Preview of Roadshow Revival 2015, and
Flashback to Roadshow Revival 2014
The seventh annual “Roadshow Revival: A Tribute to the Music of Johnny Cash” rave-up takes over Mission Park in downtown Ventura the weekend of June 27-28, 2015, with a lineup headlined by Robert Gordon and the Reverend Horton Heat on Saturday, and John Doe, The Blasters and Billy Joe Shaver on Sunday.
Cash lived in the Ventura area (Casitas Springs) in the early ’60s, during one of the wildest phases of the hard-living rockabilly-country legend’s life. He was already a superstar, first recording for Sun Records in Memphis and then Columbia. But his first marriage (to Vivian) was unraveling and he’d developed a serious pill problem.
He eventually relocated to Nashville, married June Carter in 1967, cleaned up his act, to an extent, and adopted the persona of the “Man in Black,” wearing all-black clothing as his way of protesting America’s war in Vietnam.
Johnny Cash in 1969. Photo: Joel Baldwin/Look.
Along with top country artists, “The Johnny Cash Show” in the late 1960s and early ’70s presented artists like Waylon Jennings and Linda Ronstadt on national TV early in their careers. Other guests included Bob Dylan, and even Derek & The Dominos, fronted by Eric Clapton and Bobby Whitlock.
Cash mellowed somewhat in his later years. His final recordings, sparsely produced by Rick Rubin, displayed raw emotion and deep insight. Cash died in 2003, at the age of 71, but his legacy looms large, and Ventura proudly considers him almost a native son.
Johnny Cash Roadshow Revival 2015 Preview
Along with the touring festival’s headliners, the Roadshow Revival lineup in Ventura includes local bands, such as Hard Six, that also count Cash and his music as prime influences on their own sound. Hard Six played the Roadshow’s main stage last year as well and was invited to encore in 2015.
The first six Johnny Cash Roadshow Revivals in Ventura were single-day affairs, but the festival has quickly grown into one of the Southern California coastal city’s biggest events, and expands to a double-day deal for the seventh.
Along with the two full days of music – mainly rockabilly, outlaw country and American roots-rock inspired by Cash and other originators from the 1950s – on two stages, the pop culture retro-fest also features a pin-up contest, custom car, hot rod and bike competitions, and a kids’ play area. Scores of vendors hawk food, clothing, music and tons of rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle accessories.
Gates at Mission Park are open Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Daytime temperatures in the upper 70s are forecast. Organizers urge concertgoers to wear sunscreen, hats and protective clothing.
Roadshow Revival 2015 Artist Lineup
Saturday, June 27
Get Rhythm (Main Stage)
- Big River
- Hard Six
- Slim Jim Phantom Band
- Jamie James & The Kingbees
- RSR – Million-Dollar Quartet
- Robert Gordon
- Reverend Horton Heat
Hey Porter (Second Stage)
- Zippy Josh & The Ragtag Band
- The Walking Phoenixes
- 50 Sticks of Dynamite
- Gambler’s Mark
Sunday, June 28
Get Rhythm (Main Stage)
- The Walking Phoenixes
- Big Tweed
- Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys
- John Doe (of X)
- The Blasters
- Billy Joe Shaver
Hey Porter (Second Stage)
- Matt Armor
- Petunia & The Vipers
- The Vonettes
- Just Dave Band
- Highway Starr
- Medicine Hat
For all the Roadshow Revival 2015 details, and to purchase tickets, visit the festival’s Facebook page.
Roadshow 2014 Flashback
The sixth annual “Roadshow Revival: A Tribute to the Music of Johnny Cash” in 2014 was a single-day beachfront blowout headlined by East L.A.’s favorite sons, Los Lobos, on Saturday, June 14. The crowd numbered a couple thousand fans, packing both the performance area and an adjacent street lined on both sides by vendors’ booths.
The “Get Rhythm” main stage lineup featured (in order of appearance) Snake Oil Salesmen, The Cold Hard Cash Show, Hard Six, James Intveld, Robert Hilburn (author of the best-selling “Johnny Cash: The Life” biography), The Paladins, Dale Watson & His Lone Stars, Jonny Two Bags of Social Distortion, and Los Lobos.
Rocking the “Hey Porter” second stage were The Mighty Cash Cats Jr., The Americans, The Walking Phoenixes, Theresa Spanke and Gambler’s Mark.
During the afternoon, this reporter had the opportunity to speak with a few of the artists, and with Hilburn, the longtime Los Angeles Times pop music critic turned biographer, about their affinity for Johnny Cash.
(Hilburn was also one of the author’s early mentors in the mid-1970s.)
Transcripts follow, with links to the audio files on Soundcloud (click on the interviewee’s name).
