VISALIA – A live recording of playing the blues at Folsom State Prison and watching Joaquin Phoenix play him on screen are the closest most people will ever come to experiencing Johnny Cash playing in the San Joaquin Valley.
But one local man is working to change that.
No, he isn’t a medium channeling deceased musicians, but Hanford native James Garner has made himself into the closest thing the world has left to the incomparable Man In Black. Garner is not an impersonator, but is a huge Johnny Cash fan. Similar to Cash’s own life, Garner was drawn to music at a young age. As a boy, Garner listened to every record, tape and CD of Cash. He even had the opportunity to meet his idol backstage after one of Cash’s last tours before his death after diagnosed with Shy-Drager syndrome, a form of multiple system atrophy, in 1997. Garner introduced himself to Cash as his “biggest fan” and has never looked back.
Garner’s steady baritone emulates but does not impersonate Cash’s singing style while his band carries the tune reminiscent of the Tennessee Three, which gave Cash’s performances that “Boom-Chicka-Boom” sound. Garner’s trio of talented musicians has brought the pioneering play back to the stage. Nick Auriemmo successfully captures the energy and distinctive style of Cash’s drummer, W.S. Holland, in every live show. Denny Colleret replicates Luther Perkins’ signature guitar sound and style. Rick Duncan’s expressive bass provides lays the foundation like Cash’s Marshall Grant.
Garner and his Cash Tribute trio combine a respectful remembrance of Cash with a nostalgic journey through his life. From theaters to prisons, audiences have reveled in the their recreation of Cash’s enduring songs. With more than 250 professional shows to its credit, Cash Tribute has established itself as one of the best tribute acts in the country. And with his home base in Central California, Garner is bringing Cash back to the Valley, and helping raise money too.
The Cash Tribute Show take the stage in Lindsay on Saturday, Dec. 2, at the Lindsay Community Theater, 190 N. Elmwood Ave. All individual seats are $20 with a $5 discount for groups of 10 more. The concert and the money raised will help support performing arts in Lindsay in the form of community plays as well as live music.