We are not a "Tribute Band". Not in the currently fashionable sense, that is. When this band began, there was an immediate and conscious decision to abstain from playing characters or doing impersonations. Lots of bands are doing that...some of them do it very well. Of course, we do wear black. Some things are sacred.
We decided to let the music itself be the tribute...to the man who originally performed the songs, and to those who need to hear these songs once more...or for the very first time. We feel that the music is alive and evolving. We have no interest in presenting our audience with an antique snapshot of a simpler time.
We want to give our listeners something that is breathing, feeling, sweating, being, living...NOW. The Cash stream is active and flowing...a big river that we're lucky enough to go fishing in. Every now and then, we catch a monster! We'll keep going as long as people are hungry for these songs. We might even sneak in a few of our own for dessert!
Johnny Cash was a singular human phenomenon...one that can never be truly emulated. Everybody knows that. The biggest tribute we can give Johnny is to bring his music to anyone who needs it, the best we can play it. We hope you like it ~ WB&G
It's difficult to draw the line at just where and when a bunch of guys becomes a band. Perhaps it was atop that flatbed truck in 103-degree heat in the sun-soaked yards of Norco State Prison. No one really knows for sure. In the end, it's the spirit of it all that matters. That's why these cats recorded the songs you hear -LIVE- with John Philip Shenale engineering (Tori Amos, Willy Deville, Tracy Chapman.)
Corby had traveled the world variously, spreading gospels of many kinds far and wide. Along the way, he performed at California's Norco State Prison, working with a few talented musical inmates there. He ran down the rudiments of several Johnny Cash songs with “the guys” and they played a set for the prison population. His singing style and manner had an immediate impact on the inmates and Norco’s warden. This was the catalyst that led Corby to seek out co-conspirators. It was a thought but not yet a band.
Corby went forward with his fevered vision, crossing paths and trajectories in apparent randomness. He then met guitarist Jim Vitale, who's story lay in the various strains of blues and country music that he wrapped up in some way or another as only he could manage. They realized that the music of Johnny Cash was a common thread that wove through their lives and music. A bottle and an afternoon later, and Corby’s original thought had become more but not yet a band.
Together, Corby and Jimmy sang and played with gusto as they ripped into Cash’s catalogue. Word somehow got around to Alex Carlisle through a friend of a friend, as these things always seem to. Carlisle’s intuitive playing was informed by many different styles. And yet he’s always come back to the simple and true. He threw the most basic of drum kits together and fell in to propel that D-N-A-of-rock-n-roll train beat...until he broke his ankle one boisterous night. Even with a long recovery ahead for Alex, Corby and Jimmy knew to their bones the wait would be worthwhile. This three-some felt The Man in Black cast quite a shadow over how they played together. All in all this was a lot and still not yet a band.
Mike Salazar heard the same train’s call. It was a casual conversation by chance that led him to happen by and play with the others. A journeyman comfortable in rock-n-roll, blues, soul and the same long shadows of John R. Cash’s music that’s all at once primitive and elegant, Mike knew how to make only a few choice notes do everything that a song needed. Once on board, Mike’s Fender bass locked those songs down like spikes through a rail tie and the train ran like a ghost as it careened down long stretches and hugged the rails around every corner.
These four fire up and play a music that’s familiar while they take it someplace only they can get to with it. It’s a music that’s simple but not easy, manic and centered, derivative and yet new. They keep the train moving and don’t ask questions as they move along. Somewhere on this trip they all crossed a line together. No one knows or cares just where that was.
This group gets that train to wind through everywhere from Norco and San Quentin prisons and to all points beyond. As they move along they’ll add their own songs and stories when they lay down new tracks of their own...