The Trolley Center amphitheater and surrounding mall were filled to overflowing on Thursday, July 23, as the Johnny Cash tribute band Cash’d Out brought the music of the Man in Black to the Santee Summer Concert Series. This was easily the largest crowd I have seen so far this summer, and everyone appeared to have a good time. The only dark cloud was the number of people who seemed to feel the rule about not saving spots did not apply to them. But I will address them in another post.
Cash’d Out formed in 2004, started playing in 2005, and has since become a top draw around the Southwest region. Last year the group was voted Best Cover or Tribute Band at the 18th annual San Diego Music Awards. Not bad for a band that got its start through an advertisement in The Reader. That was how founders Douglas Benson and Kevin Manuel got together, later adding stand-up bass player Sean Glithero and drummer Andy Robillard to round out the quartet. About a year ago Alabama native Juli Crocket joined the men to sing the June Carter parts and play off against Douglas Benson’s Johnny Cash persona.
Admittedly, I am not a huge Johnny Cash fan – at least not compared to my daughter (who probably knows all the lines from Walk the Lineby heart) – but I do know several of his songs and some of his life story, and can certainly appreciate a spot-on group like Cash’d Out. Particularly fun to watch is the give-and-take between Benson and Crockett. I spoke to Juli Crockett after the concert, and she admitted that it took her a little time to feel comfortable enough to “stand up” to Benson, but now feels quite up to giving it back to him the way June Carter did to Johnny Cash.
Douglas G. Benson (as he is billed on the band’s website) got the idea of starting up a Johnny Cash tribute band because he “had the voice” – but he had to work on his guitar skills first. We can all be very glad that he paid his dues on the “guit-fiddle” to reach the level he is at now. As for the voice – no question on that.
Kevin Manuel, the “Luther Perkins” of the group, is a San Diego boy who grew up on the music of Johnny Cash. It was his answering of Benson’s ad in The Reader that led to the founding of Cash’d Out. Manuel provides the “guit-box” lead on songs.
Sean Glithero is another San Diego native in the group. He has been playing bass in bands around the area for the last two decades, about half of that time with Manuel. Glithero provides the “boom-boom” signature that Marshall Grant played with the Tennessee Three.
The fourth member of the group, Andy Robillard, keeps the beat going the way W.S. Holland did for the original Cash group.
Juli Crockett, who also sings with a group called Evangenitals, carries the June Carter parts very well and adds that touch of “Down South” to a decidedly So-Cal group of musicians.
The fun kicked off early with a warm up set by Shiloh Cook from Singing Solo, a program for talented young singers.
Miss Santee, Sierra Billock, and Miss Santee Teen, Nicole Ehlke, were on hand as MCs.
On several songs, Glithero had a talented young apprentice working with him.
The concert also featured an impromptu birthday serenade for a young fan.
Not much dancing this week – too many people and very little open space.
Next week, July 30, the tributes continue when the Screamin’ Primas bring the music of Louis Prima to the Summer Concert Series.