BWW Interviews: Derek Keeling Presents A Tribute to Johnny Cash at LaBelle Theater
Derek Keeling is best known for his run on NBC's 'Grease: You're the One That I Want,' in which he placed third in Broadway's largest national casting call. Keeling made his Broadway debut in the summer of 2008 as Danny Zuko in Grease. He also played Johnny Cash in the first National Tour of 'Million Dollar Quartet.' He is continuing to pay tribute to Johnny Cash with a special performance in his home state of West Virginia. I recently caught up with Derek and he shared his reasons for wanting to do the tribute.
How did you get the idea to do a Johnny Cash Tribute?
Well mostly I was inspired by being on tour with the first "Million Dollar Quartet" tour as Johnny Cash. Being immersed in that environment for so long and connecting with thousands of Johnny Cash fans all over the country and world gave me such a great appreciation for Johnny Cash and what his legacy means to modern music. Through his music I was inspired to write more of my own. We were even lucky enough to record some of my album live at Sun Studios. That was a pretty magical experience. That album is finally done and we sell it at all of my shows. We are hoping to do an online digital release this fall.
Tell us a little bit about the upcoming Johnny Cash show at LaBelle.
I've been doing a lot of concerts since I left tour and finally wanted to do a show fully dedicated to Cash. I did the first full show last month in New York City and it was such an amazing experience that I wanted to bring it to my home town in WV. We will be performing songs from Cash's early career and even some songs off of his last album before he passed away. For every one of these concerts I get to produce, I want to link them to a local charity to help them raise awareness for their cause and we will donate a portion of the proceeds to the charity as well as collect donations for them. Our first charity is HospiceCare. They really do a great job providing for those with fatal conditions and never turn anyone away. Both of my mom's parents were in HospiceCare, so it will be nice to give something back.
Who will be performing with you?
I really have some great talent sharing the stage with me here in West Virginia. All of these performers are local talent, and I was blessed to have them join me. Every one of them are great at what they do and we've had a blast working on the music. We'll have a full band with me on acoustic guitar and singing, Alex Faulkner playing lead guitar, John Inghram on upright bass, singers Ben Richards and Brooke Smolder, Steve Bell on drums, and Allan Hatten wails on the harmonica.
What are some of the songs you will be singing?
We'll be singing everything from "Cry Cry Cry" to "Boy Named Sue" to the infamous "Folsom Prison." People are going to get a taste of a lot of the music Johnny Cash had made over 5 decades of being a major player in the music industry. If you love good old fashioned music, then this show is exactly what you're looking for.
"A Tribute to the Music of Johnny Cash" will be for one night only at the Labelle Theater in South Charleston, West Virginia. You can get tickets online at www.DerekKeeling.com or by calling (304) 356-1654.