Throw a dart at the Indiana map, and you'll likely hit a city where the legendary Johnny Cash played. Visiting Anderson, Angola, Muncie and Merrillville, Bloomington, Indy, Fort Wayne and South Bend, the rebellious country icon sure made multiple visits to the Hoosier state throughout his career, maintaining his loveable authenticity at every gig. Ultimately it's this charming trait to which Mo Foster has always been attracted.
"I like what he did when he was touring the prisons," says the upright bassist/backing vocalist in Indy's Shelby County Sinners. "He'd just travel and travel and play anywhere and everywhere. And, he'd always stop to talk to people."
- Image provided by Wayne Bertsch
The Shelby County Sinners will perform their renditions of Johnny Cash hits at Radio Radio this Friday evening.
This coming Friday (March 6th), Foster and the rest of the Shelby County Sinners will take part in yet another Cash Bash at Fountain Square's Radio Radio, paying homage to The Man in Black with a set of inspired Johnny Cash covers. Other local acts also performing at the event will include The Nosey Joe Band, The Cousin Brothers and The Breakes.
Although it hasn't always been with the Sinners, Foster has played at every Cash Bash since the event began at The Melody Inn more than 10 years ago. A longtime fan of Cash, he recalls enjoying the songwriter's music at a very young age.
"I can remember hearing. Johnny and June singing Jackson," Foster says. "I'd be sitting on the floor playing with my Hot Wheels, and that was on the radio. I remember singing that song all the time."
Years later, Foster got the opportunity to perform Jackson at a Cash Bash, putting his own heartfelt spin on the song alongside accompanying female vocalist and Indiana musician Mandy Marie Luke (who now lives in Austin, Texas). In the end, event organizer Wayne Bertsch hopes that all the Cash Bash 2015 bands can put their own flavor on Johnny Cash classics, too, just like Foster and Luke did.
Having recently taken over the event, Bertsch admits he's attended Cash Bash more times as an audience member than he has as an organizer. Author of NUVO's Barfly comic strip, Bertsch still has plenty of concert-booking know-how, considering he coordinates a pair of similar events in honor of Elvis Pressley (Elvis Birthday Bash) and Buck Owens (Buckaroo Bash). In booking a variety of local acts at all of his bashes, Bertsch doesn't worry about multiple bands covering the same song over the course of one night, because they all have their own approach to the music.
"At your traditional tribute show, everybody's gotta fight over who does what song," Bertsch says. "The beauty of doing it this way is if The Breakes do Folsom PrisonBlues, they'll make it sound like The Black Keys would. And then, The Cousin Brothers will come on right after them and do Folsom Prison Blues, and it'll sound like some kind of sped up song that would've been in a montage for the Beverly Hillbillies."
- Photo provided by Wayne Bertsch
Andre Faye and The Rays rocking 2014's Cash Bash.
In the same way that all kinds of bands are drawn to Cash's music, the country star's versatile sound also attracts music fans of all varieties, according to Bertsch. He believes that's why the Cash Bash has remained successful for so many years.
"It appeals to the country crowd. It appeals to the rockabilly crowd. Johnny was a rebel so there are punk people that are there," Bertsch says. "I think even people that don't like country like Johnny."
Looking ahead to another year of Cash Bash, Foster is excited to take the stage. In a similar fashion to his country music idol, though, he's also anticipating his time off the stage too.
"I get in there and I just talk to people all night long," he concludes. "I like to go table-hop. I meet new people all the time. That's my thing."
For more information on Cash Bash 2015, visit the Radio Radio website.