The Jacks creating a February fever for Johnny Cash

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The iconic engagement of June Carter and Johnny Cash, which took place Feb. 22, 1968 at the old London Gardens, is being marked with a celebration by the Jack Richardson London Music Awards.

The Jack Richardson London Music Awards (JRLMA) will be heating up February by making it hotter than a pepper sprout.

If that sounds like the words to Jackson — the signature song of country superstars June Carter and Johnny Cash — it should. The JRLMA is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Cash’s on-stage proposal to Carter on Feb. 22, 1968 at the old London Gardens with a country music gala 50 years to the day after it happened.

Thursday, Feb. 22, at the London Music Hall, JRLMA is presenting Johnny & June: Engaged in a Fever.

“If someone is a fan of Johnny Cash, or if you never really know much about him, then this is a great event for you,” said JRLMA founder Mario Circelli. “I hope people will come away with a new connection to Johnny Cash.”

Guests of honour for the evening include W.S. “Fluke” Holland, Cash’s drummer who was behind the kit at the iconic 1968 London Gardens show, and Tommy Cash, Johnny’s younger brother.

Tommy Cash is the younger brother of the country music icon, but also an accomplished musician himself.

After serving in the Army, Tommy Cash played with Hank Williams Jr. before going on to score a number of Billboard hits. In 1969 he delivered his biggest hit, a tune dedicated to John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King entitled, Six White Horses.

Tommy Cash continues to tour, is a motivational speaker and the voice behind dozens of television commercials.

Another highlight of the evening, in addition to a Q&A session with Holland and Cash, JRLMA winners The Marrieds perform a tribute to Johnny and June. Not only will they recreate the celebrated proposal, but they will also perform several songs with guest appearances by Holland and Cash.

In addition to marking the anniversary, Circelli said the show will also offer Londoners the chance to celebrate one of their own.

Saul Holiff, who died in 2005, was Cash’s manager for some 17 years, guiding the troubled singer through many of his most difficult years where he dealt with addiction, keeping him on the path to superstardom.

“Saul orchestrated the Folsom Prison show, he was instrumental in bringing June Carter into the act; Johnny Cash is irrevocably linked to London and the reason for that is Saul Holiff,” Circelli said. “It’s because of Saul that Johnny became a superstar. So, we wanted to pay homage to Saul, and pay tribute to Johnny and June, and what better way to do that then by commemorating the 50th anniversary of that special night.”

More London musicians will be joining the show and other guests who know the Cash-Carter-London story will be in London for the event or during Jack Richardson London Music Week, which is set for April 8-15.

Filmmaker Jonathan Holiff and author Julie Chadwick, for example, will be in London on Sunday, April 15 as London and the JRLMA continue to celebrate that hot February night, as well as the organization’s annual awards gala.

For more information and tickets, visit https://londonmusichall.com/events/tommy-cash-w-s-holland.

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Rose Cora Perry rocks the Whisky A Go-Go

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London’s Rose Cora Perry & The Truth Untold recently performed at the legendary Whisky A Go-Go in Los Angeles.

The Whisky A Go-Go has anchored the Los Angeles music scene since opening in 1964, playing host to rock ‘n’ roll legends from The Doors and Guns N’ Roses to today’s up and coming artists, including one band from the Forest City.

The Sunset Strip landmark — the first live music venue to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — launched its popular Ultimate Jam Night showcase back in 2015.

The Whisky’s showcase features a rotating lineup of musicians — including the house band members Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot), Matt Starr (Mr. Big), Mitch Perry (Lita Ford) and Paulie Z (The Sweet) — who come together to perform a variety of classic rock, hard rock and heavy metal favourites.

The opening act for the Jan. 23 jam was London’s own Rose Cora Perry & The Truth Untold.

Launched in 2016 by Perry and drummer Tyler Randall — and recently assisted by touring bassist Amber Gorham — the band has been gaining acclaim for its songs and music videos, but playing the Whisky, Perry said, takes things to a new level.

“The Whisky is literally the epicentre that any rock ‘n’ roll musician, die-hard grunger, could aspire to play,” she said. “The funny thing is it has this legendary status, but it’s probably not even half the size of Call the Office. My nerves overtook me at some moments, I couldn’t believe we were there, but it was in a good way. It took our energetic performance and made it really fun for everybody.”

Perry is actually no stranger to performing at legendary venues.

During her days with the early 2000s band Anti-Hero, Perry and her bandmates performed at legendary New York City venue CBGB, less than a month before the club closed its doors in 2006.

That experience, together with playing The Whisky, speaks to Perry’s commitment to always following through with her dreams.

To share her music, Perry created her own record label when she was just 15. That effort would lead to several successful ventures, including the signing of Anti-Hero to a major label record deal.

