The Mighty Cash Cats rocked the Lava Sports Lounge in Thousand Oaks, CA on Saturday, Jan. 19 with their always tuneful "Tribute to Johnny Cash and June Carter". The concert began at approximately 9:00 pm. For those not in the know, The Mighty Cash Cats—once 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 band of musicians whose show focuses on six decades of music by the "Man in Black", Cash and June Carter duets, and some songs by Cash contemporaries such as The Carter Family, Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison. 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.
By now regular readers know that this wasn’t just another of numerous live gigs which your crusty chronicler often attends. It was in actuality one of a rather select few performances your near perpetually penned-up penman has thus far ever attended. On this particular evening a freak freeway fiasco foiled your favorite writer’s timely arrival.
By the time yours truly and his sexy sidekick Mary Sparks finally pulled into the parking lot, the air was already filled with the sharp sounds of The Mighty Cash Cats ‘ cover of “Ghost Rider In The Sky”. Sparks grabbed her camera as your rockin’ reporter grabbed his head-protectin’ personality and they were soon seated stage side as the band put its best boot-clad foot forward despite the initially intimate audience there. Ah, but the smaller venue just made their performance all the larger.
Besides, there’s something about Michael Jay’s “Man in Black” and his”clan in black” that just worked in the comparatively dark little sports bar. It just plain made some of the more serious numbers somehow work better. Even the upbeat stuff like the timeless tune “Jackson” went over well there.
Some highlights included a rousing rendition of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe”, Blumette’s rendition of June Carter’s “Juke Box Blues” and the Cash classic “I Walk The Line”. The evening’s entertainment also included Cash Cat covers of classic rock songs like Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, The Pretenders’ “Brass In Pocket” and Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight”.
As always, the inclusion of more contemporary country cuts and classic rock songs while meant to broaden audience appeal is also an apt idea as Cash himself had once covered a disc full of more contemporary cuts. Naturally they brought it back to “the man in black” with their “number one” version of “Cocaine Blues”. (If you missed the joke, then you’ll just have to go see them live.)
Smith’s full-out fondness for Cash’s history and music remains an obvious indication that The Mighty Cash Cats aren’t (ahem) just cashing in on the current cash worthy tribute band trend. In short, while the bar was a bit too cool, the music was once again “hot”.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that's the bottom line.