IF YOU GO
■ What: 12th annual Johnny Cash Birthday Bash.
■ When: 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22.
■ Where: Rhythm & Brews, 221 Market St.
■ Admission: $10.
■ Phone: 423-267-4644.
■ Website: www.rhythmbrews.com.
THE GUEST LIST
■ The Davey Smith Band (Chattanooga) — www.reverbnation.com/DaveySmith
■ Nathan Farrow (Chattanooga) — www.nathanfarrow.com
■ Anthony Sims (Chattanooga) — www.reverbnation.com/AnthonySims
■ Molly Sue Gonzalez & The Mean, Mean Men (Nashville) — www.mollysuegonzalez.com
■ The Royal Hounds(Knoxville) — www.royalhounds.org
With his cave-deep vocals, locomotive rhythm and an outlaw attitude that flicked a middle finger at the mainstream, Johnny Cash won his way into the ranks of elite musicians whose work and influence long outlast their death.
As a result, the country is rife with tributes to the Man in Black. Locally, the Johnny Cash Birthday Bash has been celebrating his legacy with an annual concert since his death in 2003.
The brainchild of now-defunct local rockabilly quartet The Tennessee Rounders, the Bash will return for its 12th run at Rhythm & Brews on Saturday, Feb. 22, four days before what would have been Cash's 82nd birthday.
This year's bill features a mix of locals and out-of-towners who cite the Man in Black among their influences, including Chattanoogans Davey Smith, Nathan Farrow and Anthony Sims, Knoxville rockabilly trio The Royal Hounds and Nashville's Molly Sue Gonzalez & The Mean, Mean Men.
Farrow has been on the lineup for five Bashes, and he says the tribute is a special moment for Cash's fans, regardless of whether they're onstage or in the audience.
"He's had such an influence on our careers as musicians," he says. "I get more excited about this one than the majority of shows we do. It's definitely one of the top shows I get to do every year."
Each act will play individual sets of 30 to 45 minutes, with an extra-long set reserved for Smith, who has taken over stewardship of the tribute.
For many Cash fans, Farrow says, the Bash is a gold-star evening they look forward to every year, a chance to celebrate the legacy of an artist whose impact on music is still being felt.
"His music is more real-life than most music," he says. "I think it bridges a lot of generations, too. People can relate to it, young and old.
"I like the realness of it and that [he and his band] were against the grain in their time. I've tried to do that myself, to not be so mainstream and do something a little different."
Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...