Featured Artist on Sound of Lexington
January 28, 2018
Picture of Kentucky Comedian and Actor Billy Crank, Owner of Sound of Lexington Carolyn Burnette and Featured Artist Shefton Kash.
As far as charisma, modesty and star presence go, Shefton Kash emits a persona that takes over a room. Though not quiet a bright-eyed trendsetter or a hip-shaking, matinee idol, Kash exhibits a modest and respectful, back-home demeanor mindful of – no, not the 1950’s young John Cash – but of that much ballyhooed 1950’s crooner – Elvis Presley. I say that mainly because Elvis, especially in the movies, had that All-American good-guy persona that more closely approximates Shefton Kash’s hard working, family-first personality – at least when compared to the sharp-edged and hard-shelled Johnny Cash. Whereas Elvis was in the more regular (and-generally-perceived-as) blue-collar Army; Cash, on the other hand, served in the less-routine Air Force (not that this means Cash should be considered aristocratic, of course). Elvis was a leading-male protagonist in the movies; whereas Cash had that rebellious, from the wrong side of the tracks edge to him. Early on. Elvis was often managed into crooning gospel-ly paradigms whose measure of choir-boy solemnities somehow seems to have presaged all of the gyrating and raciness which followed. Comparatively. Johnny’s more traditional country songs were, by sense and subject, socially diffident and challenging (i.e. Folsom City Blues) and they were almost always scribed by no other than Johnny, himself. Of course, Shefton Kash’s music is traditionally country, at least compared to the reiterated African-American gospel blues that were recast through Elvis. So eliminating the consideration of persona, Shefton Kash – by way of his chosen musical genre (country western) – more closely resembles the Kash with a C, than Elvis (even as the songs on Kash’s debut CD were each written by others.) I know it’s a bit much to compare an up and coming – and not yet intergalactically famous – singer-songwriter to truly legendary Elvis and Johnny, but Kash – with his country demeanor and his Gypsy eyes – actually pervades qualities which are quite similar. As a singer / songwriter Kash possesses an exquisitely toned voice (with just the right touch of a baritone presence) and is quite true to his Southern roots; he carries himself with an adroit modesty even as he emits a reticent, over the top musical competency which is quite evident when he does his thing; and, like Presley and Cash, he is focused in on his craft even as he’s into other things. And into other things, Shefton Kash is – even as he maintains his ascendance as a country western gentleman and jack-of-all-trades star. A gentlemen and a star – asides from his still necessarily amateur status as a moonlighter – that’s exactly what Kash appears to be within his person. I can clearly envision him being introduced at a Country Western Awards show – “now to present the ‘most polished country baritone,’ Mr. Shefton Kash!” – the way they say “now here’s Mr. Clint Black!” or “Mr. Whomever.” Because, as a professional performer and as a man, Shefton Kash – he of slick black suits and barrister-white shirts, deserves his respect – if simply for his accomplishments – musical and otherwise.
His album, “Hank’s Whiskey,” which Kash acknowledges as “a lifetime achievement,” puts him in a place where he’s somewhat on par with Elvis and Johnny’s debuts. In fact, Kash’s hit, “Hank’s Whiskey,” the album’s title song (lyrics by Erin’s Enderlin and Greg Becker) has garnered much critical acclaim. Besides that, the Nashville-recorded ditty also contains Hank Williams III’s participation (adding a third- dimensional Pink Floyd-like coda) within a soulful tribute to Williams III’s – also – iconic father. Pretty good culmination to a musical “lifetime” that’s only half over, if that. Of course, his home run single (“Hank’s Whiskey”) and his deftly intoned, country-western CD by the same title, is just the tip of Kash’s dynamic iceberg.