Roadshow 2014: Robert Hilburn
When I caught up with Robert Hilburn at Roadshow 2014, he was sitting at a table signing copies of his Cash biography for fans. He had just run out of books and had to go to his car to get more. I volunteered to help and we talked along the way.
Robert Hilburn: I was surprised to be here because I didn’t plan on coming, but Ross (Emory of Ross Emery Entertainment), who put this festival together, invited me to come. He said, “Why don’t you come, bring your books, talk to the fans and sign books?” And I said, “Okay, that sounds like fun.” I thought it’d be an adventure, and it is. It’s been a wonderful day.
Peeples: What did you think about getting up onstage? That’s kind of weird for you.
Hilburn: I think I kind of blacked out. I don’t know quite what happened. I’ve been to 10,000 concerts, but always in the audience when they’re doing a show. When I actually got there, people were expecting music. I thought they were going to say, “ ‘F’ you, get off stage, let’s hear some music,” but they were very nice.
Peeples: You were telling them some stories about your encounters with Johnny.
Hilburn: I was actually at Folsom Prison, which is hard to believe, in 1968 when he did that landmark concert. I was just starting at the L.A. Times. I wanted to do a story to impress them, so I said to the editors there, “How about me doing a story about the man who wrote ‘Folsom Prison’ and sang ‘Folsom Prison’ in Folsom Prison?” I thought it was a great idea.
They said, “No, we don’t want to give any space to that drug addict.” That was his reputation, but I finally talked them into going. I turned out to be the only music writer at Folsom because the record company, knowing his reputation, didn’t want to invite anybody. They were afraid he’d show up stoned and then they’d have to cancel the concert. But it was a great concert.
Peeples: It was a real piece of history. That, among other things, is a big piece of your book.
Hilburn: Yeah. It was a starting point. And Stephen, it was fascinating [writing] that book, because I thought I knew Cash. I wrote about him over the years at the L.A. Times, but when I started writing the book, I realized I wasn’t within 50 miles of knowing Johnny Cash’s life. There’s so little we really know about celebrities. We know what they choose to tell us, but boy, when you start looking at their lives and talking to people around them – family members, musicians – it’s a whole different world. It makes you respect Cash more because of all he went through. He had much darker, much more demons than we imagined.
Peeples: I read a story that he used to live [near] Ojai for a while and he ran a car into a ditch. He came over to Port Hueneme [Naval Base] to get a vehicle to dig him out. One of my [former] coworkers’ dad was the guy who dug him out, who pulled his car out of a ditch in a rainstorm.
Hilburn: That kind of stuff was happening all the time. [There was] a tractor he drove over a cliff, and he was racing cars down highways and trying to outrun the police. He really had some wild, wild times in that period. He liked Ventura, and he might still have been living here at the end of his life, but the family fell apart and he had to get away from it all. He went to Nashville. If the marriage stayed together, he might have stayed here.
Peeples: Thanks for your time.
Roadshow 2014: Fel Torres of The Cold Hard Cash Show
Stephen K. Peeples: You’re based in Missoula, Montana…and you’re on the road here?
Fel Torres: Yes.
Peeples: What’s the stop at the Roadshow Revival mean to you?
Peeples: What is it about Johnny Cash that appeals to you guys?
Torres: Everything. Lyrically, we can relate to everything he wrote. Musically, it’s incredible. It’s got everything.
Peeples: What is it, attitude? Sound? The whole cultural thing?
Torres: Every single bit of it, honestly. It’s the sound of our childhood. Lot of memories based on Johnny Cash music.
Peeples: When was the first time you heard Johnny Cash?
Torres: Me? I was probably around 10 years old or younger.
Peeples: Do you remember what tune it was?
Torres: No, but I remember going on hunting trips – lots of Johnny Cash, lots of Ricky Nelson and all that stuff.
Peeples: You went with your dad?
Peeples: Where do you guys go from here?
Torres: San Clemente is our next show, at the O.C. Tavern.
Roadshow 2014: Fuse of Hard Six
Stephen K. Peeples: You guys just wrapped up a really cool set. How was that?
Fuse: We had a lot of fun playing with a lot of great bands, looking out there and seeing that huge crowd, and of course they’re all Johnny Cash fans like me, so I really felt a connection with all of these people. It was a blast. We really enjoyed it and feel very grateful to be here.
Peeples: You’re a local band in Ventura and this is a touring roadshow. It’s cool they pick up local bands that are in the same groove.
