Gary West Interview

Gary West Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

Lamitschka: Music has many new fans throughout Europe who may
be hearing about you for the first time. How would you describe yourself and
the music you play to someone who has never seen or heard you?

Gary West: I played my first paying gig when I was in 8th Grade and I
havent stopped. The first concert I attended was Waylon Jennings. After that, I
know this was how I would spend my life. I grew up as a fan of music by Johnny
Cash. My national touring tribute show, For the Love of Cash, gives me the
opportunity to pay homage to not only Johnny Cash, but some of those legendary
country artists  such as Waylon Jennings
and Willie Nelson, and even Carl Perkins — as well as performing my own
original music. I am fortunate to be able to tour year-round and bring this
iconic music to not only the current dedicated fans, but a whole new generation
of country music lovers who weren’t fortunate to grow up listening to Cash,
Jennings, and Nelson. I am not a Johnny Cash impersonator – I am a country
music entertainer. I am one of the few artists that produce their own music. I
have produced hundreds of other artists‘ music as well. When folks come to see
me and my band, they can expect to be entertained. Whether I am singing a
pounding Rockabilly Cash song, reinterpreting a Waylon song, or performing a
Gary West original song…it’s all about delivering a great experience to the
audience. My band is comprised of world-class musicians with a long resume in
country music history which includes decades of performances on the world-famous
Grand Ole Opry. You won’t see me wearing a wig and trying to look like Johnny
Cash (there was only ONE Johnny Cash).  However, my  show does include some fun impersonations by
some country greats from Ray Charles to John Conlee and other famous
celebraties. I like to think of a Gary West show as a real musical experience
and music that really touches your soul, resurrects  memories, and establishes new memories, while
keeping the legacy of REAL traditional country music alive.

Lamitschka: Do
you write the songs yourself? If not, how do you go about finding the songs for
your CD?

Gary West: Besides
obviously recording and performing music that is written by other artists (i.e.
Johnny Cash), I do write my own songs. The albums I’ve released thus far (For
the Love of Cash – Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3/Heroes, Friends, &
Legends) feature a mixture of songs that I interpret by legendary artists along
with my originals. There is no shortage of songs in Nashville, that‘s for sure.
I have many songwriting friends that know me pretty well and often times they
will bring me songs. I’m enjoying writing more now and look forward to this
next original music. I am honored to have my music available at the
world-famous Ernest Tubb Record Store in Nashville, in CD format, on USB Drive,
and of course, digitally via all music service outlets. And, you can always
find all my music atwww.garywestmusic.com.

Lamitschka: How much creative
control do you have over your music?

Gary West: TOTAL
CONTROL. It is important to me that I maintain total control of my music…from
the selection of the songs, the studio it‘s recorded in, the musicians, the
equipment used to record, the arrangements, the instrumentation. This is also why
I produce my own music. I have been produced by some well known producers and I
was never happy.  This is a critical part
of the process for me – to maintain creative control of the music that I’m
releasing. I do all the post production, recording, and mixing. I wouldn’t have
it any other way. I’ve also produced music for many other artists as well.

Lamitschka: Your
current single is being played by radio. What do you feel is special about this
song that makes people want to hear it?

Gary West: I had the
distinct pleasure to recently record the beloved Cash/Carter hit song Jackson
with legendary country music singer/songwriter Leona Williams. We released the
video on January 31st on Vevo (you can watch it athttps://youtu.be/QNC7JiHqlks) and the single just dropped on February
21st. It’s getting a lot of attention and airplay. I was also thrilled to have
Leona as my special guest recently at the iconic Nashville Palace and we
performed Jackson live for the many music fans who came out to enjoy an evening
of country music. It was so much fun! My previous single One Piece at a Time,
another much-requested Cash hit, is also doing well. The video was filmed on
Johnny Cash’s farm right alongside the prototype of the car. There are plans to
feature the video at the farm, which is owned by a wonderful family, the
Oxleys, who have restored the place and turned it into a museum, music venue, and
popular tourist stop-off for Johnny Cash fans. It’s called Storytellers Museum
& Hideaway Farm and it’s located in Bon Aqua, TN. The Oxley family very
generously welcomed me to film there and also hosted the launch party for my
most recent album For the Love of Cash Volume 3 – Heroes, Friends, &
Legends. Leona Williams was also onhand and joined me onstage for the event. Here is the video for One Piece at a Time:https://youtu.be/cv1vk1K5dI0.  

