Live review: Cash Bash VI

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Cash Bash VI

Puckett's Farm Equipment

April 3-4, 2009

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The Deal: Over the course of two nights, ten bands pay tribute to The Man in Black by performing at least two Johnny Cash cover songs during their sets.

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The Good: From the 13-foot-tall Stratocaster in the parking lot to the PBR and swing dancing, Cash Bash VI had a little bit of everything. Kitty King and the Whistlin' Skulls kicked off the weekend with it's own brand of rockabilly and country. The group did its own take on "House of the Rising Sun" before kicking off a Cash cover of "Folsom Prison" that had the crowd singing along. Actually, the crowd sung along to plenty of songs — covers and originals all night long.

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Wink Keziah & Delux Motel got things going on the rowdy end of the spectrum with its honky tonk set including some of the more obscure Cash covers of the weekend, including "Cotton Fields."

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Tommy Ray and the Ray Guns hit the stage with its '50s style and included a cover of Social Distortion's "Ball and Chain" along with Cash's "Ring of Fire" and "Delia's Gone."

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Asheville's Mad Tea Party can rock the hell out of a ukulele and covered "Jackson" during its set.

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Friday was topped off with a high-energy performance by Truckstop Preachers. The band was joined by Jason of the Loose Lugnuts on harmonica during one of its songs, but it was clearly singer Nathan Palmer who ran around the stage holding up a massive Johnny Cash head during the covers, or sometimes found the time to throw a deer head over his own. The band played "Cry Cry Cry" and "Get Rhythm" during its set.

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Saturday night kicked off with Greensboro's The Tremors who pulled out a cover of Cash's "Wreck of the Old 97."

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The Straight 8's drummer Bernie Fox easily gets the award for most entertaining drummer of the night as he screamed, jumped and ran around stage throughout the band's set. He also found time to drum away on the bass during one of the songs. The band did its own version of "Cry Cry Cry."

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The Bo-Stevens of Winston-Salem are the only band that have performed at every Cash Bash and it's easy to see why. They've got the Cash covers down to a science. The male and female vocals were easily covered on "Jackson" and a number of people jumped on stage to help out with the vocals of "Ring of Fire" including Hick'ry Hawkins, Tommy Ray, Wink Keziah, while the Ray Guns' Badger jumped on the bass.

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Atlanta's Rocket 350 had one of the most energetic bass players as he jumped around, stood on his bass, got down the ground and held it over his head with nonstop energy througout the band's set.

Lords of the Highway from Ohio closed out the two-night event with its own high-energy set.

Overall, the nights were a celebration of Cash's music by bands that all have an obvious Cash influence in their styles — honky tonk, rockabilly, country, '50s-style rock. It's a must-see event every year and mentions were made of a "Cash Bash VII" next year.

The Bad: Great music, great atmosphere, great people. Maybe the only "complaint" is that it's exhausting.

The Verdict: Lots of credit to the bassist known as Badger who goes through a hell of a lot of effort over a period of roughly six or seven months to put all of this together each year and to Gary Puckett who busts his ass behind the bar to make sure everyone's happy and no one is thirsty. I'm glad I made it out for both nights as the bands are each unique and talented enough to keep everyone entertained for more than 10 hours. See you there next year!

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