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September 5, 2013

Channeling the Man in Black and Fab Four zeitgeist

Tribute bands honor Johnny Cash, Beatles during BOP events

PLATTSBURGH — Harold Ford channels “The Man in Black.”

He looks like Johnny Cash. He sounds like Johnny Cash.

Ford is 100 percent Ford but, eerily, he’s given Cash and Carter fans a live taste of what they’ve been missing in The Spirit of Johnny Cash: Harold Ford, Laura Lucy & The Cash Band. The group performs Friday, Sept. 13, on the steps of City Hall during the Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration.

The Cash thing started as a result of an open mike at 111 in Greenwich, N.Y., four years ago.

“It holds a hundred people,” said Ford, who grew up in Poestenkill, N.Y.

“It was packed. I went up with my guitar by myself. It wasn’t like I was a fanatic about Cash. I loved everybody. I grew up in a musical family. I used to ride my bike 10 miles to hear a musical.”

That fateful night at 111, Ford sang “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Ring of Fire.”

He wasn’t prepared for the full impact that has taken him from British Columbia to the Deep South.

“It’s been constant,” Ford said. “Nobody would believe how fast the word spread about this thing, about this thing that was so extraordinary. I started getting calls from hundreds of top musicians.”

The Cash Band is Sten Isachsen (lead guitar), Peter Maine (drummer), Mitch Throop (bassist) and Les Wheeler (rhythm guitar).

“My lead guitarist has a master’s in guitar,” Ford said. “My drummer worked with Roseanne Cash and her husband for two years. The bass player is a veteran of three international tours.”

Lucy is June to Ford’s Johnny. 

“She’s a friend,” Ford said. “We looked high and low. She was right there all the time. She said, ‘Can I try to audition?’ I said, ‘Sure.’”

Lucy did a song in a different style than the late June Carter Cash. Ford told Lucy to go back and listen to June.

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