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Johnny Cash's music lives on through Cash Tribute

By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
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A love of Johnny Cash and his music is what drives the lead singer of a local tribute band. According to James Garner, Cash’s music has always been a passion. “I recently had a birthday and someone sent me a photograph taken of me in seventh grade and I’m holding a Johnny Cash (album),” said the 33-year-old Galt resident. Garner grew up in the Central Valley on a farm in Hanford. He attended Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo. “I studied ag science,” he said. “I wanted to be an ag teacher. I met my wife (in college).” He ended up working for The Dolphin Group, focusing on dairy farmers and their needs when it comes to water, air quality and the environment. “We want to be good stewards,” Garner said. Music is his creative outlet. “My job is very stressful,” he said. “Generally, (our music) makes people happy. There are no worries.” The Cash Tribute band started in 2007 and Garner tries to keep his name as low as possible on promotional material. “It’s really featuring the whole band,” he said. “That’s why it’s called Cash Tribute featuring James Garner. The musicianship is fantastic. It’s about the people around me.” He said even after four years of playing together, they are still striving to hit every note in every song, to make the music sound authentic. “We want to get it right,” he said. “We really approach it trying to get it as accurate as we can. We are continually seeking to improve. I’m a Johnny Cash nerd (and) I approach (the music) out of respect of him. People want to hear the real deal, not someone’s interpretation or individual take on Johnny Cash.” The band now has a promoter, Starbright Productions, working with them. “I’ve been promoting events for 15 years,” said John Zurflueh. “I was introduced to this band a few years ago. Being an avid Cash fan myself, I contacted them and did (an) event at a winery in Nevada County. It sold out.” He said he was an instant fan. “We I heard this guy sing and I heard the music, I was blown away by it,” Zurflueh said. “The most difficult part is conveying to people how phenomenal the band is and what a great performer and singer (Garner) is. I think they are really special.” Those attending are advised to bring lawn chairs and blankets. No coolers are allowed. Sodas, beer and wine, as well as snacks, will be sold to benefit the El Dorado County Fair. Jody Gray, CEO of the county fair, said the concession sales greatly benefit the fair’s nonprofit organization. She’s also excited about the performance. “The Tribute Band played in Georgetown last month and we have only heard rave reviews from that event,” Gray said. “We are looking forward to their show here. The Fair Association, a 501 c 3 will be the concessionaire selling the beverages — beer, wine, sodas and waters — and packaged snacks at our Capital Bar.” She said funds raised by the bar help pay for repairs, such as the new roof, gutters and paint job being done on the Mark D. Forni Building, their large exhibit hall. “The building sprung a bad leak late last fall,” she said. “We would have had to take out a loan to cover the expense, if it were not for the Capital Bar and the volunteers that work the bar.” * * * KNOW AND GO What: Cash Tribute featuring James Garner When: 6 p.m., Friday Where: El Dorado County Fairgrounds, 100 Placerville Drive, Placerville Cost: $20 advance, $25 at gate, no credit cards Seating: Bring a lawn chair and blanket. Coolers are not allowed. Tickets: Available at the fairgrounds office; California Welcome Center, 2085 Vine St., Suite 105, El Dorado Hills; Handley’s Western Wear, 314 E. Bidwell St., Folsom; El Dorado Hills Music, 873 Embarcadero Drive, Suite 1 Online: cashtribute.net