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The Johnny Cash Roadshow The Johnny Cash Roadshow logo


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 Photo of Clive Johnamazing 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 Holland.

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 Johnpresence. 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 Clive with the classic Johnny Cash style guitarresponse 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’!!!