Robert Shaw’s tribute to the iconic country western star featured his exceptionally fine Lonely Street Band in a survey of Cash’s many hit records over his decades at the pinnacle of American popular music. Everyone was in top form, including an enthusiastic audience, who clapped and sang along to their favorite tunes.
Beginning with Cash’s breakthrough hits, “Cry, Cry, Cry”, and “I’ll Walk the Line” from the mid 1950’s Sun Recordings thru his later recordings for Jerry Rubin (known as the American Recording Sessions), Shaw, with his rich baritone and his seven member band of superb musicians, knocked out hit after hit from the Johnny Cash playbook. In a career that spanned over 40 years, Cash became one of the top selling artists of all time with over 90 million records sold. His musical versatility earned him the distinction of being the first performer to be inducted into the Country Music, Rock and Roll, and Gospel Music Halls of Fame.
Cash, who died in 2003, helped redefine country music with his many rock infused crossover hits such as “Ring of Fire”, “Orange Blossom Special”, “Jackson”, “I’ve Been Everywhere”, and “Folsom Prison Blues”. In his long and prolific career he recorded over 1500 tunes, over a thousand from his own pen. Saturday night’s show was a crowd pleaser by any standard and included a sampling from every phase of Cash’s career including traditional western tunes, rock infused county hits, gospel music, prison songs from his legendary albums Folsom Prison Blues and San Quentin and comic songs such as “A Boy Named Sue” and “One Piece at a Time”.
Johnny Cash, the son of an Arkansas sharecropper who picked cotton as a boy, began his music career in the 1950’s as a member of what pop music historians refer to as the “Million Dollar Quartet”, which included Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins, a group of young musicians recruited by Sam Phillips at Sun Records. All four became pop music legends and helped usher in a new sound and a new era in American popular music. Although Cash had a number of crossover hits, he never abandoned his roots in country music. Folk singer and Nobel laureate Bob Dylan formed a deep bond with Cash and has offered homage to his originality and lasting influence on American musical culture.
Besides Shaw, two members of the Lonely Street Band deserve special mention. In tribute to Carl Perkins, who toured with Cash’s roadshow, band member Alex Mack treated the audience to a rocking rendition of Perkin’s “Blue Suede Shoes”. Another show stopper was Kaci Bays' spot on rendition of Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee”.
For those who haven’t experienced a Robert Shaw tribute show, he will return to the Elks Theater with the Lonely Street Band on August 17th, with a tribute to the King of Rock, Elvis Presley. Tickets can be purchased by calling 928.777.1370, or www.prescottelkstheater.com.
Robert Shaw with fan David Stringer, guitarist Alex Mack, and vocalist Kaci Bays.