Dancing My Name
'Dancing My Name' has received a readers choice award from Kweevak Music Magazine for being one of the top 35 Music Projects for 2005. 'Michael Thomas Cash . . .doesn't need a lot of 'bells and whistles' to pull off his compositions. He goes back to the roots of country and blue grass and delves into the heart of what makes country music so infectious. When listening to Cash's songs one would think that he's a one-man show, but his band is so beautifully composed that it sounds like one fluid movement. . . . . Michael Thomas Cash doesn't need complicated rhythms or driving lyrics to get his point across. The beauty of artists like Cash is their passion for music and understanding of life's lessons. The purity of their composure breathes life back into the contemporary music discourse, with a hint of good old-fashioned melancholy and raw guitar playing.' - Northeast In Tune Magazine Michael Thomas Cash showed up in the Washington DC metro area in 1984 and began making the rounds of the open mics playing covers. He quickly became popular and after hanging out at Gallagher's Pub and becoming inspired by the likes of Mary Chapin Carpenter and John Jennings, he honed his vocal and guitar playing skills until he developed the chops to get hired around town for solo, duo, and trio gigs. Slowly he began to write and perform his own songs. After a family tragedy he hooked up with Ricky Wilkins, co-owner of The Hungry Dog Café. Michael again had a venue to hang out at and hone his skills. Soon, Ricky and others encouraged him to make a CD resulting in the debut 'Dancing My Name'. Michael's Production Notes: I ran into Ricky Wilkins in the bar in the basement of The Mill in Edinburg, VA not long after I moved to the Shenandoah Valley in 1986. He was playing piano and singing tunes and after some talk invited me to sit in with him when I could. I took him up on it and found the first piano player that I liked playing with. We kept running into each other over the years and I'd sit in on occasion and do some of my tunes. One night Ricky said we had to do a record together. Later, when Ricky and Carol Bush opened The Hungry Dog Café and DelWray Studio in Strasburg, VA, he told me that he wanted to produce my first record. Not having done it before and being very concerned about how much it would cost, since I did not anticipate a recording contract from anyone, I hesitated a while. I should not have. When I did decide to start the recording sessions, I was mortified to find they had invented such a thing as 'click track.' For those of you who do not know, a 'click track' is there to force you to keep time. For a mostly solo guitar player, who rarely played with a drummer, this is a cruel discovery. As Ricky later said, the 'click is unforgiving and always waiting on you, to (mess) up.' Actually Ricky wouldn't say 'mess' but you get the message. And mess up I did. Over and over, and Ricky was always patient and ready for another take. At first, it took a long time to get a good take of just my guitar track on a song. Then one day, the dam broke and we laid down six or seven songs with both guitar and vocals, and it became fun. Of course Ricky's encouragement and patience and guidance helped immensely. But all I had were some songs with just me and the guitar. Ricky and all of the musicians on this record added layers of color and depth that I never imagined; but as I heard them lay their gifts onto these songs, I finally began to believe that we would have a record that was honest in it's presentation of the songs and perhaps moving and fun. One of my professors in Divinity School told me that one must not write a book unless one has to do so. The songs I wrote here had to be written. The covers I chose mostly because they were meaningful to me. One I chose because it was just a lot of fun to do. 'She' was written several years ago after I ran into this couple singing and dancing on a street corner in DC. I was mesmerized by their energy and could see that she was blind, but didn't know that he was deaf until someone told me. I became even more enchanted with them and had to write the song. I only encountered them once, and had to make up the story. I hope they don't mind. Ricky, Doug Arthur, Doyle Schaeffer, Ed Reedy and various musicians played this song over and over at the Hungry Dog Café in Strasburg, VA until we got it down. I particularly like Ricky's piano playing on this song. 'Yesterday Is Not Forgotten' is an effort to capture the emotions of love and leaving and still loving. Anita Casacuberta plays harmonica on this and though she doesn't have a lot of notes, the ones she chooses and her timing just about makes me cry. Circle Driveway, by Joe Allen, broke my heart the first time I heard it sung in a bar in Asheville, NC. Since I was divorced and could identify with not wanting 'the kids to see me cry,' I learned it immediately and sing it every time I get a chance. Anita's harmonica is all this tune needed to fill out the palette. 