you looked up to?

Dominic McManus: That’s a great question. Well when I was in Steel Magnolia the record label hired a consultant to help us with image and stage presence. He is a world renowned dancer and consultant named Robert Royston. He helped me a lot on how to act and dress on stage. I have to admit, I thought I was doing pretty good before he came along, but I was wrong. Haha. A good polished image and training on performance goes a long way. Its really the little things and unfortunately in today’s society, its a shallow yet important factor. There are a lot of folks that I’ve looked up to over the years. One of the most influential gentleman is a Earl Thomas Conley. I’ve had the honor of being a part of his band and hope to play more shows with him this year. Earl, or ETC as he’s also known, is an amazing person, entertainer and songwriter. He has had 22 #1 hits and has broken so many records. But you would never know it. He is so humble and LOVES his fans more than anything! Over the short amount of time that I’ve known him, he’s really touched my heart and taught me how to have fun on stage again. That is one of the most important lessons that I have had to be re-taught.

Rock: I just love Earl Thomas Conley, too. πŸ™‚ It’s great that you are using your experiences to help your small community. That is definitely an opportunity that people from a small town don’t often get.

Dominic McManus: Giving back to the community is something I’ve always wanted to be able to do. Now that I plan on becoming part of my community again I want to build a legacy in the NC Piedmont Triad for helping people in all aspects of music by passing on what I’ve learned as well as making people smile with music. Music, Love and Laughter are some of the secrets of a happy life, but none of them mean anything unless they’re shared with someone else.

Dominic McManus With Reba McEntire

Dominic McManus With Reba McEntire {Image Credit: Dominic McManus}

Rock: What is the longest you ever were on the road without being able to come home?

Dominic McManus: There were 2 times that I was on the road longer than I’d like to have been. In 2010, I was on the Brad Paisley H20 tour and I was gone 32 days. Then in the summer of 2013, I went to Montana with a great singer songwriter from Muscle Shoals, Alabama named Johnny Holland. We played the famous Marlboro Ranch in Clyde Park, Montana for 46 days!! When I finally got home my family and I went to Florida for 2 weeks!! Haha!

Rock: Florida for 2 weeks? That doesn’t sound too bad! How would someone who is interested in learning to play guitar contact you?

Dominic McManus: I’ve started a website called All of my contact info is on there. Facebook, Google+, Email, etc. I am very easy to get in touch with if someone needs guitar lessons, a guitar player or consulting.

Rock: If someone wants to catch you onstage, are you currently doing any live shows?

Dominic McManus: Currently most of my shows are out of town. But once I get my blues band started I’ll post all the dates on my website. I also plan on having the community help me name my blues band. So if anyone has any suggestions I encourage them to send me an email! Whoever comes up with the name I go with will have free tickets to any of my shows! Forever! I also plan on forming an acoustic duo group in the spring.

Do You Have A Name Suggestion For Dom’s New Band? Or Do You Have Any Questions For Dominic McManus About His Experiences On The Road?

About Dawn McAlexander

Dawn has been a music lover her entire life. She went to college in Boone, NC, an area that is rich in music and culture. She also worked as a radio deejay for 8 years and grew up in Southeastern, Va, a melting pot of different musical styles and traditions. She has been to more concerts than she can count in every genre you can imagine. She resides in North Carolina with her furbabies and her massive collection of Disney memorabilia.


  1. Awesome interview. It’s cool that you know him in real life. I think sometimes we look at “rock stars” and don’t think of them as being real people LOL, but he sounds very down to earth.
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  2. Nancy Graves says:

    Dom is one of the most sincere guys I know. I have been following his success since his early “before Nashville” days and he has certainly paid his dues to be where he is today. Music is certainly his passion and I am very proud of him for persuing that in ALL ways, just not professionally.

    • Dawn McAlexander

      I agree. I remember going to see him at the Country Corral which is now shut down and another place – maybe it was Arizona Pete’s – way before Nashville. I wish I could have caught him on one of the bigger tours. It would have been cool to see the progression over the years.

