By Andru Bell
Sol Collective’s weekly open mic, Microphone Mondays, was recently blessed to have one of the city’s veterans grace our stage. Doug Cash stopped by to deliver some of patented bluesy-funk-soul to the most open mic in the city. After tearing the spot down, he and I had a chance to catch up about the music, the business, and the direction it’s headed.
Sol: Where did you get your start in music?
DC: From my Dad’s record collection. Ellington, Basie, Three Sounds, Ramsey Lewis, Gloria Lynne, Billie Holiday, Big Joe Turner, Lambert Hendricks and Ross. Then I saw Sly & The Family Stone at the Memorial Auditorium when I was a kid and decided that’s what I’m going to do! I borrowed a neighbor’s guitar when I was 15 and pretty much started writing songs before I was even able to play. My best friend, Jeff Cooper, had a Silvertone from Sears and he was writing a song a day so I had to try to keep up
Sol: How long have you been on stage?
DC: My first gig was with Funk fusion band Technical Force at The Playboy Club in Los Angeles in 1980. It was basically a talent show they had once a week. Promoter Don Podler got us the gig while he was working with us to get a developement deal.We were too loud and told to turn down multiple times by the MC. Some over the hill bimbo who later heckled Richard Pryor in the Joe Joe Dancer film. From there we booked ourselves into Hop Sihngs, Ice House, Fandangos, the Barn at UCR.
Sol: That’s been how many years? And you still haven’t learned to turn it down huh?
DC: Yeah, but back in those days I could barely carry a tune as a back up vocalist/bassist. I was lucky to work with our lead vocalist, Jim Bates, in learning proper breathing techniques. He told me to stop singing through my nose and to use my gut. It wasn’t until my late 20s that actually started to develop some range and years after that until I could control it.
Sol: So other than playing gigs, you’re very involved in the music industry. You run your own label?
DC: Yes, after I left Subgroove Records back in the 90’s my ex-wife and I started our own web design business( Highfill-Pryor Web Design ), a college radio distributorship ( UP & COMING ) and my indie label SWRecords.net which became Pryor 2 What ? Records. I simply signed a few friends up on MP3 and cdbaby because they were too lazy to do it themselves. There are no contracts between us and most of these people don’t even play music anymore and have no interest in the indie industry.Sadly, that theme has been consistant over the decades. Very talented musicians who just don’t want to know about the music business.It’s not like the old days when I was a kid. Literally pounding the pavement in L.A. try to get a deal.Now it’s all done over the net.Tons of oppurtunities for artists re: publishing, distribution, liscensing, etc. Gigs are nice, but the money is in the publishing.That’s your 401k.Hey I’m barely getting by, but I’ve never been more excited about being in the music biz as a label owner.
Sol: So what advice would you give to young artists about the industry?
DC: Learn to use the studio like an instrument. Listen to the production values of Billy Taylor from Mowtown. That stuff is 50 yrs old and still kicks all of the ass. Make sure your product sounds as professional as possible. Join CDBaby and Music X Ray, but be sure you are ready. If you’re still in the beginning stages of your songwriting, bounce your ideas off other musicians. Once you’re ready to present yourself as a viable entity be sure to trademark your name and the name of your label if you’re the owner. Use Legalzoom.
Sol: Where can folks find your music? Are you playing anywhere around that folks should know about?
DC: For everything Doug Cash go to dougcashmusic.com. My next gig is March 8th Thursday 830pm
Naked Lounge 1111 H st Sacramento,Ca
5 Dollar cover
w/ Justin Davis & Ken Koenig
Sol: close curtain. end interview. Thank you so much. That’s going to work perfectly. Holler.
DC: Sho you right !
Sol: Okay. NOW end interview.
For more music business tips from Sac’s Funky Blues vet, check out Doug’s phone interview with Independent Music & Media.