Fuse: That’s true, and we’re very happy that they did that because if you are a traveling roadshow, it’s a very classy thing to do to bring in local bands to help support the headlining acts, and it’s one that we very much appreciated. We were very fortunate in that we were the only local band to be put on the main stage with the headlining acts. Originally we were going to be on the local stage, but playing the main stage was very exciting for us.
Peeples: Very good. Real quickly, your first Johnny Cash memory?
Fuse: My mom saw Johnny Cash in the ’60s. [Years later,] I had to be about six years old, and I was already an Elvis fan, and she said, “Michael, you’re an Elvis fan. I bet you’d like Johnny Cash, too.” She told a story about how she went and saw him. There was a lot of people waiting in the room – it was a special show, there weren’t a lot of people there – and all of a sudden Johnny came into the room, and she said the whole room just lit up. She said he was just otherworldly. There was something special about him that she could see – he just lit up the entire room.
Now my four-year-old son, on his own without any prodding from me, says “Cry! Cry! Cry!” is his favorite song and sings it. We took him to karaoke and he sang that song by himself. It’s running in the family.
Peeples: Carry it on, pass it on to future generations.
Fuse: Oh, absolutely.
Peeples: This generation doesn’t know about Johnny…
Fuse: Kids these days especially need to know about Johnny and all the other bands that came before. I consider the stuff in those days – it was real. Johnny Cash was real, not created by a corporation. That’s different from now. What these kids are listening to now, some of it’s okay, but a lot of it is created for marketing. It’s very, very important to be able to hear this music.
Peeples: This is the root, this is where it came from.
Fuse: That’s absolutely right, and I think there’s a lot of bands out there today doing things they may not even know where they’re getting some of the things that they’re doing – that they were influenced originally by Johnny Cash and people from earlier times in people.
Peeples: I thought it was cool when you did a duet on “Jackson,” which was a Johnny-June [Carter Cash] thing.
Fuse: Yeah. My wife, DeeDee, sang the June Carter-Cash parts on that. It’s funny because when we got together, I didn’t even know she could sing, and I didn’t realize until I caught her singing background vocals to one of my CDs in her car. I said, “You ought to come and try to sing backing vocals with the band,” and that’s how it started.
Now we’ve got three Johnny-June songs we do, and “Jackson” is a great one. She’s so cute up there, the way she does her little act. People love it, and I think they like it because when she gets up there, the crowd really lights up.
Peeples: It beats just looking at a bunch of guys all the time.
Fuse: Absolutely. We are maybe not as pretty as we’d like to be (laughs).
Roadshow 2014: James Intveld
Stephen K. Peeples: James, welcome to Ventura. This is a big deal for you, yeah?
James Intveld: I’m very happy to be a part of this whole show and the Johnny Cash tribute. It’s important to me because I grew up listening to Johnny Cash, and this kind of music to me is in my heart. For me, to be able to be here and do this, it’s great. I’m really, really happy to be included.
Also, I’m happy to be here because it’s being done in California. They do Johnny Cash festivals and tributes like that all in the South, and I’m glad we can have one here now, too. I’ve been living in Nashville for the past eight years and it’s a whole different scene there than we have here in California, but I grew up here and I’m proud of being from California. I love coming back here and being able to do stuff and be involved. I want to promote California country music, so I’m happy to be here and see a bunch of my old friends on the bill as well. So far, it’s been a great night. I’m looking forward to hearing my friends play and celebrating together.
Peeples: Sounds good. Please tell me the band members’ names.
Intveld: On lead guitar, Storm Rhode.
Peeples: Is he really 21?
Intveld: He is not, but it really is his birthday. And that is his real name, actually. He’s Storm Rhode IV. His son is Storm Rhode V. Then I have Bob Gothard playing bass with us, who just had a car accident, so he was sitting with a leg brace on. We’ve got Boo Bernstein playing steel guitar with us. We’ve got Kip Dabbs playing drums with us. He’s been playing with me for 16-17 years now.
Most of the guys in this band have been playing with me on and off for the past 15 years, and we’ve had this band together for quite a while now. I’m really proud of the band and happy that we’re all still playing together. It’s great.
Peeples: It sounded great. You played a couple of songs from your second album. You’re working on another one?
Intveld: Yes. In fact, we are working on another one. I’m in town doing a film right now, actually, called “The Last Note,” and I’m acting in this film. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last three nights. I’ve been up playing a bunch of scenes, and I’m smoking in the film, so I’ve had to – you know, when you’re doing take after take – I’ve smoked probably about six packs of cigarettes in the last [three nights].
Peeples: They don’t give you those herbal cigarettes?
Intveld: Those don’t work very good. They don’t even look good on camera. The smoke looks weird. I also used to be a smoker for 30 years, so it’s better for me just to smoke real cigarettes [laughs]. But that many in a row… I quit four years ago, so we’re a little turned around. I got a little jet lag just from the fact that – not really jet lag, but – I’ve been working nights, going to bed at 10 in the morning. Right now I should be sleeping.
