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Johnny Cash tribute band appears at Ford Theater

James Garner and the Tennessee Three appeared at the Ford Theater on Saturday night, giving residents a glimpse of the artistry of the Man in Black, Johnny Cash. Garner channeled the country icon, with the look, mannerisms, and vocal style of the singer, giving the audience an amazing concert, according to several attendees.

"It was outstanding. I saw Cash back in 1978 in Las Vegas, and he had Cash down completely. He even had his guitar playing style perfect," said Ralph Cordero, who was in attendance with his wife and son.

Garner and his band have been performing the tribute show for over 15 years, playing in a variety of venues across the country. "I first discovered Johnny Cash when I was a youngster in Hanford," said Garner. "My mom bought me a tape of Cash's greatest hits, and I would listen to it over and over."

Garner went on to say that he met Cash at a concert in Fresno. "We even went around the back after the show, and I got to shake his hand and tell him that I was his biggest fan. I didn't think that I would ever wash my hand after that."

Garner sang a variety of Cash's hits, from his early songs when he first got started in Memphis, to his later works, after Cash had made a comeback in his later years. Cash had hit bottom after he reached the top and had become one of the top-selling artists in any genre.

Cash battled addiction during this time, finally bringing his journey to the top crashing down. After a monthlong detox battle, Cash found his voice again, recommitted to his music and his family.

Garner also talked about Cash's unique relationship with June Carter Cash, who was a vital part of his recovery and career thereafter. He regaled the audience with stories of Cash's most notable performances, such as his shows at Folsom and San Quentin prisons. Garner and his band, celebrating the anniversary of Cash's Folsom performance, traveled to Folsom and performed a concert there for the inmates, playing the exact playset that was performed there in 1968.

Garner's low, booming voice matched Cash's, from his tone to his one-of-a-kind cadence. Garner's band, the Tennessee Three, pounded out that famous rhythmic "chick-a-boom" sound that his band was known for. The audience clapped and followed along as Garner gave them the majority of hits that made Cash one of the best-selling artists of all time. Garner and his trio impressed the audience, many of whom are long-time Cash fans, such as Tony Givens, who is originally from Tennessee, and Ruby Hickman. Hickman, who lives in Buttonwillow, said that she is originally from Arkansas and has loved Cash forever. "On our last trip back to Arkansas, we had a chance to visit Cash's boyhood home in Arkansas. It was fascinating. And Mr. Garner is doing such a great job in playing the music that I grew up with."

Garner said that he thought that the Shafter venue was a special one. "You guys have a very special place here, and we are very proud to be here," he said. "We would love to come back and see you all again."

 

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