      • nancy graves says:

        I first met Dom in 2004 when he was playing with the Even Keel band….I live in Virginia so it didn’t take long for us to start making weekend trips down to North Carolina to hear them play…he was with some very talented guys back then…. but had a passion to pursue that career professionally…even though we missed him when he moved to Nashville , we always kept up with how his career was going and seen him on the road when we could…he has made his friends and long-time supporters very proud…even now that he’s back in North Carolina I’ll still make that trip down that road to catch him whenever possible….he has a wonderful talent

  3. That’s so awesome that you personally know him! The closest famous person I know is Kevin Sharp. He was famous in the 90’s for songs like “Nobody Knows”, and “She’s Sure Taking It Well”. He is my cousins fathers brother,lol. He performed at my cousin’s wedding reception.
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  4. How cool! Around here, we see musicians fairly regularly, but to actually know one is another story. πŸ™‚

  5. I wish I knew a rock star! lol I hope he finds a new name, I can’t wait to hear what they sound like!
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  6. What a great interview! You did a wonderful job!
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  7. I bet this was a great expereince for you! I cannot think of a great name right now but I wish him all the sucess in the world.

  8. That is really cool to have a friend who is a singer/performer. Thanks for sharing his website, I knew someone who needs a guitar lesson.
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  9. What a great interview with an obviously multi talented and down to earth performer! I have not heard any of his music that I know of anyway but will be listening for his songs in the future.
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  10. Dawn,
    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story. I greatly appreciate your friendship and support over the years. And I’d also like to thank everyone for their kind words in the comment section.


  11. I love that he is teaching others and helping them reach their dream. I would not mind checking out his classes, unfortunately I am stuck to the online option. I wonder if the concerts will be available online.
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  12. You did a great job with that interview, Dawn. He seems like a really nice, down to earth guy.

  13. My husband and I have been fortunate to meet Dom recently and jam with him in Greensboro, NC. Our band, Toot & the Longshots, won the 2013 Piedmont Blues Preservation Society’s band challenge and played at the International Blues Challenge on Beale Street in Memphis. Right now, life and family come first for us, too, so it’s so nice to have an opportunity to play the music we love with someone who appreciates and does it as well as Dom does.

  14. Nice. I find it very inspirational to see a person try hard and reach their dreams.
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  15. Thank you for this great interview! I love the story and how Dominic has worked hard for his success. Thank you for sharing with us!
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  16. I know it has to be tough living on the road as a musician
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  17. If i am honest i have never heard of him but still he seems down to earth for some one that is a “rock star” and also great that you know him personally.
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  18. Love reading about real people who made it big but still know who they are! Great interview showing the ‘real person’ behind the star power!
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  19. I havent heard of him, but Im not much into music. Great to know he is still acting like a regular person!
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  20. Very cool and great interview I love music and musicians they fascinate me with their talent. I think it is so amazing to have that kind of ability to play. thank you for sharing this interview and so happy to see your friend getting to do what he loves.
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  21. How cool! Awesome job with the interview. I wish I could think of a cool name for him. I commend him for teaching others. He seems so down to earth.

  22. He is right that when you dream it, you can do it. You just have to work for it to achieve it.
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  23. Teresa McCluskey says:

    I have not heard of him before but I am going to youtube him now! πŸ˜€

  24. Very cool interview! I’ve never heard of him, I’ll have to check his music out. He sounds very down to earth and friendly!
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  25. What a great conversation! Hes a cutie! I think it would be awesome to be a musician and play with such greats! I’ve always wanted to meet Reba Too!
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  26. Sounds like a down to earth person! They are harder to find than we all think . Great interview
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  27. What a lovely interview! Dom seems like a genuine, down to earth, what you see is what you get kind of guy. It’s got to be tough to live the life of a performer and still maintain a healthy family life. He seems to be holding it together well. Wishing him much success in the future!
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  28. Sounds like a real down-to-earth guy with a lot of heart! I need to check out his music now!
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  29. What an awesome interview- love it!
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  30. Loved reading the interview! Thanks for sharing!
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  31. How cool is it that you know? What a great interview!