Peeples: But you were able to bring it this afternoon.
Intveld: Oh, cool, thank you. I hope so, for everybody’s sake. Like I said, I’m proud to be a part of this festival today.
Intveld: I did meet Johnny Cash. I met him in 1985, when they were cutting an album called “Class of ‘55.” They were doing it in Memphis and Nashville… or, I don’t think they went to Nashville. They cut it all around Memphis – Memphis Sound Recording, and he cut it at Sun Records.
At the time, they had invited Rick Nelson to be on it, so Rick was flying out there in his plane and taking my brother, because my brother was in his band, and they asked me to come along. So I got to go on that trip, and I was in the studio with all of the greats. It was Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.
There was plenty of time to hang out in the studio. I just walked over to Johnny Cash and introduced myself, and we started talking a little bit about a song that I had recorded called “You’re My Baby” that he had written, but hadn’t recorded. Roy Orbison recorded it back at Sun.
I asked if he had recorded it. He said, “Yeah. We did a demo on it.” This was back in ‘85, before people were doing all the reissued stuff where you can get everything now. He said, “I wrote a lot of songs back then for other people. I wasn’t really a rockabilly singer, so I wrote songs like ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Ruby’…”
He told me that he had written “Get Rhythm” for Elvis. He said, “I wrote that for Elvis. I couldn’t get it cut by Elvis, so Sam was like, ‘Just go ahead and cut it.’” So that’s why that’s kind of an upbeat Johnny Cash tune.
I got to hang out with him that day, and he was a sweet man. He was really cool and down to earth, unassuming, just exactly how you’d want it to be – how you wish some people were that you meet and go, “God, that guy is not really cool at all. He’s kind of an ass.” That wasn’t the case with Johnny Cash. He was the guy we thought he was. He was the same guy onstage and offstage.
There’s a photo of us from that day, and I’m proud to have that photo of me and him together, along with my brother and Carl Perkins.
Peeples: I’d love to get a copy of that for my story.
Intveld: Absolutely. I can send it to you. Send it to my email at james (at) jamesintveld.com. Remind me, “Hey, you need to send that photo of Johnny Cash and you,” and I’ll be happy to send it to you.
Intveld: This is the deal. It’s happened many times with The Blasters where Dave and Phil get back together to play. Dave Alvin has his own career; he’s a songwriter and artist in his own right. He does that, Phil does his own little side projects and once in a while they get together and play Blasters music.
I think they just did an album together of some Big Bill Broonzy songs. I think they were out playing some gigs… I don’t know, I’m gone a lot so I’m not up to speed on everything those guys are doing, but I do talk to Phil a lot. I think they’re doing that stuff together. Once in a while they’ll do Blaster stuff together, but for them to put The Blasters back together and make it a permanent thing, I don’t think that’s necessarily a reality.
Peeples: Last question. What’s going forward for you after the next album?
Intveld: Once the new album’s done, it’s going to be like it was when the “Have Faith” album came out. We have to hit the road and sell records and go see people. It’s going to be a lot of touring coming up here. We go to Europe a couple of times a year anyway, and we’re about to go again.
We’re going back to Nashville next week, I’m going to host the “Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree,” and then we’re going to Europe in July. When we get back from this European tour, we’re going to try to finish the record. We’ve already cut some of the album in Nashville, but I’m thinking about switching gears and cutting the record here in California.
I’m trying to spend more time out here because my folks live out here, and they’re getting up there in the years – they’re not driving anymore. So I’m trying to spend time with them. Nashville’s a pretty long haul away, and this way I can see them more.
Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos and James Intveld.
Peeples: Very good. You grew up here in California?
Intveld: I grew up in Compton.
Peeples: Where do your folks live now?
Peeples: Okay. Thank you for your time, James.
Roadshow 2014: David Hidalgo of Los Lobos
Stephen K. Peeples: What do you think about appearing at the Roadshow Revival?
Peeples: Like who?
Hidalgo: Like The Paladins, Jonny Two Bags, James Intveld, Dale Watson.
Peeples: He was great.
Hidalgo: He was amazing. He’s the real thing.
Peeples: So you guys celebrated your 40th anniversary last year. What’s coming up ahead?
Peeples: Got any cool Johnny Cash stories?
Hidalgo: I never got to meet him. I wish I had one. I love him, he inspires me. I wish I had met him.
Peeples: Okay, thanks, David.
Photos: (c) Stephen K. Peeples
Special thanks: Kat Merrick, Carlos Avila