3 quick questions . . .
with Michael J (Smith) of The Mighty Cash Cats
Michael J is the founder of the internationally-known Johnny Cash tribute band The Mighty Cash Cats. The Mighty Cash Cats currently consists of Michael J on lead guitar, vocals and harmonica, Leticia Blumette on bass and vocals and Oliver Thin on guitar and backing vocals. Their rockin’ repertoire spans six decades of music and multiple genres including blues, country, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll.
They have played venues of varying sizes and locations across the globe and were once featured on the German hit TV show RTL Punkt 12. As this goes to press they are preparing for the official release of their new album The Ballad Of Johnny And June at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 26, 2015 at Jonny Reese’s Amigos Surf Cantina in Ventura, California. Jonathan McCuen (Dwight Yoakam) will even be opening the event.
Here are the 3 quick questions asked of Michael J:
1. What was it like the first time you played for money and realized this was what you wanted to do for a career?
Michael J: When I was a young drummer in NY, I had an opportunity to play with a Country Rock group. At the time, I did not like Country Music, except, oddly, I loved Johnny Cash. Being a young snob and studying drums with New York studio ace, Ralph Purfado, I wanted to play in odd time signatures.
I told Ralph about the offer I had—I thought he would sneer at it. After all, I had just seen him play in The Tonight Show orchestra with Doc Severson. His advice to this young drummer was—“Take the gig! It will be great for your time. Because no matter how many odd time signatures you can play in and rudiments you may know, if you can’t keep time, you will never work as a professional drummer.”
I took his sage advice and my first gig with Country band was touring colleges all over the East Coast. And getting paid! We even got a chance to do a festival with Joan Baez on the bill. After that I thought that Country Music wasn’t so bad and was harder to play than I had imagined. As my drummer guru taught me—“It’s all about time.”
My next inspiration came when I was on tour in Alaska and our female vocalist got laryngitis. The show must go on. I found out that I could sing. After that, I decided to take up guitar and front my own band.
2. You’re going to die but you get enough time to do one final project. (Now it’s a given that you would love to work with Johnny Cash and you are, in fact, a living tribute to him but here there are no limits.) You can do whatever you want and work with anyone you want living or dead. What is the last project you do before you die?
Michael J: I would love to do a Blues record with Muddy Waters. In addition to Muddy, Stevie Vaughn on guitar, Jack Bruce on the bass, John Bonham on drums, and Little Walter on the harp.
I would co write the tunes with Muddy and Willie Dixon. Eric Clapton would help produce and also add guitar. Muddy is my favorite blues artist and one of my favorite in any genre. His voice, guitar playing, song writing, and charisma are a hard to find combination.
3. What’s next?
Michael J: As soon as we get the new CD up and running, we are working on a new record. We already have 7 tracks done. It sounds different than anything we do know. It has more of a blues influence.
Cuts include “Alaska Boogie” about a barroom brawl in Alaska, “Bikers to Bankers”, “License to Rock”, “KO Child”, “Aces and Eights”, “Stay Awhile”, and “A Girl Like You.” We will be doing a lot of California Shows this summer.
We are planning to go back to Europe for about a month next summer. Our recent two week tour or Ireland, France, and UK, was successful. We have an agent in Dublin.
So there you have it, boys and girls, 3 quick answers from The Mighty Cash Cats’ Michael J. Hopefully, you found these 3 quick questions entertaining and interesting.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.