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Johnny Cash tribute artist will perform Saturday in Brooksville

Bill Forness performs as Johnny Cash, music that his grandfather loved.

Courtesy of Bill Forness

Bill Forness performs as Johnny Cash, music that his grandfather loved.

BROOKSVILLE — Like millions of boys, Bill Forness always wanted to be a rock star. With an electric guitar, he wrote and played music that made his mother cringe.

But being a rock star was not his destiny. Although Forness has been a musician for more than 20 years, it was only four years ago that he found his niche. It was one that should have been clear to him when he first started playing. It was the music that his grandfather, an old country guitar picker, loved so much that he decided to name his daughter, Forness' mother, June.

"I did it for my mother," Forness admits. "She never liked the music I was doing, and was always wanting me to play some old country. She said I had the voice for it."

Apparently, Mom was right.

When Forness decided to become a Johnny Cash tribute artist, his career kicked into high gear. He and his band, One More Round, have been performing nonstop throughout the country, and on Saturday they will present their show at the Hernando High School Performing Arts Center. Brittany Sheffer will be singing as June Carter, Johnny's second wife.

The show, which will be the group's first in Florida, is part of the Hernando Performing Arts Guild's 2013-14 season. Bringing the group to Brooksville was the idea of Sherry Pedonesi, a director with the guild who also happens to be Forness' aunt.

"I think he's phenomenal," Pedonesi said.

However, because Forness is her nephew, Pedonesi was hesitant at first to suggest his show to the guild. But once they watched him perform on YouTube, board members were excited.

The show includes some of Cash's greatest hits — I Walk the Line, Ring of Fire, Folsom Prison Blues and A Boy Named Sue as well as a variety of lesser-known songs, including some of his gospel tunes.

"I always try to do the hits that people know and love," Forness said, "but even some of the off ones are great songs."

The show also includes duets and a bit of theatrics, with Forness and Sheffer playing off the antics of June and Johnny.

While Forness sports the pompadour hairstyle and plays on a Gibson J-45 guitar, like the one Cash used, he does not claim to be a Johnny Cash imitator.

"I don't think I'm Johnny," Forness said. "This is a theatrical tribute that tells the life (Cash and Carter) led, with stories that some people don't know."

And although he didn't fulfill that boyhood dream of being a rock star, Forness said his tribute to Johnny Cash is not too far off.

"His music was cutting edge," Forness said. "Johnny Cash was an icon."

. If you go

Tribute to Johnny Cash

Tribute to Johnny Cash, with Bill Forness and the band One More Round

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Hernando High School Performing Arts Center, 700 Bell Ave., Brooksville.

Admission: Tickets are $25. Call (352) 799-5577 or visit hpag.org or the guild's Facebook page.

Johnny Cash tribute artist will perform Saturday in Brooksville 01/14/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 2:38pm]
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