'Just The Same' was written about meeting Mary Chapin Carpenter. I met her when we were both playing bars in DC, though you could tell she was trying to get out of them, and I was just trying to have an outlet from my day job. As you know she succeeded, and I'm still pursuing the outlet. Needless to say, her music blew me away. We became fast friends and her first song on her first record was at one time entitled 'Michael's Song.' I still have the government job, the Gibson, and the pick up truck, but I don't hang out late at night in the bars much anymore. I had only played this song in public a few times, and never with a band; so to hear Paul Bell, Ricky, and Ed come in on this tune just amazed me. These guys are pros. 'Back Road Going Slow' needs no explanation, with the sometimes exception of the second verse. When I was writing this song an old Elvis Presley movie, 'Girls! Girls! Girls!' was playing on the TV; and just as Elvis was about to capture the heart of Ann Margaret, he had to leave and try to win a car race. I couldn't understand why he didn't stay and woo Ann Margaret. I figured his heart was blind, too! Anita's harmonica work on here is superbly tasteful! I chose to cover 'King of the Road' because I've always loved it, and it was Ricky's favorite song and I loved the way he played the piano on it. I had no idea that he and Paul Bell on electric guitar would synch so well. Then Capt. Ryan Wojtankowski wanted to sing on it, too. I gave him a recording of just me and my guitar. He thought that was all there was going to be and created voice instrumentation and playful musical dialogue that we all fell in love with and chose to keep. Listen carefully, you might hear new stuff each time. 'His Very Last Day' was written in the midst of a catharsis that had to happen in order for me to let go of the emotions I had surrounding my relationship with my step father. Needless to say, it was somewhat rocky, but as Ricky said, 'Hell, you got a song out of it.' I love the back porch feel of this tune, with Mandy and Ricky singing harmony, Ricky's accordion and bass, and Ed Reedy on the snare joining in. I wanted my dear friend Gary Greene to add a high harmony to this song, but alas our schedules did not match up. Next time, Gary. 'Simple Song' by Lyle Lovett has always been an intriguing and powerful song for me. Given the political situation in this country over the last four years or so, it became even more powerful and allowed me to express in song some of what I have been feeling. I'm not even sure why Lyle wrote it, but for me it is both political and personal and a bit foreboding. I chose to put the first verse last as just a moment of inspiration in the studio the day we were cutting it. Hopefully, Lyle will forgive me. When doing it live, I usually don't to that, though sometimes I repeat the first verse to close out the song because it is so haunting. 'Good Ole Boys Like Me' by Bob McDill is one of the best songs I've ever heard. I made it my signature song for just about every gig I played during the last few decades. And lots of times if I forgot to play it, someone would request it. So here it is. Ricky's keyboards and Paul's moaning electric guitar are just amazing on this tune. 'Sometimes Lover' by my friend Kevin Jones, is one of the cleverest songs I've ever heard. I fell in love with it the first time I heard Kevin sing it and asked him if I could put it on my first record. He agreed, 'cause I don't think his wife, Marsha, was going to let him put it on any of his records. Paul's dobro adds intriguing undertones. 'Wakin' Up Mornin' Blues' is self evident. I had been trying to write a blues tune with that chord progression switching back and forth like it does for years, and one night out it came. Thank the music gods. I like the interplay between the Anita, Paul, and Ricky on here. This is going to be fun to play live every time all of us can get back together. 'Wash Away Your Pain' was triggered by running into an older neighbor of mine on the mountain where I live, and then became about all of the old men in my life who have intrigued me, mentored me, and offered me their wisdom. It's also a tribute to the river I live on at the base of Three Top Mountain in the Shenandoah Valley. The North Fork of the Shenandoah River is beautiful, and up until this year was one of the best smallmouth bass fishing rivers anywhere. I hope we can convince the residents of this valley to take care of her, and not just use her, 'cause she deserves as much from us. Paul's guitar work on here gave this song just what it had needed all along. 'Dancing My Name' is just a piece of art that had to happen. Thanks to Ricky and Paul it works. It's not a fully matured song. It doesn't really resolve itself . . . just like this record had to happen in response to a promise I made to my son who died too early for his life to resolve itself . . . like a recurring vision or dream that makes no sense, but damned if it don't get inside your head and keep you up nights.