By Dawn Aerts
Iron County Today
David Wilcox, a.k.a. Dave Cash, isn’t your typical guitar-player. His music is rooted in the songs of the 60’s when entertainers like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and the golden age of radio and records changed his life — from one of conflict and abuse to a person that wears a guitar on his shoulder and finds a prayer in his heart.
“I could never have survived, moved on or overcome much of the past,” said Cash of memories of his parent’s split-up, moves across country and the checkered times he describes as dark. “Without music or my faith, I wouldn’t be here, or be the musician I’ve become.”
Cash dresses in black for his low and lofty renditions of the legends he hopes to resemble, with a little guitar that dangles from around his neck. “For me, it’s about keeping that music and the legends alive,” said Cash of his songs. “Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always liked the attention, but it’s also about connecting with an audience as music will do.”
While Cash grew up in California and Nevada, he spent some of those years in cities like Chicago and Las Vegas. There were years in Kanarraville and Gunnison before he settled down in Reno, Nevada., a variety of worlds. “My Mom wasn’t prepared for raising children, the domestic abuse, divorce and trying to find a good husband meant [so] we moved quite a bit.”
But it was music, old songs on the radio, the glamor of stars like Presley and the Highway Boys that led him down the road. “I made my first appearance in costume back in Chicago for a Rhinestone Cowboy competition. Years later, I remember my Mom spending hours sewing on the sequins for a junior high school assembly in Cedar City at a ‘Hound Dog contest.’
‘So I didn’t do homework, I wanted to chase girls.’
While Cash admits that education was never part of the goal (“I didn’t do homework—I wanted to chase girls”), he completed high school despite the challenge and address change. In those years, he listened to the radio, practiced on the guitar, and sang his heart out in the 1980s as a busboy in Las Vegas.
“My first song called ‘Pray’ was composed in one of the darkest times of my life — as I came to reflect on the pain and abuse my Mom and I had gone through,” said Cash. “So this music came from kind of painful situations, back in the times we loved country music and people still got down on their knees to pray.”
He had gigs in Las Vegas, and memorable nights as a bus boy when he would get on stage at the Wagon Wheel just to entertain. “It wasn’t that much for the money but for the experience to play. I found that real entertainers need to have a certain flow to their music, and that the attention span of an audience is short, so you have to catch them.”
It was his hope in faith and music that Cash said kept him going through the hard years.
For Cash, playing the nylon-string guitar was an escape to a more exciting and fulfilling world. His real Dad had an “incredible voice” and was someone who supported his musical talent despite struggle and a downfall with alcohol. “I started to play the guitar, self-taught at the age of 15, and I would sing along with the radio all the time,” said Cash of the journey.
He took vocal lessons for a time, after his first marriage in Vegas. “I had a gig back then at Gianni Russo’s on State Street in Vegas where the likes of Sinatra and Michael Jackson had performed. In the 1980s it was a happening place,” said Cash of his rendering of songs like, New York, New York and Mack-the-Knife. “But the ‘most dear’ to my heart was the Christian music I listened to on SOS, Las Vegas or KLOVE Radio.”
Over the years, Cash performed the recordings made famous by Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings. But his aspiration was always to sing in church and connect his audience with a higher power. “When I sing I don’t sound exactly like any one of those, but I use my own style, rhythm and tone.”
His mostly baritone, slightly tenor voice echoes through each performance.
In 2010, Cash decided to settle in St. George with his wife, Kay, and said he has gone from a ‘so-so guitar player’ to being a more authentic entertainer. “Jeff Eastwood, a one-time lead guitar player, told me to get rid of the music stand and music sheets and find the discipline and heart of a professional.”
Before his renditions of Willie Nelson’s ‘Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,’ or ‘A Boy Named Sue’ Cash confesses he is a man who has worn a lot of hats and traveled down difficult roads.
In St. George, you will still find him dressed in black, toting an acoustic guitar and sound system to outdoor concerts, private parties, to wedding ceremonies or to assisted living centers, like Sterling Court and others. With his guitar, he might share a story about the first time he jumped onto a stage in Las Vegas, or the Sundays he served as a worship leader for Centerville Baptist Church.
“I always let the audience know that my hope rests in faith,” said Cash of the past. “It’s not to put on a façade, but to reach out to the audience and to say — Yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.” Music is the mission that Cash holds onto.
“I think the devil tried to take it all away from me,” said Cash of lost years. “But I got it back — a stability, the opportunity to play and I’m so grateful for that life.”
If you want to follow Cash, see Facebook/2ndmaninblack or see You Tube at channel David Wilcox a.k.a. Dave Cash or to book a gig, davesmusic2013@gmail.
Caption: Dave Cash performs the music of legends like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, John Denver and The Highwayman with a mix of 1960s and ‘70s classics that pay tribute to his own Christian faith.