Robert Hilburn @roberthilburn • Apr 10
Thanks to the Michael and Mighty Cash Cats band for conveying musical spirit of Johnny Cash so wonderfully at my talk in Glendale tonight
Los Angeles Examiner http://www.examiner.com/article/the-mighty-cash-cats-rock-the-lab
“The Mighty Cash Cats once again rocked The Lab Brewing Company in Agoura Hills, CA on Saturday, Nov 10, with their tuneful Tribute to Johnny Cash and June Carter . For those not in the know, The Mighty Cash Cats, featured on Germany’s TV show RTL Punkt 12–consist of Michael J. Smith (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica and bass), Leticia Blumette (bass, lead vocals and guitar), Justin Young (drums and vocals) and Oliver Thin (guitar and vocals).
They are a world-renowned group of musicians whose show focuses on six decades of music by the “Man in Black”, Cash and June Carter duets. They also perform a “Tribute to the Women of Rock ‘n’ Roll and Country Music” in which they cover some of country and rock music’s top female performers.
The inclusion of more contemporary country cuts and classic rock songs while meant to make the show more appealing to general audiences is actually a highly appropriate idea as Johnny Cash had covered an album full of more contemporary cuts before his death.
Smith’s love and knowledge of both Cash’s history and his music was an obvious indicator that the act is no mere “flavor of the week”. Smith and company are not simply (ahem) cashing in on the current lucrative tribute band trend.
Their clothing, playing and vocal styles, and even their knowledgeable between bits banter reveal a genuine commitment to the man and his music. Mind you, The Mighty Cash Cats are no one-trick pony show here, folks. The Mighty Cash Cats had entertained a crowd of mainly twenty and thirty-somethings.
A review of a Mighty Cash Cats show in the Los Angeles Music Connection Magazine: http://library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1103550698987-586/MIGHTY+CASH+CATS+MUSIC+CONNECTION+LIVE+SHOW+REVIEW+MAY+2012.pdf
“Michael J Smith leads the performance playing a black acoustic guitar. It is impossible not to be drawn to the bass texture of his voice–and his physical and aural resemblance to Johnny Cash is practically eerie. Letica Blumette steals the stage with the energy covering songs by Shania Twain, Gretchen Wilson and Pat Benatar. The Mighty Cash Cats are purely live entertainment for a live audience. They know how to talk to the crowd and maneuver their instruments and voice to create a body of sound for each song, no matter the genre or mood. The Mighty Cash Cats are a band with the musical chops to cover Cash, Benatar and Idol. They closed with Cash’s Orange Blossom Special to raccous applause!”
The Los Angeles All Access Magazine review: Mighty Cash Cats: Righteously keeping the Music of “the Man in Black” Alive. http://allaccessmagazine.com/2012/05/24/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 performing art centers, theaters, festivals, fairs, casinos, summer concerts in the park, and corporate events. In Aug, 2012, the band was profiled on the highly rated German television 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 overCalifornia. 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. Last month we did a concert for a teen aged audience 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 inSalt Lake Cityat 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 inIsrael, 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.”
Jerusalem Post review: “If the audience closed their eyes during Michael J’s show they, no doubt, thought that the country-rockabilly crooner, Johnny Cash, had managed to find his way back to the terrestrial bandstand.” http://www.jpost.com/ArtsAndCulture/Article.aspx?id=161555