Jack Quist tips his hat to the Man in Black
November 20, 2012
When Salt Lake City native Jack Quist was pursuing a music career, he moved to Branson, Mo., to be a Johnny Cash impersonator.
In 1996, Quist, a former member of the Utah-based band Cow Jazz, had the opportunity to meet his idol and was struck speechless.
"Johnny filled the room, because he had so much charisma," Quist said during an interview with The Park Record. "I mean, he was only six foot one, but when he sings it’s like he grows 10 feet."
Because he was so nervous, Quist doesn’t remember a lot from that meeting, but said Cash made him laugh.
"He was funny and wonderful," Quist said. "I felt like I was in the presence of some kind of god. He was a special person."
Quist hopes to bring some of those special vibes with him when he brings his "Jackson Cash: A Tribute to the Man in Black" to the Egyptian Theatre for a three-show run on Friday, Nov. 23, Saturday, Nov. 24 and Sunday, Nov. 25.
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This isn’t the first time the Egyptian has hosted the show. Quist performed at the venue last February.
"Park City was the best concert I have ever done," Quist said. "It was phenomenal and that’s why we’re coming back, and we’re even going to do a video shoot."
Quist’s desire to create a Johnny Cash tribute show was fueled by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Country Hall of Fame inductee’s lyrics and the voice.
"Well, I could sound like him," Quist said with a laugh. "It didn’t take a lot of work to do that, and I look like him, too, so that was easy. But his lyrics came from inside himself. He was a realist and I liked the where he was coming from.
"In a lot of ways we were alike," Quist said. "I could relate to his songs and I could really feel that I wasn’t alone in my own struggles, because he had them, as well."
There are too many songs to choose from, so Quist can’t say he has a favorite.
"I like them all," he said. "I like the songs he wrote years ago and the new songs he recorded towards the end of his life. He is known for his prison songs, but he also wrote some beautiful love songs, too."
Quist said Cash, who passed away in 2003 was one of the greatest writers that ever lived.
"If you ever want to read a really good book, read his autobiography ("Cash: The Autobiography")," Quist said. "There is some great writing there."
Although Quist can perform a nice collection of Cash, he wants to learn more.
"I don’t have as many songs in my rep as I’d like to," he said. "I would like to do some more of the recent songs he did like ‘Rusty Cage’ and songs like that.
"When I was in Branson, I wasn’t able to learn all the ones I wanted because I was so busy just trying to promote the show," Quist said. "These days, it’s hard to process a lot because my brain does memorize like it used to, that’s for sure. It never did do really well, but now it’s really hard."
Still, Quist knows he needs to fill a set list with a well-balanced collection of tunes, and those songs include some of his originals.
"There are many Johnny and June Carter Cash songs that I have to keep in the set, and I’ve written some songs that are in the same style and sound like Johnny," he said. "I can’t fit everything in."
When Quist writes his own songs, he envisions Cash singing.
"I have 10 or so that are finished," he said. "I have a lot more that are half done. The biggest problem is that I don’t have the time to finish them.
"I would like to record some of the songs, but I don’t have the money to do that, yet, either," Quist said.
Backing Quist at the Egyptian Theatre will be a band, including lead guitarist Shane Lee and drummer John Hay Harris, which is dubbed A Band Named Sue in tribute to the song "A Boy Named Sue," written by poet Shel Silverstein and recorded by Cash in 1969.
"The band is younger than I am and have more energy than me, which helps pick things up, thank goodness," Quist said. "You have to see them to believe them."
Jack Quist will bring his "Jackson Cash: A Tribute to the Man in Black" Johnny Cash tribute show to the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 23 and Nov. 24, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 25 at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $20 to $35 and are available at http://www.parkcityshows.com.