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Crooner channels Johnny Cash with Cash Prophets

By: Laura Newell, Folsom Lake Entertainer
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By Laura Newell Folsom Lake Entertainer The legendary style of Johnny Cash and the Folsom Prison Blues come to life with the father and sons trio, the Cash Prophets. Bobby Dickson, of Shingle Springs, works in Folsom and considers the town his musical home. His band, Cash Prophets, originated in 2005 and is a tribute to early Johnny Cash. ?Johnny is my savior because he went through life struggling and striving, and always kept a firm belief in God,? Dickson said. ?He really walked on both sides between good and bad, and so have I.? Dickson said he struggled with drugs from a young age, but gave them all up after devoting his life to music at the age of 25. He said music literally saved his life. Today, he performs in two bands located in different areas in California, but says the Cash Prophets holds a special place for him because he gets to perform with his two sons. His son and bass player Nate, 24, lives in Pilot Hill, and his son Bobby Jr., 26, of Shingle Springs, plays the guitar. Nate is self taught but studied music in school. He can read music, Dickson said. Bobby Jr., also self-taught, can play by ear. He can listen to a song, Dickson said, and start playing. ?I have the soul of a musician and my sons have the brains of musicians,? Dickson said. ?We were always a close family. We?ve always been hand in hand.? The band has played locally at FLB Sports Bar and Casino and at Folsom Prison. They have also performed the outstretch of California, from LA to Northern California. On June 15, the band will have the ultimate Cash moment, and perform inside the prison. ?That is the best feeling I could ever have as a musician,? Dickson said. ?To play where Johnny Cash played and walk where Johnny walked, it is the best feeling. I know over 200 musicians who would sell their souls to do this.? He said what separates his band from other Johnny Cash tribute bands, is he doesn?t try to become Cash. He said he just respects Cash. ?I sing from my soul, I?m not trying to be Johnny in any way,? Dickson said. ?We do this because it?s fun and we respect his style. All do respect to the man in black.? He said when imagining his sound, just think ?Sun Record 1954.? ?We play our own original music in a Cash style,? Dickson said. Many locals also appreciate the band?s original sound. ?I?ve been a Johnny Cash fan since I was a kid and they are by far the closest to the real thing that I?ve ever seen,? said Aaron Ralls, owner of Lucky?s Barbershop in Folsom. ?It?s not a show to be missed. He plays everywhere and to have him in our own backyard is a blessing.? Michael Perry, correctional sergeant with the California Department of Corrections, said the Cash Prophets take the Cash sound to a traditional level. ?I saw them play about three years ago at a local Sacramento venue because I?m a huge Johnny Cash fan,? Perry said. ?I grew up listening to Johnny Cash and went in with an open mind to listen to their tribute band.? After the first song, Perry said he was blown away by their authentic sound. ?I felt like I had been transported back to the 1950s and I was listening to Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two. They gave me goose bumps with their style, clothing and flare.? After befriending the band members, Perry said he began regularly seeing their shows. He also helped manage the band for a while to help them get more exposure. ?Their sound never got old,? Perry said. ?They are just true musicians.? Dickson said still the highlight of his musical career was when he had the opportunity to perform for Cash?s daughter Cindy Cash. ?It was incredible because of her reaction,? Dickson said. ?She said, ?I?ve never heard anybody play my daddy?s music like you do.? It was the best thing I ever heard. I could have died right there at that point.? He said the band is always looking to give back to their community with shows at many locations including schools, retirement homes, benefit concerts, bars and nightclubs and restaurants. ?I?ve never felt as good as I do when I play in this band,? Dickson said. ?We are the gospel according to Johnny Cash ? we are the Cash Prophets.? For more information on the band, e-mail cash_prophets@yahoo.com or call (916) 627-6666.