Perhaps British country music’s best kept secret, singer-songwriter
Clive John will not be familiar to the majority of British
country music fans. From Malvern in Worcestershire, Clive
was taken under the management wing of Frank Hambleton and
played the British club and festival scene for several years
from around 2000 onwards, performing with his unparalleled
songwriting and amazing
clear cut vocals!
Clive John started songwriting at about the age of 18
and now has a number of CDs under his belt. Several years
ago he was heavily involved in the Irish scene and had a
deal with an independent Irish recording company affording
him the opportunity to spend about 6 months in New York
and Boston. Clive states “I had a lot of emotional times
while I was there and used a lot of those experiences to
compose the numbers off my album Purple Sky, including ‘Rainy
Day In Boston’, ‘Fast Food
Fiasco’, ‘I Still Want You’
plus a couple of others.” With regular airplay due to the
industry based Hot Disc CD ‘I Still
Want You’ made #3 in the European NMS Charts, while
‘In A Whisper’ off Clive’s
first album also made #3 and gained much appeal in Australia.
While in America he was on television that was broadcast
all over New York, plus radio due to the Irish connection.
Clive worked the University campuses and Irish bars around
Boston and New York and also spent some time working in
For the past three-plus years he’s been touring with
his Johnny Cash Roadshow – A Tribute.
I was invited to see this superlative theatre show on 26th
February at the intimate Arts Theatre, New Mills, High Peak
in Derbyshire. The four piece band all dressed in the long
black frock coats synonymous with Johnny Cash, sees Nick
Davis on lead guitar – harmony vocals, Alan Parker bass –
harmony, plus drummer – harmony singer James Elliot-Williams
and of course Clive as The Man In Black himself.
Though not trying to impersonate Cash, Clive John sits
impeccably in the Johnny Cash profile with his vocal style
and stage presence.
During the course of the evening the band covered the many
songs that drew Cash to the public in large, breaking the
genre boundaries of individuals particular tastes. A backdrop
screen added to the ambiance of the show with a projected
slide show ideally fitting in with each song performed.
Peterborough based Leslie Curtis joined Clive on stage taking
the June Carter Cash parts in songs such as ‘Jackson’,
‘Long Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man’
and the gospelesque ‘Daddy Sang Bass’
with a voice that emulated June flawlessly.
Clive sprinkled the music of Johnny Cash with three or
four original songs. His passionate ‘Cigarettes
and Coffee’ drew a highly approved response from the
audience, ‘These Hills’ is
about his home area of Malvern and written when he lived in
Connecticut, USA. Clive also included a heartfelt song that
he’s released as a single ‘Make The
Most Of Everyday’ for Acorns Children's Hospice Trust
that cares for life-limited children and their families
across the West Midlands region. All proceeds from the
single go to the charity.
Just a few of the standout Johnny Cash songs performed
were the Shel Silverstein gallows humour ‘25
Minutes To Go’ about a man awaiting execution on
the end of a rope. The obligatory prison classic ‘San
Quentin’ brought enthusiastic and an almost riotous
form the audience in the correct places of course, as in
true fashion we were locked in the confinement of the auditorium!!!
Clive also gave an expressive rendition of ‘Hurt’
found on Johnny Cash’s 2002 album, American IV: The Man
Comes Around, written by Trent Reznor and first released
by the band Nine Inch Nails. Kristofferson’s ‘Sunday
Morning Coming Down’ was particularly inspiring as
I related to the original release in 1970. While living
on my own in Australia I would also wander aimlessly some
Sunday mornings feeling lost and alone. Sting’s ‘I
Hang My Head’ sat perfectly and ‘Ring
Of Fire’ with the whole band starting off a cappella,
replacing the mariachi trumpet intro of the original having
a mind blowing effect.
Clive John’s Johnny Cash
Roadshow is an outstanding theatre production.
Throughout the show Clive gives a knowledgeable narration
regarding details of dates etc., relating to the numerous
songs performed. During the interval and at the end of the
show members of the audience who were not familiar with
Clive’s own work were queuing to purchase the CDs and DVD
that Clive had on sale.
The Johnny Cash Roadshow - A
Tribute is an excellent show that is a truly fitting
compliment to one of country music’s much loved and
respected artists…Johnny Cash, ‘The Man In Black’!!!