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Burning it up with Ring of Fire

Elmira music lovers should be getting ready to “Walk the Line” on Saturday night at the Elmira Legion.

Marty Allen and the Memphis Three will be in town performing their Johnny Cash tribute show, Ring of Fire, and Allen says the show has a personal aspect to it.

“I sing at his range, so it fits,” he said. “I was always a fan and I was never big on tributes, but his songs always meant a lot to me. I think I would have a hard time doing a tribute if I wasn’t right into it.”

The show starts at 8 p.m. on May 14, and will feature a lot of Cash’s biggest hits including “Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison” and “Man in Black.” The three piece band backing up Allen will be playing their parts as close to Cash’s original band as possible.

“Kenny Lee, he is on the upright bass. The drummer is Mike McDowell. They play with me in my regular band as a three piece, but we have another guitar player, Jeff Brown, who does all of the parts that Luther Perkins used to do for Johnny Cash,” says Allen. “He is what propelled the music. Cash just kind of beat the rhythm guitar and held a good rhythm, and Perkins does the boom chicka boom part of the songs.”

The show isn’t just for Cash fans, he says. He also tries to cater the set list to who is in the audience.

“I think we cover a lot of the bigger hits, and some stuff from early Sun Records when he just started like ‘Folsom Prison’ and ‘Walk the Line,’” he said. “Especially if there are younger people in the audience, he had that later part in his life when he worked with Rick Rubin as a producer and he did ‘Hurt.’ That always seems to go over well. I was kind of hesitant at first in playing it, but you generally get a good reaction. Sometimes it is just one reaction, but it is very strong. They seem somehow emotionally tied to the song.”

Allen says the band wants to do Cash justice, playing his tunes as he would have.

“I think the audience is going to get a good replication of the music,” he said. “We have the standup bass, and we try to deliver an energetic show as well. Some of the songs aren’t always fast and dynamic, but the dynamic comes from the delivery as well, even if it is at mid tempo. It is kind of a bit of a force. We try to replicate how he was on stage with the music being really pronounced, and it is moving. It was simple music. When they recorded it, it was very basic, but there was that power of his voice, and the simplicity of the backing. Sometimes, simple worked so well, if it is done well. We just replicate the show in a pretty authentic way, I believe, with the upright bass, and try to get every member in their part in replicating who they are performing as.”

The show starts up at 8 p.m. on May 14 at the Elmira Legion. Tickets are $20, and can be purchased by calling 519-669-3932 or 905-325-5704. They are also available for purchase in person at the Legion building on Thursday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m., and Saturday starting at 12 p.m.

A little more local for your inbox.

Seven days. One newsletter. Local reporting about people and places you
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