The Cadillac Three’s Lasting Legacy

Celebrate 11-Song Album With Ryman Auditorium Headlining Debut

A band like The Cadillac Three is a rare breed in today’s music.

Front man Jaren Johnston had no clue that when he first connected with instrumentalist Kelby Ray Caldwell and drummer Neil Mason in high school that he was meeting his creative partners for life.

It wasn’t until later in life when Johnston realized that Caldwell and Mason were his Keith Richards to his Mick Jagger, his Paul McCartney to his John Lennon and his Bernard Edwards to his Nile Rodgers.

No record deal lost (they signed with Big Machine after getting dropped by Warner Brothers in 2010), no band name change (they’ve gone through at least four), no playing to empty rooms when they were first starting out and no miles of touring across the country in a cramped white passenger van could ever tear them apart.

At the time when Johnston first met Caldwell, Johnston was a freshman at Nashville’s Hume-Fogg High and drumming in the high school’s performance ensembles. He knew that Caldwell was his kind of guy when they first met based on Caldwell’s tie-dyed Jimi Hendrix t-shirt and his massive curly head of hair. Mason was a student at Hillsboro High in Nashville’s nearby Green Hills neighborhood and was playing in their best friends’ band, the Dahlia Llamas.

“I started writing these songs and I took them over to Neil,” Johnston recalled over a Skype call while on tour from Spokane, Washington. “He was working at Smoothie King on Elliston. I said, ’You want to start writing or maybe start a band?’ Because he had just quit Llama and he was like, ’Hell yeah. Let’s do it.’ We started jamming and the next thing you know, 10 years later, we’re doing this all over the world.”

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