With a keen eye for detail, a treasure trove of heartwarming stories and an obvious passion for the music, James Garner’s Tribute to Johnny Cash brought an enthusiastic audience to their feet at the Arcadia Performing Arts Center Saturday night.
Polished, poised and dressed, of course, entirely in black, Garner faithfully recreated the “Man in Black’s” commanding stage presence.
The three very able musicians supporting Garner were clearly up to the task of recreating the sound and look of Cash’s longtime band, the Tennessee Three. Indeed, Denny Colleret on lead guitar, Nick Auriemmo drumming and bass player Rick Duncan are undoubtedly a major reason the tribute has been thrilling fans of Johnny Cash for over a decade.
The fans in Arcadia where thrilled when, at the close of the show, Garner launched into an old novelty song that was recorded in 1996 by Cash called, “I’ve Been Everywhere.” An extraordinarily difficult song to sing — or even commit to memory — the lyrics include a rapid-fire roll call of dozens of towns, cities and countries. While versions have been written for other countries, singers who can perform this song as flawless as Garner did are a rarity.
Called out for an encore, Garner and his band revised a medley of the hits including “Folsom Prison Blues,” the song that opened the show. Gracious and clearly moved by the warm reception, Garner closed by saying, “God bless you folks and God bless Johnny Cash.”
The News Review
Garner’s arresting portrayal of Cash resulted in a well-earned standing ovation after nearly two hours of nonstop entertainment. He and the band have honed their ability to emulate the Johnny Cash sound so well that the experience feels as much like a journey through time as it does a concert.
Garner fills the space between songs with his “and now you know the rest of the story” brand of storytelling, where he provides facts, insights and historical context for Cash’s body of work. The time he takes to chat does nothing to detract from the performance, but rather provides more drama and emotion to an already heartfelt presentation.
Former Reporter, Ventura Star Free Press
Garner and his Boom-Chicka-Boom band give concertgoers their money’s worth. This act is seasoned enough to go anywhere and will not disappoint the people who wish to resurrect that classic Johnny Cash voice and rhythm.
Beley attended Johnny Cash’s historic concert at Folsom Prison in 1968. Hear his interview and his personal recordings from the prison show on NPR’s “All Things Considered” here.