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Cash tribute started as childhood fascination
Terry Lee Goffee reckons he was about six or seven years old, growing up in Cambridge, Ohio, when his father brought home a Johnny Cash record and put it on the family victrola.
And he'll never forget it.
"I heard this sound coming out the speakers. It caught my attention and it just never left it," Goffee, who's now 65 and the creator of the "Train of Love: A Tribute to Johnny Cash" touring show, says by phone from his current home in Wellington, Ohio.
"It just made some kind of an impression on me that over the years became almost a part of my being. It just kind of took up residency in there. So I was a lifelong fan from that moment on."
Goffee played in bands and acted and spent time as a radio DJ before launching "Train of Love" in 2002. The show incorporates all of those disciplines, with narration and, Goffee intends, insight into Cash's character and creativity. "It's not just me standing up there singing one song after the other," he explains.
"I decided I wanted to actually become the character and portray Johnny in the first person so people come away not only enjoying the music but getting a little bit of insight into who Johnny Cash was as a person and how some of the songs came together."
Goffee plays 50-70 shows a year and has watched audiences grow from "90 percent older folks" into a generation-spanning crowd. The 2005 Cash biopic "Walk The Line" helped pique interest, he says, as has the endorsement of Cash's brother, Tommy, and sister Joanne Cash Yates. Cash's son John Carter Cash has also come out to see the show, as has staff from the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville. He was also tapped to provide moves and voiceovers for the Johnny Cash avatar in Guitar Hero 5.
As for the educational aspect of "Train of Love," Goffee finds himself still clearing up one misconception about the Man in Black for fans. "Even at this juncture, there are still people who believe that Johnny Cash actually served time, not just in the local county jail but actually went to prison," Goffee says with a laugh. "I make it a point to mention that he never did.
"I've had people argue wtih me -- 'You sure about that?' Yeah, I'm sure. You're not gonna find many people who know more about (Cash) than me."
Terry Lee Goffee in "Train of Love: A Tribute To Johnny Cash"
8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15.
Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit.
Tickets are $12.
Call 313-961-6358 or visit saintandrewsdetroit.com.
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