Born, raised and still living in Campton, Kentucky (65 miles east of Lexington), Shefton Kash has been – and is – quite a lot of things. He was introduced to playing music in front of people by a sort of altruistic civil philanthropist – a man by the name of Richard Jett. As Kash explains in his interview with Sound of Lexington’s Billy Crank, Jett first “encouraged” him and “got” Kash as a youthful performer possessing musical aptitudes “in front. . . . of . . . crowds.” Kash describes Jett, a former “mayor” and “superintendent of schools,” as an enterprising “promoter. . . . of . . . artists.” According to Kash, Jett started “a hoe down in Natural Bridge State Park;” ran a “56 passenger-bus” tour service “all over the United States;” and made “clogging the Kentucky state dance when Ernie Fletcher was governor.” “So,” Kash relates, Jett “was big in the music industry.” When he thinks back to the origins of his country western music career – to the people who “believed” in him “the most,” Kash emphasizes that he owes Jett “a lot.” Without Jett’s mentorship, Kash told Sound of Lexington’s interviewer Billy Crank, “I wouldn’t be sitting here today.” Kash explains that when he first started playing his guitar and singing in front of persons, he was just “very nervous.” Strongly encouraged by his parents and immediate family – along with civic promoter Jett and his “friends” – Kash eventually “got . . . used to the stage.” and settled in to find his true passion. Meanwhile, throughout his life – while striving as a musician to grasp his ever-extending musical reach – Kash has always moonlighted as a jack-of-all-trades who just “can’t say no.” He is, in fact, quite the entrepreneur. As Kash reports, “I’ve always been . . . busy.” The “Proud Wolfe Countian” not only continues to cut yards or, rather, as Kash describes it, to provide a “lawn service,” but also runs his very own auto-detail business. Besides that, he is currently the practicing deputy coroner of Wolfe County as well! Yes, graduating from “Mortuary school in 2010,” Kash subsequently pursed “the funeral thing” on a “part-time” basis. Asked if he had or would perhaps pen a song about working as a mortician, Kash livened up a bit and modestly quipped: “I don’t think there’s a song that can be written about that.” Though this subject-for-a-song suggestion obviously does not square with Kash’s well-honed sense of appropriate subjects to include in country western songs, one would be remiss to assume that the widely diverging jobs he’s undertaken haven’t had a subsuming, albeit, indirect effect on Kash’s overall performing and songwriting acumen’s. That is to say, the wild and woolly nature of the various jobs he has managed to muster throughout his life have helped to propel a deeper-seated wisdom onto the evolving skein of his song-creation as well as within Kash’s forte as an exquisitely attuned country western singer. Asked from where he draws his musical inspiration, Kash reflected “Just everyday life, I guess, and all the folks that did” the country western music thing “before me.” Within the nexus of Shefton Kash’s modest aplomb, those “folks” who “did it before” him – i.e., the classic country masters – are “better than” he is. Accordingly, he’s “just following in their footsteps,” doing what he loves.
And he has done thus for quiet some time. I’m not sure who Kash is most closely tracing, Elvis Pressley, Johnny Cash, Keith Whitley (his stated favorite), Merle Haggard, or George Jones. I think he certainly sounds closer to favorite, Keith Whitley. The above-mentioned last four – i.e. Cash through Jones – are the men Kash cites as having the largest influences over him (note that he also admires “Hank Williams Jr., Conway Twitty, and slew of others”). Yet Shefton Kash has played long enough to adeptly realize that out of various repetitions and emulations, an artist “develops his “own sound.” After Richard Jett had adequately encouraged him to get up and play “in front of crowds,” Kash performed “for five years” in the “Renfrow Valley Band” as the “entertainment staff singer and guitar player.” Since he then was (and is still) “always workin’ and playin’ music on the side,” as he told SOL’s Billy Crank – Kash found himself “fortunate to have the experience” of performing “four nights a week,” while simultaneously moonlighting in the “maintenance supervisor” position at Renfrow Valley. On the whole, he has kept this kind of hustle going within his own unique stamp on an old-school, Protestant work-ethic routine. As he sings in the peppy “Black and Decker Blues” on his debut album, Kash “has to break out a sweat / To pay his debt / Another day another dollar made / . . . . It’s a country song he sings.” And that intimate and repetitive knowledge of work coupled with a perpetual and – one should say – obsessed commitment to the passion of his craft comes in handy when one is “playing on the side” as well as Kash while making enough progress on jobs to feed that passion. In this sense, one activity begets another.