  32. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Great interview. He comes across as a really good guy with his head in the right place.

  33. How awesome to know him so well and how he returned to his home. Great interview, Il have to check him out more.
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  34. Great interview! That is so awesome that you know him in real life!
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  35. Great interview. I am from a small town myself and would love a chance to visit Mount Airy or Pilot Mountain and to see Dom play. It’s so cool that he played with Steel Magnolias.
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  36. I love country! Nashville is one of my favorite cities! Great interview!

  37. Great interview. Awesome job!
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  38. I haven’t heard of Dominic McManus before, but I’m sure it’s because I live in Spain! Loved the interview! It’s great to get to know a famous person down to earth!
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  39. Great interview questions! He sounds like a very down to earth guy.
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  40. Not only do I love Reba but it looks like he is having an absolute blast! I love is purple guitar!
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  41. I know a few people who have gotten pretty famous, and it’s always such a reminder that everyone comes from somewhere! We’re all just people, but there’s no denying some just have that X factor. I wish I did!
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  42. I love when you hear stories like this of famous people who are doing something special for family – like taking time off to be with the ones he loves! Great interview!
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  43. What a cool thing being able to interview an old friend after he made it big!

  44. Great interview. How fun that you knew him “before” You asked some great quesitons.
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  45. i have never heard of him before, sounds like he puts on a nice show!
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  46. Very cool interview, it’s awesome that you knew him for so long.
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  47. I haven’t heard of him before but he won me over with the fact he put his priority on being near his family. I love that!
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  48. Thank you for this, I love reading about artists and their journeys! Always from the heart. And I adore that photo of Dom and Reba!
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  49. This reminds me of the old PBS show, “and now you know the rest of the story.” It is nice to read about the people behind the stories we hear.
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  50. Great interview! I look forward to hearing some of Dominic’s music!
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  51. This definitely sounds like it was a great interview! Look at that picture with Reba! I love the sound of her voice. I used to watch reruns of her show always! LOL.
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  52. WOW Awesome interview! I don’t know if I could survive if I was away from ym family that long…no wonder he took a 2 week vacay to Florida with them!
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  53. I’ve never heard of him before until now so it would be tough trying to come up with a name or even asking a question. Thanks for sharing him with us though, now I know about someone else I would never have known about.
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  54. Learning to play the guitar sounds fun and Dominic McManus seems like an amazing instructor. The only name that comes to mind for a blues band is “Hometown Blues” and only because the article talks about Domenic’s hometown. His last name is pretty cool, he can just go with McManus as well.
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  55. First of all, Dominic is super hot! i think it is awesome that he actually took the time to comment on this in interview thread too! I love rock music, and want to check out some of his music now!
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  56. Thanks for the great post! On a side note I love Reba!

  57. I am the mom of a future rock star. We too are from a small town, and touring with a band would be an ultimate dream come true for him. I will definitely have him read this interview. Great post.

  58. What a great experience and interview! Thanks for sharing

  59. Thank you everyone for all of the kind words and interest in this Article. It sure makes an old boy feel good! Also, Thank you Dawn for taking the time to do this interview!! All the best!


  60. Carolyn Hicks says:

    Love the interview. I got to see Dom perform with Earl Thomas Conley last year. Had a blast! Planning on seeing them again this year. He is a very talented young man. And ETC and the ETC Band are the best!

    • Dawn McAlexander

      I have seen Earl Thomas Conley and Dom perform, but never together. Too bad. I will have to try to get out to one of the shows soon. πŸ™‚

  61. Zach McManus says:

    I am his son. And he is my father. We. Are. Groot.

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