Cash'd Out is a San Diego-based band that channels Johnny Cash in about as close a manner to the real thing as you can get. Critics have anointed Cash'd Out the "next best thing to Johnny Cash," and the group has won six San Diego Music Awards for Best Tribute Band. In addition, they are the only tribute band endorsed by the official Johnny Cash web page, JohnnyCash.com. In advance of their show at Hill Country BBQ in NYC, frontman Doug Benson took some time to call in from the road to chat.
Cash’d Out has been together for eleven years, how did you get started as a band?
I put an ad in the San Diego Reader and the band came about through that. This is my first band, but everyone else - Kevin Manuel (guitar), George Bernardo (drums), and Stephen Rey (bass) - has been in other bands.
Doing this for over a decade, you must genuinely love and respect the man and his music.
I love Haggard, Willie, and Waylon, but I’m probably most like Johnny which is why I’m drawn to him. I love everything about him.
Do you play solely Johnny Cash songs?
We only do Johnny’s songs whether they’re ones he performed or he wrote. He has thousands of songs, all of which I love, so we have many to choose from on any given night.
Is there one song that the crowd always wants to hear?
They always want to hear “Ring of Fire,” “Folsom Prison Blues” or “Walk The Line.” So many people know his songs that it’s hard to get an obscure one in there, but every now and then we add a different one to the set.
In addition to critics naming Cash’d Out the “next best thing to Johnny Cash” the highlights have been many: W.S. Holland, Cash’s longtime drummer, has sat in with Cash’d Out; frontman, Douglas Benson, has played Johnny’s cherry sunburst Guild guitar; Lou Robin (Cash’s longtime manager) has claimed that if he closed it eyes it was like “going back in time” and Cindy Cash is a big fan.
To have that seal of approval not only from critics but Cash’s family and friends, must be incredibly validating.
Yeah, it’s pretty cool for sure. Cindy has come on stage to sing “Tennessee Flat Top Box” with me and she gave me a necklace with a lock of her dad’s hair in it. She has said several times how she was very thankful for what we are doing and she thought that her dad would be pretty proud.
Your touring schedule is packed, and includes a stop in NYC at Hill Country BBQ this Friday, April 22nd. Have you played NYC before?
New York is one of our favorite cities. We’ve played NYC twice so this will be our 3rd time, and we are going to try to get here more often. The last two times we had a pretty good crowd, and we are really looking forward to being there on Friday. It’s an honor to play Johnny’s music for people and it means a lot to us when people come out to hear us.
Finally, I always like to know – what do you listen to as you drive around from show to show?
I listen to a lot of different things. Just a minute ago, I was listening to a Tom Clancy book. But I also like to listen to Dale Watson, Merle, Johnny, and Willie and also a lot of 80’s music like The Smiths, The Cure and Love and Rockets. I change it up quite a bit.
Watch them perform "Ghost Riders In The Sky" here
When: Friday, April 22nd
Time: 11:00 PM
Where: Hill Country BBQ NY - 30 W. 26th St. New York, NY