Jack Quist is Jackson Cash in a tribute show to the Man in Black
December 17, 2013
Throughout the past few years, Utahn Jack Quist has made a name for himself with his Johnny Cash tribute show, Jackson Cash.
In 2011, Quist, performed the show at the Egyptian Theatre and has been asked to return both years since.
Beginning Friday, Dec. 20, Quist, a founding member of Cowjazz, a country-rock band that played in Salt Lake during the late 70s and early 80s, will perform as Jackson Cash for his third three-night run at the Egyptian.
The singer and songwriter, who even sounds like Johnny Cash when he talks on the phone, said he is looking forward to the Egyptian shows.
"We get a lot of old fans from Cowjazz that come to these performances," Quist said during an interview with The Park Record. "So we throw some old Cowjazz tunes in the mix as well as some old Waylon Jennings songs, too. Of course, we get a lot of Johnny Cash fans."
Quist said the performances are hinged on the songs by the Man in Black, and to keep the shows fresh, he and his band are constantly deciding which new songs to play from that expansive catalogue.
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"We are learning some new songs for the set as we speak," Quist said. "I’ve also written some original stuff as well, so the upcoming shows should be pretty fresh."
Quist writes his songs in Cash’s famous boom-chicka-boom beats, and puts down whatever catches his fancy.
"Inspiration just depends on what gets me," he said. "It can be a broken heart or a new love or a personal problem that I’m going through."
When writing these songs, Quist feels the more truthful he is, the better the song can become.
"I don’t have a problem revealing too much of what I’m going through when I write and sing these songs," he said "It’s all part of the songwriting process.
"There should be a list of new songs, both originals and by Johnny Cash, that we will play during the shows," Quist said.
Quist’s fascination with words came when he was in kindergarten.
"I started writing poetry before I started writing songs," he said. "I don’t know what made me do it or inspired me. I just started doing it when I was really young."
After learning a truck-full of Johnny Cash songs, it’s hard for Quist to pick out his favorite.
"It changes depending on how long I’ve been playing and singing, you know?" he said. "Sometimes I love a song and can’t get enough of it, but other times, I get tired of it."
To this day, however, one of the songs that he keeps going back to is "Cocaine Blues."
That was the song he performed in a talent show while he was a student at Olympus Jr. High.
"We won a contest playing that song, but also got kicked out of school for singing it," he said with a laugh. "The students loved that we sang it, but the parents and teachers weren’t too happy because of what it was about. So to appease them, the principle suspended us for three days."
The upcoming Park City shows will feature Quist with a full band — guitarist, drummer, and upright bassist.
"We rehearse as much as we can at our guitarist’s house in Lehi," Quist said. "These guys are part-time musicians and they’re doing the family thing, but they are the best players that I have found in a long time.
"It’s still hard to find full-time musicians, because it is a challenge making a living out of that," he said. "I’m a full-time musician, which means I’m usually broke."
Still, Quist is a musician who cannot stop thinking about music.
"The soul has always been there," he said. "It won’t stop me from playing."
Another reason why he continues to present the Johnny Cash tribute shows happened a few years ago in when Quist traveled to Branson, Mo., to find work.
"I went in to buy some night crawlers at Walmart and the elderly greeter stopped me and told me that I needed to go to televangelist Jim and Lori Bakker’s TV station down the street," Quist said. "He told me that the Bakkers were getting ready to film Cash’s little sister, Joanne, singing her gospel songs."
Quist walked into the station and was greeted with open arms.
"Someone said I looked like Johnny and asked me to sing," he said. "I sang ‘I Still Miss Someone,’ which, unbeknownst to me, was Joanne’s favorite song."
Joanne Cash began singing harmonies with Quist and told everyone that Quist could have been her long lost brother.
"She stopped just short of saying I was the bastard son of Johnny Cash," Quist said. "If you don’t believe me, you can check it out on YouTube."
Jack Quist will perform as Jackson Cash at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., on Friday, Dec. 20, through Sunday, Dec. 22. The Friday and Saturday performances will begin at 8 p.m. and Sunday’s will start at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $23 to $38 and are available by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.