Mighty Cash Cats: Righteously Keeping The Music Of “The Man In Black” Alive

Written by on May 24, 2012 in CD / DVD Releases, Gigs / Tours / Events, Interviews, May 24, 2012 - Comments Off on Mighty Cash Cats: Righteously Keeping The Music Of “The Man In Black” Alive

The Mighty Cash Cats are a world-renowned tribute show honoring the music and spirit of  the late, great rebel country rocker Johnny Cash, who would have turned 80 this year and for whom there remains an ever-growing, fiercely loyal and devoted fan base. Fronted by guitarist/vocalist (and Johnny Cash lookalike) Michael J, The Mighty Cash Cats cover Johnny Cash’s career from his early hits that audiences all know and love to his final Rick Rubin-produced album “American Recordings” including fun Johnny Cash and June Carter duets. The band also plays Hot New Country Music, Rock ‘N’ Roll, and Blues. The band tours extensively in the USA, Las Vegas, Europe, Ireland and Israel while performing at festivals, fairs, casinos, summer concerts in the park, and corporate events.  The Mighty Cash Cats have been nominated by the Ventura County Music Awards in the Americana Category for their orginal song, “No More Lonely Days, Empty Nights” off their latest CD, “Americana Made.”  Vote here: www.vcmusicawards.com/mighty-cash-cats/ In June the band will be featured on German tevision show “RTL Punkt 12”. www.rtl.de/cms/news/punkt-12.html.

All Access Magazine (AAM) recently interviewed Mighty Cash Cats front person Michael Jay (MJ).

AAM: When and why did you decide to form the Mighty Cash Cats?

MJ: I formed the Mighty Cash Cats in 2006.  I have always admired Johnny Cash and his music.  I was especially drawn to some of the non traditional themes of his songs such as prisoners, the downtrodden, Native Americans, trains etc. He was not all serious, for example, the humorous song, “A Boy Named Sue” comes to mind.  He was a unique American icon both musically and culturally.  I don’t think there will be another artist like him in popular music. The mainstream record companies will probably never allow someone to sing about social justice themes.  He kept true to his minimalistic sound and musical roots even after achieving great success.  I had been playing and singing his music for many years in my band, The Rhythm Rangers. I started to notice a great upswing in interest every time I sang a Cash tune with the band.  I felt the time was right, but wanted to do it right; to pay homage to Cash and not be an impersonator.  People have told me that I sing and look like Johnny.  I am a former teacher, so part of my game plan was to educate about The Man in Black and his music.  I do a lot of musical workshops about Cash and the roots of his music in libraries all over California.  Part of my vision also was to have a female singer in the band doing June Carter.  She was a big part of his music and audiences love the Johnny and June duets we do on tunes like “Jackson.”

AAM: What have you found to be your age demographic to be?

 MJ: There seems to be a wide age demographic appeal to our music.  Recently, in the same week we did a show at a Library with elementary aged children in the audience, played at venue in Hermosa Beach with the majority of the audience in their early 20’s, and then did a concert at a retirement resort community in Palm Springs with the audience from 50–75.  Last month we did a concert for a teen aged audiece at Thacher School, a high school in Ojai, CA. The past couple of years we have played birthday parties for people turning 21, 25, 30, 50, and 60. . Last month we did a concert for a teen-aged audiece at Thacher School, a high school in Ojai, CA. AAM: What do you consider to be the very best show you have ever played and why? MJ: I would have to include several.  We played a show three years ago in Salt Lake City at an outdoor amphitheater that drew over 2000 people with the Beatles Tribute “Imagine”, billed as “Johnny Cash meets the Beatles.”  An odd billing, but it went over very well and we ended the show singing “Hey Jude” together. Both Cash and the Beatles provide a musical life soundtrack. We played a show at a the Jacobs Ladder Festival in Israel, right on the Sea of Galilee–very inspiring.  Our final show on tour last year was at the Orpheum Theater in Sioux City, South Dakota was standing room only and went over three hours with several encores.

AAM: What are some of your own favorite musicians and/or musical influences?

 MJ: Johnny Cash of course.  I love American roots music–rock, blues, and country.  Artists like Muddy Waters, Hank Williams, Eric Clapton, Alan Jackson, Carl Perkins, Elvis,  Aerosmith, and ZZ Top.

AAM: Besides the music of Johnny Cash, what other music do Mighty Cash Cats perform?

 MJ: We do several of our own original songs. We do a Tribute within our Tribute to “The Women of Country Music and Rock n Roll,” including tunes by artists such as Gretchen Wilson, Shania Twain, Martina McBride, patsy Cline, Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, and Sheryl Crow.

AAM: As a band that is basically self-managed and self-booked, what is the secret to your success in these areas?

MJ: First, you need to give the client and audience more than they ask for.  Reputation is very important in this business.  We have a steady band lineup without substitutes. We rehearse weekly.  It is important to maintain a web presence and to use the available social media. Don’t wait for the phone to ring.  You need to keep knocking on doors and sending out promotional packages.  Narrow cast the type of venues you want to perform at. We work for several different agents.  Make sure you deliver for the goods for them. Don’t be hard to work with.  Honor your word.  You also need to partner with the venues that book you to help promote your shows.  We have a mailing list and try to keep our fans informed where we are going to be.  We have a press agent named Doug Deutsch that does great work keeping us in front of the media.  Keep a YouTube presence.  Have a live video you can show your potential clients.  Have an up to date EPK.

AAM: Where would you like Mighty Cash Catrs to be, say, five years from now?

 MJ: I hope to be presenting our Tribute to Johnny Cash all over the world.  We have another record we are working on.  We want to incorporate more multi media in our show.      www.mightycashcats.com