4.3 C
Saturday, December 14, 2019
Connecting Our Communities

Tapping into the growing legend that is Johnny Cash


Restored Victorian home in Elmira the subject of TV competition

Along with the influx of visitors that comes with the holiday season, Elmira will see one new family...

News Briefs

Woolwich nixes traffic islands Displeased with the troublesome pedestrian islands installed during the Region of Waterloo’s reconstruction of Church Street...

Police out in force with RIDE programs through the holidays

With the holidays just weeks away, police have their festive RIDE program in full swing. Police services across...


Crime of the Week: December 9, 2019 Case#: 1704 Offence: Theft Date:...


light rain
4.3 ° C
6.1 °
2.2 °
100 %
90 %
5 °
2 °
-0 °
-0 °
-4 °

Jim Yorfido’s polished tribute show to the Man in Black rolls into Elmira Legion Saturday night

When Joaquin Phoenix donned the sunglasses and guitar to play Johnny Cash in 2005’s Walk the Line, it sparked a frenzy of renewed interest in the Man in Black. One man who started his tribute show just as the frenzy was dying down was Jim Yorfido – performing tonight (Saturday) at the Elmira Legion.

“All my friends were saying, ‘Hey man, you’re missing the boat,’ because everybody and his uncle was doing Johnny when the movie came out,” he laughs from his home in Fort Erie. “I said, ‘I don’t care if I missed the boat. I’m doing it because I like it, and if I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it good.’ Obviously it worked out, and only the good survive.”

Such wasn’t necessarily the case in 2006. “The legend had grown so big that you and my mother could go out and do Johnny and June, and you guys would fill the place,” says Yorfido.

“I remember there was a guy here in Fort Erie, he was naturally a John Denver tribute guy, but he was doing Johnny. … I remember his quote, he said, ‘I don’t really try to sound like Johnny, I just do the songs.’ We try to sound like him, and we do the songs.”

With his deep, full voice, Yorfido does indeed sound like Johnny Cash (although he says it’s his hair that originally had him pegged for the job). While Yorfido has been performing for years, and kept a few Johnny Cash songs in his repertoire, it was only in the last decade that he turned his attention on capturing Cash. Even before Walk the Line, Yorfido saw that Cash’s prodigious late-period output (notably his American albums with Rick Rubin) has heightened his profile.

“I didn’t even know they existed – I didn’t play for a while,” he says of the American series. “I get to this bar, and we’re setting up, and this young kid says, ‘Hey – you gonna do Johnny Cash?’ I’m thinking, ‘How does he know I do Johnny Cash?’ That’s when I started to realize there’s a whole new audience for Johnny.”

Unlike many iconic entertainers who can comfortably coast along on their songs from 40 years ago, Cash never stopped evolving. From the hellraiser who hung out with Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, to the Folsom and San Quentin Prison days, to the vulnerable, soulful late-period work, there’s been an enormous amount of shading in that freight train of a voice. Since his start in the 1950s, he generated 55 studio albums, two iconic live albums, and a steady stream of posthumous releases that rivals even Tupac.

“He just kept rolling – I’m still impressed,” says Yorfido. “Who the heck records that many songs? You have to learn them all, you can’t just record them. It’s incredible, his staying power and stamina in the business.”

Indeed, the past decade has seen a broadening of the public understanding of Cash, through Walk the Line as well as a revealing, bestselling 2013 biography by Robert Hillburn. “None of that was in the forefront when I was young,” says Yorfido. “You didn’t hear anything about his lifestyle, or the stories of how he wrote his music. There are a bunch of variables that you appreciate way more once you’re more mature, and you can see what the heck he really went through.”

What is it about Johnny Cash that fueled such a long career – and a mystique that continues well after his death in 2003?

“It’s all got to do with his charisma,” says Yorfido. “You can be yourself and you don’t really know how charismatic you are, but people were just drawn to him like crazy. Even doing the tribute, you can feel it when people talk to you. They know you’re not Johnny, but you’re as close as they’re getting tonight.”

“A Man in Black Tribute to Johnny Cash and June Carter” will hit the Elmira Legion (11 First St. E.) Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30, and can be booked ahead of time by calling 519-669-2932.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.


Embracing the trappings of the season, writ large

A local decorator has transformed her Wellesley property into a winter wonderland, carrying on a decade-long tradition for a good cause. The final product is truly a festive sight, featuring...

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

Talking sports, and then some

If you’re looking for an in-depth analysis of major sports leagues, the On the Rise podcast has got you covered.

Wellesley Applejacks win lone game of the weekend

The Wellesley Applejacks got back on track with a win over the Mounties in Paris on Saturday night, making up for a pair...

The trek south was long and gruelling, but they’ll do it again

It was a long haul complete with many hurdles, but having completed the 4,300-kilometre ultra-marathon last month, organizers are already planning for the next...

Kings take two of three in a busy weekend schedule

It was a mixed bag for the Sugar Kings, who won two out of their three games during a busy weekend that saw...

Christmas is definitely a spectacle in this show

Requiring the efforts of several performing groups and a host of singers, dancers and musicians, the Yuletide Spectacular Christmas show offers up everything short...
- Advertisement -