Man in black coming back

The three-month tour will start on August 30 in Queensland and includes dates in NSW, Western Australia, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

This time around the concerts will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Cash's 1963 hit Ring Of Fire.

"In his catalogue of material it certainly stands out as being quite different," says Thompson, who plays the part of the man in black.

"It doesn't stand out as being something that doesn't belong, but it is quite different to everything else he sang. Obviously there's the horns and trumpet arrangement ... it's an interesting song. There's no wondering why it's one of the favourites. Lyrically it's great and musically it grabs the attention."

Johnny Cash The Concert is a two-hour show which features the tracks that made Johnny Cash's live show something special.

June Carter and The Carter Family, The Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins and Cash's gospel greats are featured in the first half of the show, while the second set includes all of the man's biggest, most memorable hits.

Preparing for such a show is no easy task, says Thompson, who casting an impressive shadow and boasting a voice deeper than most collective groups of men, see him a shoe-in for the centre stage gig.

"It really is a big learn," he said. "A lot of effort goes into getting those songs into your head. And then there's a lot of effort going in to performing them.

"People know what Cash was all about so there's a bit of a responsibility to live up to what they expect. It's certainly more than learning the songs, it's about an attitude. Cash and his music was attitude. You've got to approach it from a certain angle.

"You're pretty lucky with Johnny Cash that there's heaps of concert footage, heaps of interviews and heaps of music, so there's heaps of material to draw on and then it's about being responsible and doing that research, because most people want certain things. So you've got to know at least as much as everybody else does."

Thompson said that when it came to putting the show together it really was a case of 'what to leave out'.

"It was about sitting down and writing a list of songs that we wanted to do," he said. "When we first sat down to write the list we ended up with 65 songs, which is obviously not possible. We're down to 43 songs for the show and really, that's the bare minimum of what we want to do.

"Once you write that initial list you just whittle it down to what's possible. You could go for four hours if you wanted to, the material is so good and there's so much of it. It's a shame to leave things out but you wouldn't survive three months out on the road if you were doing 60 songs a night."

Thompson had high praise for French, an Australian guitar-playing legend, and the touring band, The Tennessee Studs.

"The band is so important," he said. "There's a perception that Johnny Cash's music is quite simple, but the trick is making it all work together and if you don't have the right players it can all fall to pieces very quickly."

For this tour the men will be joined by Golden Guitar-winning singer-songwriter Tamara Stewart, who will assume the role of June Carter.

"It really is great having a great singer doing the June Carter and Carter Family stuff," Thompson said.

"Tamara is a great talent as a singer-songwriter and from the second we first played through the songs and she opened her mouth I was like, 'yep, that's great'. It's going to be brilliant. I'm really looking forward to getting out there and playing the shows."

For Thompson, who has released his own country material in the past, performing as Cash is most certainly a passion.

"Doing this sort of thing is real rewarding and sure, I'd like to get some of my own stuff out there sooner rather than later, but I'd be just as happy singing these songs for the rest of my life," he said.

For more details, including the full tour schedule visit cashlive.com.au

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