The “Man in Black” will be hitting the stage in Sylvan Lake later this month.
David James and Big River are putting on a Tribute to Johnny Cash at the Sylvan Lake Legion on Oct. 18.
On stage James performs under the persona of “Almost Johnny Cash” and begins every show by introducing himself as such.
“It always gets a laugh out of people,” said James in a phone interview. “I ain’t lying either because I’m not Johnny Cash, I’m almost Johnny Cash.”
The Alberta-native decided to form a tribute band when he was watching the movie “Walk the Line” and his girlfriend noticed he sounded exactly like Johnny Cash while singing along.
About a decade ago the band started playing pubs around Vancouver Island, where he lives, and has taken off.
“We’ve been pounding the heck out of western Canada for quite some time,” explained James. “We’ve been out east a few times and we’re heading into the States starting in November.”
The A Tribute to Johnny Cash show features all the hit songs alongside some story telling.
“Johnny was a pretty funny guy on stage and I’ve been known to be quite humorous myself,” added James.
During the set James tells stories about what he knew of Johnny, saying although he was never there he does relate to Johnny.
In the past James had abused drugs and alcohol and was turning his life around when he watched “Walk the Line” for the first time.
“That’s when I discovered him and watched his movie and went ‘good Lord, I feel kind of like this guy,” said James.
Between the similar life struggles and the sense of humour, James said adapted the “Almost Johnny Cash” persona on stage is sort of natural.
James says he has a few “key” stories that relate to certain songs, but every show is a little different.
“I do it kind of in the style Johnny would, which was from the hip as I like to call it, just kind of ‘OK let’s see what happens here, let’s try this story,’” James said. “You’re going to get a pile of cool stories, stuff you may or may not have known.”
The show goes through emotional songs like “Hurt” and “The Long Black Veil”, but also takes a gleeful ride with song-a-long songs like “Ring of Fire”, “Folsom Prison Blues” and “A Boy Named Sue”.
He added “Orange Blossom Special” is a standout in terms of showmanship.
“Johnny plays a couple of harps and of course I imitate what he did and then some,” said James, adding he has also got pretty good at the harmonica playing the same song for 10 years.
He says they get intimate with the crowd and the audience is “very much part of the show” because without them there is no show.
James continued saying the show will make you laugh, make you cry and take you back in time.
“More than once I’ve had a little old lady come up and go ‘sonny, you made me feel 16 again, thank you’… It’s pretty deep actually, it’s the best compliment you can get,” said James.
Tickets for a Tribute to Johnny Cash are $35 and are available for purchase, cash only, at the Sylvan Lake Legion.
Dinner tickets can be purchased separately for an additional $10.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 18 followed by dinner at 6 p.m. The show will start at 7:30 p.m.
Remaining tickets will be available at the door, although the show is already over 50 per cent sold out.
For more information go to the Rock-A-Billy Entertainment Facebook page or contact the Legion at 403-887-2601.