“Walk the Line” breaks new ground as a day-long Cash-inspired festival

Featuring New Country Rehab, Christa Couture, Andrew Queen, Julian Taylor,
David Wilton, Ariana Gillis, Kristine Schmittcash show jpeg

With a new name, expanded programming, and a broader creative focus, the popular annual Johnny Cash tribute show at Port Hope’s Capitol Theatre seeks to break new ground in its fifth year—as community festival, dedicated to the spirit of Johnny Cash.

“Last year’s show was a sell-out,” says artistic director David Newland, “but we had to keep building to stay fresh for year five. To me, that meant doing more than playing Johnny’s hits.”

The annual shows have raised thousands of dollars for Green Wood Coalition over the years, but equally importantly, have shared a message of hope, advocacy and creativity.

“Walk the Line is about the way Johnny lived: standing up for the less fortunate, breaking boundaries, living honestly and authentically,” says Green Wood Coalition outreach worker, David Sheffield, who introduced the Cash tribute concept five years ago.

This year’s programming includes afternoon solo and workshop sets, upstairs at the Capitol, as well as the annual evening revue show in the theatre. For the first time, performers will play selections of their own material along with Johnny Cash’s famous hits.

Newland says it’s a natural evolution. “Last year, our audience told us they really wanted to hear more from each artist. So we brought back Christa Couture and David Wilton, who were both fantastic last year, and we’re giving them more stage time.”

This year’s new acts reflect Cash’s diverse influence. Says Newland, “We’re introducing Julian Taylor, who’s going to open people’s ears with a touch of urban soul. And we’re honouring Johnny’s outlaw streak with New Country Rehab, the hottest country-roots act going. They play the way I think Johnny would play if he were starting out today.” (For artist bios, please scroll to beneath the main article).

Also for the first time, Walk the Line will offer a deeper exploration of Cash’s work and ideals. Afternoon workshops will include “Angels and Demons,” a nod to Johnny Cash’s struggles with poverty, addiction, and the law, and “Country,Folk, & Roots”. There’s even a Cash For Kids workshop from Campbellford performer Andrew Queen, another returning artist.

For the Green Wood Coalition, Walk The Line represents more than fundraiser. A block of tickets to Walk the Line will be set aside for financially disadvantaged members of the community. “We have an opportunity here to share a message about hope and inclusion,” says Sheffield, “and to hear some great music too.” “That’s what Johnny Cash did,” adds Newland. “That’s what Walk the Line means.”

“Walk the Line: Celebrating the Spirit of Johnny Cash”

Saturday, November 7
Capitol Theatre, Port Hope
Afternoon workshops: 1:00 PM
Evening revue show: 8:00 PM

A benefit for Green Wood Coalition
Tickets: www.greenwoodcoalition.com

About Green Wood Coalition:

For people living with small town poverty, mental illness, addiction, alienation or other disabilities, Green Wood Coalition is a safe, welcoming, non-judgemental and creative community based in Port Hope. Through a should-to-shoulder approach we work together to find solutions to daily challenges.


Artist Bios:

New Country Rehab
The name only hints at what this high-powered alt-country unit brings to the stage. NCR combines the driving rhythm of rockabilly with the attitude of outlaw country. Known for his deep approach to stagecraft and songwriting, frontman/fiddler John Showman conceived NCR’s latest album on a trip to the deep south, where Johnny Cash’s sound emerged. Passionately committed to the spirit of classic country roots music, New Country Rehab were nominated for a Canadian Folk Music award for ‘pushing the boundaries.’ A contradiction? Let’s just say they Walk The Line!


Christa Couture
A 2012 “best pick” by CBC Music, Christa Couture sings extraordinary songs—but it’s impossible to write about this Cree roots singer-songwriter without touching on the rest of her life. A survivor of heartbreak (she has lost two children) and cancer (she crowd-funded her prosthetic leg), Couture rises above pain with an unmistakeable voice and unstoppable spirit. Couture left audiences asking for more in 2014 and returns to Walk the Line with songs of her own as well as covers of Cash classics.


Julian Taylor
A soulful singer with deep appreciation of folk, roots, and country, Julian Taylor “revels in versatility,” as the Toronto Star put it. A nominee for Best Soul/Jazz act at the Black Canadian Awards, Taylor is equally at home singing Gordon Lightfoot. His songs have been featured on TV shows including Degrassi: The Next Generation, and “Be Good To Your Woman” from his recent record Tech Noir, grew into a campaign to raise awareness of violence against women. Taylor embodies the kind of genre-bending approach that made Johnny Cash an icon.


David Wilton
“Discovered” by audience favourite Ariana Gillis, David Wilton wowed the audience at last year’s show with a classic country voice and style that belie his 17 years. From his cowboy hat right down to his boots, this young crooner puts his heart and soul into the material, and returns by popular request.


Andrew Queen
A founding member of the folk-rock ensemble Jughead, Andrew Queen has become a favourite as a solo kids’ performer on the festival circuit including Shelter Valley Folk Festival. Andrew is a former Children’s Artist of the Year, a two-time Canadian Folk Music Award nominee for Children’s Album of the year, and the winner of two Parents’ Choice Recommended Awards. He’s back this year to start Walk the Line off with Cash For Kids.


Kristine Schmitt
Kristine has the chops, and the charm of a true chanteuse. With an eerily authentic voice and a toe-tapping style, Kristine cheerfully channels the country spirit in originals and covers, both as a solo act and as the leader of one of her many side projects. Kristine returns this year both to our workshop stage, and as a special guest of New Country Rehab on the main stage.


Ariana Gillis
A sensationally talented vocalist, performer and guitarist, Ariana can rock the house, or deliver a haunting ballad, with equal ease. Ariana is also a gifted and insightful songwriter, mixing elements of folk, pop, and roots-rock to compose eclectic anthems that are uniquely hers, Ariana returns to team up with David Wilton, whom she introduced to our audience in 2014.


Candace Shaw
Feminist, bon vivant, actor, and cultural producer, Candace has been a fixture on the Canadian music scene for twenty years. She was the long-time AD of Peterborough Folk Festival and is the current Chair of Shelter Valley Folk Festival. Candace is the founder of Canadian Women Working in Music and Secret Frequency.


David Newland
Host of the annual Johnny Cash revue show since Year One, David also helps out behind the scenes with artistic direction. A Cobourg resident, David divides his time between writing, performing, hosting and travelling to faraway places with Adventure Canada.