As I perform many songs
made famous by legends of country music, of course, there is a built-in
audience. But I’ve had equal success with my original songs, such as I Don’t Do
it For the Money (I Do it For the Love of Cash), I Ain’t Playin‘ No Jason
Aldean, and Travelin‘ Man (you can watch the video for Travelin‘ Man here:https://youtu.be/CQdWnEK0uBA). I get a lot of requests for my
original music during my shows as well as the interpretations of some of the
great country music hits that I perform. I have a wonderful fan base who
regularly come out to see the show whenever I’m in their neck of the woods.

Lamitschka: What will your next
single be?

Gary West: The next
single, I Don’t Do it For the Money (I Do it For the Love of Cash), will be out
on June 12th. I wrote the song sitting on my tour bus the night before we were
to go into the studio. The song pretty much tells my story of why I like to
play Cash music.

Lamitschka: What has been your
greatest challenge in music business?

Gary West: As an
independent artist, there’s so much more to music than just stepping on stage. Music
is a serious business and the day-to-day operations can be time consuming. It
becomes a juggling act (between working social media, promotions, the business
side, etc.) just to squeeze in time to be creative! Performing is just a small
part of the process.There’s so much more that goes on in the background…including
the recording process itself which is intensive and time consuming.  And, when you are also your own producer,
well, that is another whole ball of wax. It’s intense and we dont know when to
stop…LOL!  I live and breath everything
that touches the music business. Ironically, it’s hard to find time to sit down
and just play my guitar and sing somthing that I want to sing.

Lamitschka: What was your big
break that got you into the music business?

Gary West: I’ve been in
the music business most of my life. It began when I was a child and my parents
bought me my first set of drums. In fact, I formed my first band, The Royal
Aces, when I was still in grade school. One of my teachers gave us the
opportunity to play at a school event…and I was hooked! I guess you could say
our big break came in 1988 when Tommy Cash asked us to go on a 30-day tour and
be the backing band on a run through Texas. It was Tommy who gave me my
professional stage name – Gary West. I was born Gerald Boger Jr. and Tommy said
I needed a stage name. One night, as he was introducing the band, he announced
that on drums was Gary West. That name stuck with me and I began to use it. It
has served me well!

Lamitschka: What
moments in your career stand out in your memory as highlights and achievements
which you are proud of?

Gary West: 1988 was not
only the year that I toured with Tommy Cash, but it was also the year that I
first played on The Grand Ole Opry. I had the honor to perform with Opry star
Del Reeves. I continued on to
work with many great Opry legends over the years, including 12 years with the
great Little Jimmy Dickens. I’ve additionally toured with Jett Williams and The
Drifting Cowboys (Hank Sr.’s original band with Don Helms and Jerry Rivers),
The Legendary Drifters, Melba Montgomery, and backed up many more like Johnny
Paycheck, Charlie Pride, LuLu Roman, Porter Wagener, Hank Thompson, and many
more. So, I’ve been blessed to have many career highlights.

Lamitschka: When
you get time off, how do you like to relax?

Gary West: Of course,
when I’m not touring, I always look forward to spending time with friends and
family, mainly, my beautiful wife Julie, whom I married in 2015. As far as
relaxing goes, I don’t know if you would necessarily call racing cars a
peaceful pasttime, but it’s a passion of mine, right up there with music. I’ve pursued
the sport at various times in my life, until an accident sidelined me. I
recently reconnected with racing through the generosity of a dear friend, Dink
McKeehan of DinkGoneWild. Last year, I had the opportunity to race in Lavonia,
Georgia, as a part of the DinkGoneWild team in a 602 Open Wheel Modified. What
a thrill! I have some more racing news on the horizon. You can check my website
for updates on my racing events. I think racing fits well with being a country
music entertainer…after all, how many country songs are written about cars? Probably
one of the most well known race car drivers was Marty Robbins who raced in
NASCAR. When racing is in your blood – much like music – it’s something that
you are driven (pun intended) to do. I also love camping and boating in the
beautiful lakes in Minnisota, and I also love to snow ski. My favorite way to
realax is by the fireplace or the campfire.

Lamitschka: Many
music fans today get their information about artists online. Do you have your
own website and what will fans find there?

Gary West: My website
iswww.garywestmusic.com. You can listen and purchase my
music, see videos, check our tour dates, and news updates and you can sign up
on our mailing list. Come by and say hello! You can also find me on Facebook,
Twitter, and Instagram. Thank you so much for the opportunity to talk about my
music. I hope to see everyone out on the road in 2020!

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