Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Music · Man in black/ Shawn Baker
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Man in black/ Shawn Baker

Kristi Kates - June 7th, 2010
Man in Black :Shawn Barker Gets Rhythm as Johnny Cash
By Kristi Kates
“I’ve always been a Johnny Cash fan, as were my dad and grandpa,” musician Shawn Barker says of his “Man in Black” tribute show. “Johnny Cash grew up in the same area of Arkansas as my dad’s family. Growing up, I remember visiting my dad’s side of the family and hearing Johnny being played a lot on the radio and record player; I love Johnny’s voice, and the way his songs tell a story. I also love the way he always let the music speak for itself.”
Barker, who was born and raised in St. Louis and still lives there today when he’s not traveling, began his interest with music in school, with his first performance experience as a line drummer with the school band in 8th grade. In high school, he sang with local cover bands and learned the guitar; later, his Elvis-like good looks drew him into performing at Elvis tribute shows.
“I really loved his music, and thought he was so cool, so it fit for me,” Barker says.
That ‘good fit’ led to Barker traveling around the U.S. for a few years, performing at Elvis tribute shows, and even winning the Elvis tribute contest at the Gibson Showcase in Nashville. Then, things took an even more interesting turn.

ELVIS TO CASH
“About six years ago, a casting director for the musical “The Million Dollar Quartet” (a stage play built around an impromptu jam session between Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins) heard about me and asked if I wanted to audition for the part of Elvis,” Barker explains, “he also suggested that I audition for the Johnny Cash part. I worked on the Cash character, and went to Hollywood to audition.... and I was cast as Johnny Cash.”
Barker would spend the next four months traveling back and forth to Hollywood, doing script readings and working on the Cash part for his role in the musical. During that same time period, the ambitious singer kept doing his Elvis shows.
One fateful January night in a chilly northern Wisconsin venue, Barker and his touring mates all got terrible colds, with no one being able to sing. Barker offered to perform as Johnny Cash instead of Elvis (“because I thought I could sing the lower notes,” he explains.) The crowd went crazy at Barker’s Cash tribute, and the opportunities changed yet again for the singer.
“My now-manager recorded my segment of the show (as Cash) and put a demo together to upload to his website,” Barker explains, “incredibly, we immediately had 10 bookings to do the Cash tribute, including the Trump Casino in Atlantic City. We sat down and wrote the script, and never looked back.”
Although this meant that Barker had to withdraw from his Broadway part in “The Million Dollar Quartet” - which has gone on to successful runs in Chicago and New York - the Cash part seems to suit him, and he’s flourished in it.
“I don’t really consider myself a Johnny Cash tribute artist, although that’s what I’ve been called,” Barker says, “I look at myself now as more of a singer and actor playing a role.”

FROZEN IN TIME
Barker’s performance as Johnny Cash today takes the audience back to “seeing” what Johnny Cash’s shows were like back in the early ‘60s, and offer glimpses into other facets of the Man in Black’s career, as well.
“The show really is a frozen moment in time,” Barker explains, “however, we also cover all aspects of Johnny’s career, from the early Sun Records days through his later work with Rick Rubin. I stay in the Cash character for most of the show, telling stories about the music and about his life.”
Barker performs with a full four-piece band and a backup singer, Jilla Webb, who sings harmony and covers the vocals parts of June Carter for several duets, although Barker stresses that she wasn’t “cast” as June Carter.
“Everyone dresses in black,” he continues, “and I wear the signature black suits that Johnny wore.”
For Barker, though, this isn’t merely a way to make a quick buck because of his visual resemblance and vocal abilities. Barker emphasizes that he is a Johnny Cash fan, and has a huge amount of respect for what Cash did for music.
“The show is definitely done in honor of Johnny Cash’s music and career,” he says, “If there wasn’t as big a demand, I wouldn’t be touring each year doing the show; but I would definitely still have some of Johnny’s music in any performance that I was doing.”

CHALLENGES AND REWARDS
One of the best things that’s happened to him during this experience, Barker says, was performance-based, as well; he was able to actually work with one of the members of Johnny Cash’s band.
“A couple of years ago, I was asked by Jonathan Holiff, the son of Johnny’s manager Saul Holiff, to perform with W.S. ‘Fluke’ Holland (Johnny Cash’s drummer from 1960 through the ‘90s) at a special 40th anniversary concert at Folsom Prison,” Barker explains, “unfortunately, the show was cancelled at the last minute, but we were still able to arrange to have W.S. join our show in Las Vegas; he was a great guy, and we are still friends today.”
And one of the most challenging?
“I think everything about it is difficult,” Barker ponders, “I have worked very hard on my voice, and mannerisms. I work on it every day. It’s always a work in progress. Johnny was one of a kind, and I don’t think I will ever be close to what he really was. His voice, stage presence and the way he delivered a song was so unique. We work very hard to be as close to the original as we can, and I believe we are very good at it, but no one will be able to duplicate what he did. I love everything about this show, though - the band, the music, the people, being on stage, all of it.”
“Being on the road for six years is hard work, but rewarding,” he smiles, “and at the end of the night, there is nothing I would rather be doing.”

The Man in Black Show: A Tribute to Johnny Cash starring Shawn Barker, will take place at Traverse City’s Ground Zero on Friday, June 11. It will be Barker’s first Traverse City appearance. Doors open at 7 p.m., show begins at 8 p.m.; advance tix are $10 plus handling charges. Find out more and purchase tickets at www.groundzeroonline.com

 
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