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The Golden Cadillacs

Sep 30, 2011 06:03PM ● By Wendy Sipple

Photo by Dante Fontana

Seated around burgers, fries and plates heaped with barbecue at Poor Red’s BBQ where it all began, The Golden Cadillacs discuss just what it is about this small town they all love so much.

“I grew up a pretty happy kiddo,” recalls Adam Wade, the band’s bassist and lead vocalist. “I have so many memories here and it’s where my family is. I love the small-town vibe.” Half of the foursome, which in addition to Wade consists of guitarists Nick Swimley and Jeremy Plog as well as percussionist and background vocalist James Neil, were raised in the Placerville area. Therefore, the band prefers to perform in their old stomping ground haunts such as Red’s, Cozmic Café and PJ’s. “The air smells better up here,” Neil confirms. “And our music just sounds right in a bar.”

The Golden Cadillacs nabbed their name from the cocktail Red’s is famous for, as they remember fondly visiting the bar/restaurant with their fathers while growing up. Years later, Swimley and Wade – who have been jamming together since high school – were each drinking a frothy “Golden Cadillac” when the name stuck. “We’re lucky we didn’t end up with Brown Cow,” jokes Wade. “But seriously, you can’t not like this place and still call yourself my friend.”  

Their music is another connection to their small-town roots, as The Golden Cadillacs are undeniably country, exploring the spectrum between honky-tonk and rock ‘n’ roll. Influenced by such greats as Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam and George Jones, their sound is quite different from that of their peers. “We like rad old-era music; it’s what makes us different. A lot of the classic tunes we cover, you won’t hear anyone else playing,” Swimley remarks. “We don’t play your parent’s country music­ – we play your grandparent’s.”

Their first album was released back in 2009, self-titled and recorded by the band out in a Greenstone-area barn complete with running horses, home cooking and beer. The first batch of songs, gems such as “Poor Red’s” and “Miss El Dorado,” were mostly written by Wade while he was living in San Diego and feeling homesick for good ol’ Hangtown. A second album is currently in the works as The Golden Cadillacs create more songs and raise funds. Although it’s a serious mission of theirs, the band also spends time focusing on putting on good shows, bringing people together and improving their music. “There’s no destination,” says Wade. “I know we’re hardest on ourselves, but mainly we’re focused on making things even better.”

The group has certainly come a long way, morphing from three members to four and replacing some to form The Golden Cadillacs as they are known today. Whatever the future may hold, the band will always remember the time after their first show, sitting in Swimley’s old ‘80s Cadillac counting out their small cut…feeling as if they were already rich and the night full of golden promise. •  

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