Country fans don’t need a time machine to go back to the days when Johnny Cash would electrify audiences and Patsy Cline would serenade those wistful souls — they’ll be right here in Victoria on Saturday night.
“The Legends Live On” tribute performance will have fans seeing ghosts as David James stars as the Man In Black with his band Big River, while Sara Jeanne Hosie plays Patsy with special guest Chantal Richard as June Carter. For one show only, the three will reunite those “Crazy” days of country past with eerie look-alike similarities, rarely heard stories and, of course, the songs.
“Why Johnny? Well, it came a lot easier than you’d think,” says James, who has been touring with his deep voice as a tribute to Cash since he first saw the blockbuster Walk The Line. “We both come from a similar background, in a rural area, with parents who aren’t rich. I guess I saw myself in him … But there are hundreds of tributes out there. When I go on stage, I don’t claim to be Johnny Cash. I talk about him. I honour him. The first thing I tell folks is, ‘I’m — almost — Johnny Cash’.”
James has convinced audiences from his hometown in Nanaimo to Ontario and the U.S. that he’s more than almost. This summer, he was asked by Toronto filmmaker Jonathan Holiff to star in the upcoming film My Father and The Man In Black about Holiff’s late father Saul, Johnny Cash’s longtime personal manager. James read letters and performed voice tracks for the film. Meanwhile, Hosie has made her own mark as the star of the play A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline, with sold-out performances all over the province. The duo has performed on tour before, but this show will be a one-off for Victoria.
James, who makes it his business to absorb everything Cash, says that while movies like Walk the Line generate plenty of fanfare, some made-for-Hollywood rumours don’t ring true. June Carter and Johnny never met randomly backstage, for example — her manager assigned them a gig together. And though that film would have fans believe Cash’s classic “I Walk the Line” was written for June, James says it was actually a dedication to his first wife, Vivian. When it comes to the real Cash and Cline, however, James says there was a crush, but it was at the height of Johnny’s addictions and Patsy wouldn’t have any of it.
“They toured together, and he hit on her,” says James. “But, as the story goes, Patsy heard a knock on her hotel room door and yelled out, ‘You go on back to your room now, Cash, and leave me alone.’ Not a word, just that knock, and then he was gone.” M
Cash & Cline— Country Legends
Sat., Sept. 22, 7pm at
Tickets $38.50 at box office: 250-386-6121, rmts.bc.ca.