On Tuesday 4th March 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of a few people invited to an event in London at the Bag O’ Nails club in Soho for the launch of a brand new album release from none other than Johnny Cash called Out Among The Stars. My invite came very late on the morning of the event via my friend Steve Cherelle at the BBC. Steve was scheduled to go but was unwell and didn’t make it. Knowing how much of a Johnny Cash fanboy I am he arranged for me to go. Hosting the show was radio legend Bob Harris and his guest for a “questions and answers” session and a preview of the new album was Johnny Cash and June Carter’s only son, John Carter Cash. I left home early because I didn’t know where I was going and bumped into Peter Lewry outside the venue before it opened. Peter is the creator and editor of Johnny Cash: The Man In Black magazine. It is now based solely online due to spiraling printing costs but a great read, with interesting content you won’t find just by searching the Internet. Although the venue itself seemed to be quite formal with all the staff wearing suits and ties, there was no dress code. John Carter himself arrived in a wooly hat and scarf and without any of the pretense I expected at such an event. Instead of being snuck in and presented as the “star of the show” as you might expect, John Carter just strolled into the room with everyone else and began mingling and chatting with everyone. I spoke to Bob Harris at the bar briefly and he was very nice. I remembered listening to his shows back in the late 80’s when I lived in Manchester and would drive through the night back to my hometown of Portsmouth after a gig. I was introduced to John Carter Cash by Adrian Tredinnick of Copmedia and got to chat with him for a while before everything got started for the evening. We talked about his Dad, obviously, about our show Johnny Cash Revisited and about John Carter’s own album Lupus Rex, which features music inspired by his children’s novel of the same name. It’s great! Check it out for yourself at http://www.johncartercash.com/
Also at the event were the owner and staff of Westside Distribution who kindly supplied me with two stunning Sigma Guitars for Johnny Cash Revisited last year when we were just getting the show together. They brought with them a display of Martin Guitars, which of course I had to have a go on... ALL of them. Although they were all stunning and great to play, as any guitarist would expect from a Martin, I fell immediately in love with a D45 model, which turned out to cost around £6000!! Obviously, at that price, I only bought that ONE as I make it a rule never to carry more than £7000 with me in cash on a night out. Nah!! Just kidding. It is certainly my new target instrument though. I want one! Once everyone was settled in, Bob Harris introduced John Carter Cash to the room on a small stage, barely big enough for the two chairs that they sat on. John Carter talked about his Dad and about his memories of the recording sessions for this album, Waylon dropping by and even hinted that there is much more to come from Johnny Cash including more live albums. He did assure everyone that he would NOT just release recording for the sake of it and that only things he is certain his Dad would’ve wanted released will get out. Apparently, Johnny Cash recorded a lot of material that Columbia Records didn’t know what to do with at the time (1981-1984) so it got shelved. Not because Johnny didn’t like it, or it wasn’t good enough, but because Columbia Records didn’t know how to support it. If this new album is an example then fans of Johnny Cash are in for a treat. They played a few tracks from Out Among The Stars, the first being a great new duet by Johnny and June (the title escapes me) and next, another duet, a storming version of Hank Snow’s I’m Moving On with Johnny sounding great singing with Waylon Jennings. Marty Stuart also features heavily playing guitar on this album and it’s a cracker. Can’t wait for it’s official release on 31st March.
After the Q and A session they played a few more tracks but the volume went down and I couldn’t hear properly over all the talking. It all sounded good though. John Carter Cash and I had our picture taken together and chatted a little more and I met brother and sister Marcus and Kirsty Bailey from Colchester, also friends of Steve Cherelle. We chatted about country music, sampled the free drinks and strange little pizza thingys (no idea what they really were) and then shared a tube ride back to Liverpool Street Station for some REAL food…. in McDonald’s!! Oh yeah, I know how to live! After that we checked the train times and found that Kirsty and Marcus had 6 minutes to wait. I, on the other hand, had about 18 seconds, which I spent running though the station towards my platform with the sound of their laughter behind me, where I eventually stood breathless and watching my train as it slowly rolled away from me.
Thank you Steve, Peter, Bob, Adrian, John Carter, Harriet, Johnny X, Marcus and Kirsty and of course Johnny Cash for making it a fun night.