It’s hard to deny the impact Johnny Cash has had on the sound of American music and our country’s cultural history. From 1955’s “Folsom Prison Blues” to his 2002 cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt,” Cash’s voice and rockabilly bravado have touched millions. Now, nearly six years after his death, Central Coast Cash fans have united in honor of the Man in Black, and will launch the first annual Tribute to Johnny Cash Music Festival this Saturday in Ventura’s Seaside Park (10 W. Harbor Blvd.) from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For festival info and tickets, visit johnnycashmusicfestival.com. And for a few must-see highlights, read on below.
1) It’s All About the Music: You can’t throw a good tribute festival without some good tribute bands, and this weekend’s event has ‘em all. On hand to deliver classic Cash tunes will be locally based outfits like Mighty Cash Cats and Big River, Los Angeles staples Petty Cash and With a Bible and a Gun, and Folsom’s very own Cash Prophets. The result: seven hours of non-stop Johnny, dished up by some of the finest players and devotees in the state.
2. Celebrity Attraction: Though Johnny Cash’s career started back in the ‘50s, kids today are still drawn to his music and mystique, largely thanks to James Mangold’s 2005 biopic, Walk the Line. The Oscar-winning feature film familiarized a whole new generation with the life and troubled times of Cash-and it scored Reese Witherspoon an Academy Award for her portrayal of June Carter. This Saturday, actor and musician Larry Bagby, who played Cash’s original upright bassist Marshall Grant in the film, will be onstage to help pay homage to Cash’s music and legacy.
3) Serious Horse Power: Many look to the Man in Black as the first real rockabilly, so it’s no surprise Saturday’s fest will be chock full of greaser goodness, including a hot rod car show. The aptly named “One Piece at a Time” event promises more than 100 souped-up and tricked-out cars, motorcycles, and bikes similar to what was hot in Cash’s heyday. In other words, classic Americana at its finest.
4) It’s Babe-a-licious: And for those of you lookin’ for a little eye candy to go along with all the musical mayhem, be sure to check out the festival’s Rockabilly Boy and Pin-Up Girl beauty contests, where preregistered lovers of all things retro will strut their stuff for the crowd. The winners are based on audience choice, so be sure to show up early and cast your vote.