Amongst all this frenetic order or disorder (take your pick), Kash has found ways to apply his active energies towards the betterment of others. The “hard working, dedicated country music singer” altruistically headed a benefit in Lee County for Billy and Monica Davis and family; played at Campton Elementary school for the benefit of the Brown family; played a fundraising concert in Buckhorn for the Kentucky State police in support of “Trooper Island Camp;” participated in fund raising for a Wolfe County family who lost their home and business; as well as performed at a fundraiser in support of “Andy Barr for Congress.” (Note – there are plenty of other times he’s played for the benefit of others which are, no doubt, omitted here. ) And as the Larry Cordle and Jerry Salley lyrics go on “How I Want To Be Remembered,” the second song Kash so smoothly performs on his album – “Some aspire to monuments and accolades / Some great contribution to the human race. / But the best I can hope for when I leave this life / Is to live on in the hearts of those I leave behind.” With Shefton Kash’s repeated dedications and professed love toward his family and friends, you’d sworn he’d written this himself. He certainly sings it (and all of his songs) with his patented Woodford Reserve smoothness and, as always, with a supple sense of just where each and every turn of a song is going. In other words, like a pro.
Besides applying his “love” for “music” toward philanthropic pursuits, Shefton Kash, has of course, played in quite a few gigs of note. He “opened” for Dr. Ralph Stanley and the Church Manor Boys at the Ernest Tubbs’ Midnight Jamboree in Nashville, Tennessee – an event in which he began a “friendship” with Dr. Ralph Stanley. Kash credits “Paula Dean and the Swift Sliver Mine Festival” for allowing him “to headline his hometown festival” and, for thus, “making one of his dreams come true.” He headlined at the Jeff Tours Spring Fling in Jackson, Ky. He has appeared on various medias (including here at the Sound of Lexington) as well as appearing on the “The Faron and Scott Show” on WPGS 101.1 F.M., and has played at various venues across all of Eastern Kentucky and at “most everything” in Lexington (including Austin City Saloon for SOL’s inaugural show et cetera). Not only did reception of his debut album get his ”foot in the door” with a three month contact in Nashville at the nightclubs’ Tootsie’s, Rippy’s, and Honky Tonk Central; but his hit song and album, “Hank’s Whisky,” also has garnered a major amount of radio play across the entire Eastern region of the United States. In short, it appears that all that hard work and dedication to his craft has now launched modest and respectful Shefton Kash onto becoming a country western star. Even his given name has star spangled glitter
Yet a humble Christian whose humbleness pervades his ascending performing charisma and confident aplomb, Shefton Kash certainly appears on his way to bigger and brighter things. Now with the auspicious accomplishment of a debut album which could easily be mistaken for Keith Whitley from any jukebox in any country western bar without skipping a beat, that is, now that his agile and male-leading voice has been and is being firmly and further ensconced amongst the Mount Rushmore of country-western achievers, Shelton Kash has simply ‘made it’ and will be much more in demand. But unlike Elvis, this shouldn’t alter the loyal son’s authentic and heartfelt placement of family and friends and God and country above all other “accolades,” as Kash sings in the second song (of 14) on his debut album. And that’s no “sugar-coating it, pop.” You see it wasn’t the reality of Elvis that Shefton Kash envelopes, it was the image of the young, matinee idol, good-guy Elvis back when the nation and Elvis himself appeared sane. Towards that image, Shefton Kash has worked hard within the authentic fabric of his very person. He is the real thing, a country western singer from the country who knows country. He has lived country. Yes, now Shefton Kash’s voice drifts about the heartaches and whisky “shots” of country-western music. And from the “broken memories left behind” and “hourglass of time” his voice, like Shefton Kash himself, shall persevere .
Shefton Kash can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can order “Hank’s Whiskey,” the song, or the entire CD. off Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Itunes, or off other music sites.
Thank you William Ellis for the great article on our featured artist, Shefton Kash! Now check out Shefton’s videos on Barefoot KY TV of his song Hank’s Whiskey, his song Angel To Me, and interview with Billy Crank on Barefoot KY TV as well!
Here’s some pictures for now taken at Sound of Lexington, LLC Studio for Barefoot KY TV with Kentucky Actor and Comedian Billy Crank