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Johnny Cash the Concert

Daniel Thompson and Stuie French are heading to Park Lane Theatre in Ballina on 23 March for their Johnny Cash The Concert revisits Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, performing the tracks from that live album and more Johnny Cash favourites. Daniel spoke with The Echo.

What is it about the music of Johnny Cash and the mystique of the man that seems to continue on?

There is a lot about Johnny Cash that seems to resonate with people but more than anything there was a lot of honesty in his music and the stories he told. He was a very skilled songwriter and performer in that he was able to make his music relatable to many different people on many different levels and people so there is something for everybody in his music.

How do you embody the story and music of Cash?

Our show pays tribute to Johnny Cash and his music. I am not up there doing an impersonation of him but I try to approach his songs in the same way that he did. There is quite a bit of aggression required to sing these songs the way that Johnny did. They just don’t come out right if you don’t put as much effort into singing them as he did, so it can be quite exhausting after two hours onstage.

Do you emulate his voice and his look or is it more than that?

I do try to emulate his voice and his look as much as I can but there is a bit more to it. In performing his songs, it helps to understand where he was coming from, why he was saying what he was saying. Fortunately there have been many biographies written and there is lots of footage and documentaries about him and I have watched countless hours of footage and read a lot in order to get to know him.

How do audiences respond to your show?

We always get a really enthusiastic response to our shows and this new show is no exception. Audiences are really loving hearing the At Folsom Prison album performed live. In the past I’ve had people come up to me in tears at the end of a performance because they loved the show so much. It’s really rewarding when that happens.

This show revisits the Folsom Prison. What songs are featured?

We are performing the At Folsom Prison album track for track as it was released in 1968. It leads off with Folsom Prison Blues and also features I Still Miss Someone, Cocaine Blues and Jackson.

The second set is a selection of Cash hits and favourites including I Walk The Line, A Boy Named Sue and Ring of Fire.

The Johnny Cash catalogue is enormous and there are so many great songs that we are able to feature in our show.

One of my favourite songs is Why I Wear Black. Do you think he gave a social conscience and more of a leftie feel to country music, which usually aligns itself as middle of the road and right wing?

In many ways he most certainly did. The song Man in Black spells out exactly what he was all about. He stood up for things when it wasn’t popular to do so and he gave a voice to minorities who didn’t have a voice of their own. He used his fame to draw attention to things that he thought were not right and wasn’t afraid of the consequences. This is one of the greatest things about Johnny Cash. He was doing all of this in the early 1960s, long before anybody else was.

Cash is the ultimate outsider. Why do you think people resonate with that?

I think all of us feel like outsiders at some point in our lives. As I mentioned earlier,

Cash had an amazing ability to make his music relatable to many different people on many different levels. I relate to a particular song in one way and someone else might get something completely different out of it… He was a very skilled songwriter and artist in that way and I think that’s why so many people of all ages and from all walks of life love Johnny Cash.

What is your favourite part of the Cash story?

There is so much. He was an amazing man and an incredible artist. After a lifetime of making music and at 70 years of age he released his cover of the Nine Inch Nails song Hurt. It was a stunning cover of an extremely powerful song that really struck a chord with a younger audience; 18-year-olds still buy that song to this day, 15 years later. There are not a lot of 70-year-olds who can put out a record that resonates with people like that.

That is just one of the many many stories that I love but there is so much more to the Cash story.

Do you have a June Carter?

Yes we do. Queensland-based singer/songwriter Rebecca Lee Nye joins us to sing Jackson, as well as some of the the other Johnny and June classics. She’s fantastic!

What should we expect for your show in Lennox?

All of the above and more. There are some great stories that go with the songs as well as the At Folsom Prison album. We’ll talk a bit about that and of course try and bring to life Johnny Cash and his music with the amazing musicians whom I get to share the stage with.

Daniel Thompson and Stuie French present Johnny Cash the Concert on Friday 23 March at Park Lane Theatre in Lennox. Tickets on Trybooking.com or call 6687 6291.

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