When an ailing Johnny Cash and W.S. Holland — members of Cash’s Tennessee Three since 1968 and 1960, respectively — put their suitcases away, too. But Cash’s death in September 2003 gave them reason to hit the road again.
“We’re trying to keep the sound and the songs alive as long as we can,” says guitarist Wootton, 64, who handles the lead vocals these days and, of course, wears the black stage attire associated with Cash.
“So many people, when they pass on, they’re soon forgotten. You don’t hear their names or their music anymore. This is such a unique sound we feel like we have to keep it alive.”
The current Tennessee Three is actually a quintet that also includes Wootton’s wife, Vicky, and his daughter Scarlett. The group performs some original material he says is “reminiscent of Cash stuff” — including a prison song by Scarlett called “Revenge” — but the bulk of the show is dedicated to the oldest part of Cash’s catalog.
“We get a lot of requests for ‘Folsom Prison Blues,’ ‘Get Rhythm,’ ‘Hey Porter’ — the old stuff, that’s what they like,” Wootton says. “There’s only one or two times anybody has hollered, wanting us to do ‘A Boy Named Sue’ or ‘Man in Black.’ It’s all that old sound they want.
“And a lot of people say to us that it’s like being at a Johnny Cash show, so we’re just tickled to death with it. I tell ’em, ‘We’ll keep doing it as long as I don’t get senile or something and start embarrassing y’all.’ ”
The Tennessee Three and Catfi sh Mafi a perform at 8 p.m. Saturday (July 22nd)at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak. Tickets are $22.50. Call (248) 399-2980 or visit
Send your thoughts and comments to