The Man in Black’s influence lives on, from roots rockers to punk bands. Want to tap into the spirit of Johnny Cash? Check out one of these Northeast Ohio acts that already have. — Kate Bigam
Horror of 59
You might have a hard time uncovering Cash influences in Horror of 59’s self-described “horror rock” sound, but lead vocalist Bob “Noxious” Ignizio says it’s all in the emotion. “A lot of Johnny’s songs dealt with the dark side of life in an almost matter-of-fact way,” he says. The band’s new song, “Bloodstains and Dirt,” is an attempt at Cash-style lyrics.
• Oct. 6 @ 10 p.m., The Spitfire Saloon, 1539 W. 117th St., Lakewood
• Oct. 26 @ 8 p.m., Beachland Tavern, 15711
Waterloo Road, Cleveland
Derek DePrator’s voice is enough to make you wonder if Johnny Cash is really dead. “I’m in New York, I’m in Washington, I’m in Cleveland, I’m in pain,” the 27-year-old from North Ridgeville sings in his gravelly, knowing voice. The cross-dressing crooner played with nearly half a dozen bands before his 2006 release “Medicate.”
• Sept. 13 & Oct. 7 @ 9 p.m., Pat’s In The Flats,
22 W. Third St., Cleveland
Khaled Tabbara, singer/songwriter for Youngs-
town indie rockers The Zou, has idolized Cash since boyhood. “The personality he projects in his music is one of extreme masculinity but incredible sensitivity,” Tabbara says, adding that the plotline and tempo of Zou’s “Nothing Beats a Hanging” emanate a style that’s distinctly Cash.
• Sept. 22 @ 9 p.m., Happy Dog, 5801 Detroit Ave., Cleveland
It was the one exhibit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum didn’t have: a tour bus, the symbol of life on the road for so many artists. But that glaring gap was filled when Johnny Cash’s JC Unit One rolled up to Key Plaza. The late Man in Black, a Rock Hall inductee, bought the frame of the 40-foot-long bus in 1979 and spent an estimated $553,000 customizing it for his use.
“Because the Cash family spent so much time on this bus, they really wanted all of the comforts of home,” assistant curator Meredith Rutledge says.
The bus consists of four compartments — one each for Cash, wife June Carter Cash, their son John and the driver — as well as a galley kitchen with rotisserie oven to accommodate Cash’s love of barbecue, and a bathroom. Cash’s compartment is outfitted with black padded-leather walls and a table made of hickory salvaged from a Civil War-era house near his Kingsland, Ark., birthplace. His wife’s powder-blue space, complete with lace curtains, vanity and velvet seat cushions, is decorated to resemble the Carter family home in which she was raised.
Each compartment is equipped with banquette seats that fold out into a full-size bed, a built-in TV and stereo. Much of the interior is finished in mahogany from the Cash estate in Jamaica.
“Jamaica prohibits the export of exotic hardwoods,” Rutledge says. “So the Cashes had the trees felled in secret. They were made into crates and shipped to Tennessee to be used as paneling.”
In 2003, Cash sold the bus for $30,000 to childhood friend L. Eldon Wright, co-founder of the American Heritage Music Foundation in Blytheville, Ark. Unable to maintain the vehicle, the foundation sold it to a motorcoach clearinghouse that auctioned it on eBay. When the buyer, horse-show producer Dave Wright (no relation to L. Eldon), learned who the original owner was, he scrapped plans to use it for business travel and gave it to the Rock Hall.
“He felt it belonged here,” Rutledge says.
Admission to tour the JC Unit One is $3 ($2 with museum admission). For more information, visit www.rockhall.com.