INTERVIEW: Tommy Cash SHADES OF BLACK
Tommy Cash has a name that is easily recognized, one that makes ears perk up, but his voice is his own. He is the younger brother of country music legend Johnny Cash. With a new tribute album on the shelves we took time to chat about the project and the lifetime career of Tommy Cash.
Bev: Please tell me a little bit about the new project you have out and how it is going for you?
Tommy: The new album is called Fade To Black. There are some songs on the album that I wrote, duets with 4 different people, a duet with George Jones on the opening cut, a song I co-wrote with Jimmy Pepper 40 years ago called “Some Kind of a Woman” and also the first song that I ever wrote is on the album, “The Rambling Kind”. I wrote that song in 1964 and never recorded it myself. Also there are songs that I did in tribute to my brother, Johnny Cash and those songs are “Ring of Fire” and “Folsom Prison Blues” along with a couple of others. I’m really proud of this album.
Bev: Is the entire CD a tribute? Or are just a couple of songs a tribute.
Tommy: No the whole album is not a tribute. I have a tribute album that I recorded about 3 three years ago called, A Musical Tribute to my brother Johnny Cash, but there are some songs on this album that we did as a tribute to him. This album is some of my best work.
Bev: How long have you been in the music business?
Tommy: I started recording and singing professionally in January of 1965; that’s about 44 years.
Bev: Any interesting stories that go along with these songs on this album?
Tommy: I can’t think of any outstanding stories, but songs I’ve always wanted to record like “Skip Rope” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” is a song I’ve always loved. I can’t think of any stories other than going back 40 years to a song I first wrote was exciting for me and we’ve got a great sound on the lead guitar and a great performance.
Bev: Are any of the other siblings involved in this project or is it entirely you?
Tommy: My sister Joanne sings a duet with me on “Wings of a Dove”. She is a great gospel singer and my son Mark does a duet with me on “I Walk the Line”. Marty Stewart does a duet with me on a remake of an old hit called “Six White Horses”.
Bev: I know you were in the Army and you did some stuff with American Forces Radio Network. Are there any patriotic songs on the album?
Tommy: There is one. I was with AFN when I was in the US army at headquarters stationed in Frankfurt. I used to do a show in the afternoon called, “The Stick Buddy Jamboree” and it was all country music; we had bands from all over Europe.
Bev: Who are some the other artists that contributed to this CD?
Tommy: George Jones, Marty Stewart, my son Mark Cash and my sister Joanne Cash and there are about 8 or ten songs I do by myself.
Bev: Do you have a favorite on this CD?
Tommy: I’m really partial to “The Rambling Kind” the first song I ever wrote. I think it really came out great and the one I did with George Jones because he really loved the song and said he’d love to sing the chorus’. I’m really proud of that song as well.
Bev: How long has it been between projects?
Tommy: I recorded a tribute album to my brother in 2004 and that is without a doubt my best work ever in recording. The engineer who did that album with me got a great sound on my voice and the songs came out great. I guess I always do a CD about every two or three years.
Bev: Have you done work with George Jones or Marty Stuart before?
Tommy: George Jones did a duet with me on an album I had off of Playback Records in 1990. He did a song that was called, “Thoughts on the Flag” and the video still plays on CMT during patriotic times like, Veterans Day or the 4th of July. I worked with Marty Stewart on a couple of things and I’ve done a lot of duets with many people in the music business over the years. People have always been very kind and have been very gracious to me and I really appreciate that.
Bev: What are you doing to promote your new project?
Tommy: Well Inlight records are promoting the CD. So anyone can go to Inlightrecords.com to order the CD and to learn more about the label itself, the artists they are signing and who will be on the label.
Bev: Are you using the online social networks like myspace, facebook, twitter etc.?
Tommy: Yes, my secretary runs that for me and does a great job. I’m still into the old fashioned things and the way of doing things. The internet is a great tool and a Godsend. It really is the information highway. I get E-mails from people from all over the world, as I’m sure all the country music artists do as well.
Bev: What’s one of the most cherished, or memorable Emails or letters you have gotten that has really touched you?
Tommy: You know that’s hard to choose because I get Emails all the time from people all over the world so it’s hard to just pick one.
Bev: Anything else you wanted to mention about the album or the project?
Tommy: Well I’m still touring and I tour about 60 days a year and that’s all about I want to work the road and as long as I am healthy and I still feel like I can do a good show I’m going to continue to sing and travel and do shows. I’ve probably done over a thousand shows in the last 44 years and I’ve loved every one of them.
Bev: Do you prefer a smaller more intimate venue? Or do you prefer to play really large ones?
Tommy: I love working in the smaller ones, or theatres, but I just love it all. I get tired sometimes of traveling, but when I walk out on stage then I forget about all the hardships about getting there or getting back home.
Bev: Is there any artists out there that you haven’t worked with that you’d really like to work with?
Tommy: I would love to work with Tim McGraw and Alan Jackson. There are a lot of artists that I’d love to work with but these big artists don’t need opening acts anymore, but I’d love to work with some of them yes.
Bev: When you do perform on stage do you have any ritual that you do before you go out?
Tommy: No I’d like to have some time by myself, because people talk to you right up to you going out on stage. I like the moment to just clear my mind. I just do voice exercises about 10-12 minuets before going out on stage. I like to be by myself just a few minuets before I go out.
Bev: As far as advice that you have received is there anything that you would pass on to a new artist if they were to ask you for advice?
Tommy: Don’t give up; don’t ever give up keep on trying until you get your foot in the door. It’s a tough business and it’s tough to break in. I know a lot of talented people that have come to Nashville and they didn’t make it. If you do come to Nashville try to sing; play at places that you can be seen by the writers or the producers. Always try to perform whenever you get a chance. If you keep trying and keep pushing then someone will help you get in the door.
Bev: Tommy I really appreciate this time of getting to know you and I hope I get a chance to meet up again soon and see you perform.
Tommy: Well thank you Bev, and I would love for you to come to one of my shows. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.
For more information on Tommy Cash visit http://www.tommycash.com/ or www.myspace.com/thetommycashshow.