There has been a lot of hype recently over Miley Cyrus’ performance of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ at the Grammys with many articles even referring to Cyrus as ‘the country star’…
That’s not country. Nashville Live is country.
So how would you describe Nashville Live? Well, I figured one of the stars of the show Lars Pluto would explain it better than me. “I would describe it as a recreation of a classic radio show performed on the stage. We try to recreate the best moments of the opry by performing the music of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Laurette Lynne, Pattsy Clyde, all the G.O.A.T’s ( greatest of all time) of country music.”
Growing up as a performer in the Southern Baptist Gospel Group and performing alongside his family, Lars spoke about how music has shaped his life. “Music and performing in general was such a huge part of my family and has been for generations; at least five to six generations of my family have been performers in one way or another, so music down there is a much bigger deal than it is in many places around the world.
“A lot of the music that people still listen to heavily came from the southern states; blues, jazz, rock all generally come from the south. Growing up down there, particularly in a musical family it is the air that you breathe,” he continues.
“We would spend all week practising and then because we were a gospel group Sundays where always the biggest days for us and we would go to Churches or anywhere that would have us. Everything was always a build up to Sunday which was the fellowship of praying with your friends and family.”
Now performing with his newest family (this time an on-stage family), Lars undertakes the role of Johnny Cash in the Nashville Live show. When asked about what resonates with him about Cash’s music he thoughtfully remarked, “For me Johnny Cash is beyond an icon.”
“My first memory of Johnny Cash was driving around with my grandad in his pickup truck and my grandad was from the same place as Johnny Cash, and he had a great big baritone voice because he was a big man, and he loved to sing Johnny Cash and he sung him all the time.”
“Growing up, Johnny Cash and my grandfather were almost one of the same in my mind so when I started to perform as Johnny Cash over in the UK I found myself recreating my grandfather more than I was recreating Johnny Cash… So for me Johnny is practically family,” he laughs.
With their first tour of Australia as a show, Lars spoke of his love of new cities and how he cannot wait to explore what Australia has to offer. “We don’t have too much time off but a few of us have been to Australia before to play at festivals like the Tamworth Music Festival and our fiddle player also used to live in Australia so we have a few tour guides amongst us who can show us some cool stuff. I know I’m looking forward to getting some good surfing in. Where I live in the UK there is actually not bad surfing, but the water is very cold so I wouldn’t mind getting into the Australian surf.
“I love getting lost in new cities and have to find my way back, I do that whenever I tour so I’m looking forward to that the most.”
When and Where: Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo – March 21 and Costa Hall, Deakin University, Geelong – March 24.
Written by Alex Callan