However, she ended up leaving the music business for about a decade when that band came to an end.

Perry decided to return to the music scene in 2016, but she remains realistic about her chances for success.

“I will be the first to say the music industry is so unstable that I’m hedging my bets — on a very grand scale of a billion to one. I totally get that,” she said. “But at the end of the day I want to be able to look back on my life and know I did some really cool things, fulfilled what was in my heart and my soul, and I was happy. I did what I wanted to do, I followed my dreams, and everyone should.”

Last summer The Truth Untold achieved a significant break when they were invited to be the only Canadian performer at Summer NAMM — a major American music industry showcase — in Nashville, Tenn.

That was an opportunity, Perry explains, to make connections in the U.S. music industry. One result of that exposure was the recruitment of Mapex Drums Canada and Blackstar Amplification as official band sponsors.

Both companies invited the band to participate in the Winter NAMM showcase, which was being held in Anaheim, Calif.

In conjunction with Perry’s new sponsorship status with Blackstar Amps, The Truth Untold was invited to showcase themselves with an opening spot on the same stage shared by the biggest names in rock ‘n’ roll history.

The moment was — to say the least — a little overwhelming.

“We got to the five-minute mark before going up on stage . . . and I turned to Tyler and Amber . . . I almost started to break down,” she said. “We had a little group hug session to get our energies up. The atmosphere was just so cool and welcoming, the way it should always be. I wish every venue was that way. We played 40 minutes and then they demanded an encore. It was amazing.”

YOU breakfast to set record while sharing youth challenges

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YOU executive director Steve Cordes and youth speaker Madi Parks will be appearing at the 12th annual Breakfast for YOU, Thursday, Feb. 8 at London Convention Centre.

Madi Parks used to stand on the street outside Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU)’s Cornerstone building, too nervous to walk through the doors to receive the help that was waiting inside.

On Thursday, Feb. 8, she will bring that experience full circle as she stands up in front of an expected crowd of 1,200 people as youth speaker at the 12th annual Breakfast for YOU. Doors open at the London Convention Centre open at 7 p.m. with the program getting underway at 7:30 a.m.

Parks will be sharing her experience of homelessness and vulnerability in the hopes it will “engage, educate, and empower” the audience.

“I think it’s important to raise awareness in our community. I don’t think everyone knows what’s going on or this is happening in our backyard,” she said. “I just want to be careful that everything I say up there is meaningful. I’m not saying it for the sake of pity or just for the sake of saying it.”

This year’s breakfast will be a record-setter with typical crowds in previous years reaching upwards of 650 people. With only days left for people to get their tickets, more than 1,100 people have already signed up.

Having a record number of people signed up for the breakfast — there is a limit of 1,200 tickets — has Steve Cordes understandably excited.

Cordes, YOU executive director, said the leap forward in support for the event was a little surprising, but is something that makes sense given the rising profile of the organization within London.

“I think there is more community buy-in into community issues. You look at health care issues, you look at homelessness issues, you look at poverty issues, those have all been massive threads in our community over the past year,” he said. “People have rallied their heads around how they can be part of this, how can they be part of the solution to these big community issues.”

Cordes will also be speaking at this year’s breakfast, but he acknowledges Parks’ story is the one that will captivate the audience.

Having served as executive director since 1988, Cordes has always been a strong proponent of the breakfast and the role it serves in pushing the YOU message.

Hearing from young people with lived experience of poverty and homelessness is a “powerful way,” he explains, for YOU to offer something he feels is often an “eye-opening experience” for those who take in the breakfast.

Parks added her hope is participants will come away with a greater awareness of the reality many young people face.

“I don’ think it’s just about my story, or really even just YOU, it’s really about the people who are attending,” she said. “They want to be engaged, they want to learn more, or else they wouldn’t be coming.”

Cordes said he also hopes Breakfast for YOU sends the audience away with a strong sense of hope that something can be done to create change in the community.

That change can be in supporting large community efforts such as YOU’s New Addition campaign — the $8.2 million effort to develop a new, 40-plus unit building for youth and young mothers across the street from the Cornerstone — or simply buying a coffee from the YOU Made It Cafe.

Parks agrees. After all, she didn’t know anyone when she moved to London three years ago, but now has a strong network of people she can count on.

As that change was created through the support provide through YOU, she’s not going to let a little thing like standing in front of 1,200 people stop her from supporting the organization in any way she can.

“I used to stand outside the building and now I’m speaking for the building. So that shows you that YOU can make a pretty big difference in your life,” she said. “This is important to me and outweighs everything else. Of course, I get anxious about it, but the benefits of speaking in front of that crowd outweigh the risks.”