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Cash Monies & The Jetsetter do some thinkin' out loud

By Brian Steinberg, September 2003

Jim Gaddis, lead singer and songwriter of the Boston-based band Cash Monies and the Jetsetter, has a tone as easy to listen to as one of the songs from this country-rock band, which mixes bluesy swagger with blue-collar appeal.

The band's second disc, "Thinkin' Out Loud," has been out for five months now, and Gaddis is in the midst of touring and thinking - and lots more is in store.

"Our first record was a lot more country than this last one. This one is more rootsy," a condition he attributes to two factors - songwriting and the presence of former Georgia Satellite Dan Baird behind the knobs. "A lot of that was Dan's thing. He came in with an arsenal of guitars, and he was like, 'Let's put some fire under it.' The songs didn't change at all. They just got a little harder. It was going to be a little more rock and roll anyway. We just felt like going that way with the second one. The songs are a little more aggressive."

How did Baird come on board? Chalk it up to a Nashville visit during one of Cash Monies' recent tours.

"We met him about a year and a half ago," Gaddis recalls. "He lives there. I'd heard a whole bunch of things he had produced for Blue Mountain, and I'm a huge Chris Knight fan."

In the studio, the producer was all business. "We were sitting in the studio. It was getting late at night. We were having a few cold cocktails, and Dan is pacing back and forth, telling us what to do," Gaddis recalls.

The band recorded, mixed and mastered the disc in 20 days.

The band's first disc, self-titled, was issued in 2001, and, according to Gaddis, had a lot more country than rock. With songs like "Sweet Tea" and "6s and 7s," was described as having a sound similar to honky-tonk.

"Thinkin' Out Loud," the band's first effort for the Pigpile label of Boston, blends a range of rootsy sounds, from the punchy oompah-pah of "Takin' it Out" to the guitar-driven defiance of "Cleaning Up" to the fiddle-laced swing of "Cemetary Hill."

If you listen carefully, you might hear harmonies reminiscent of The Eagles, a little Southern swagger la Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blue Mountain or Bottle Rockets and a sense of fun not unlike that of NRBQ's.

Gaddis, who does the lion's share of the songwriting, says every tune is rooted in real life. "I'm not a guy who writes fictitiously," he says. "This happened. Usually, when I'm happy in my relationship, nothing good really comes out of it musically. I have to get new crises every now and then to get a new record."

For example, "Fifteen Years," the disc's leadoff track, is "about a girl in Virginia," says Gaddis. "Broken Glass" is about a girl in Cambridge. They can just go one and on" Cash Monies & the Jetsetter consists of Gaddis, Barry Edwards, the lead guitarist (who does a little songwriting of his own, though none of his compositions have made it to disc yet), Scott Cormier on bass and Dave Baker on drums.

While the band will play a cover song now and again, Gaddis says he never really wanted to play somebody else's tunes.

"I never went into the cover band kind of thing. I went straight into writing songs. You can say I was never good enough to play anybody else's stuff, so I had to write my own," he jokes. "Whatever the case, I wanted to write my own songs."

Gaddis says he grew up with music on his mind - in Mississippi. "My stepfather was a huge music fan. We always had great music around. So, I was always writing songs."

He remembers listening to Willie Nelson, Tom Waits and Rickie Lee Jones when he was growing up. He still has a fondness for John Prine, especially songs on that songwriter's first two albums. He has lived in Boston and various places in Mississippi and Louisiana, including New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

These days, touring occupies his time. "In November, we're going out to California and in February to Germany, probably just for a couple of weeks," he says.

Upon the band's return, a new disc could be in the offing. "When we come back from Germany, we'll probably go into the studio. We have the material now, but we'd like to help (the label) make a little more money before we hit them up for another one. We can make another record in the next six months."

What will it sound like? "I don't know yet," Gaddis confesses. "I've been listening to a ton of mood music, old Tom Waits, writing with those chords and stuff like that. Who freaking knows yet? I tend not to know what they are going to sound like until they are mixed and mastered."

One thing that everyone knows the sound of is the band's name, which is arguably one of the most distinctive in the genre. Where does it come from? "Me and one of the guys in the band came up with a goofy name for the band, and it just kind of stuck," Gaddis explains. "People think it's a rap band from the 'cash money,' but you know, it's a pretty good name."

Still, people are divided. "A ton of people really like or think that the name is stupid," he says.

Fans' thoughts on the name aside, Gaddis expects to keep moving along. "We're just pushing along, continuing on the steps to make this work."