DIXON – A chance encounter with one of the the biggest legends in music has helped shape the life of a Whiteside County native and led him around the world.
Doug Allen Nash was on a USO show tour in Europe in the early 1990s when he found himself along with his band with a layover in a Denmark airport. As he was walking to his gate he also found Johnny Cash only a few feet away waiting for his flight.
“I was walking and looked to my left and there’s Johnny Cash,” Nash said. “So I walked up to him and told him I was a big fan, and he was very kind and gracious. We talked about Nashville, and I invited him to come meet our band and he walked up with me to them.”
Nash now honors that moment, and Cash, as he tours the world performing a tribute show focusing on the musical legacies of Cash and his wife June Carter Cash. In the high-energy show complete with a 10-piece band, video walls and a dazzling light show, Nash captures the appearance, vocals, speech, mannerisms and spirit of Cash.
He will bring that show at 7 p.m. Saturday to the Historic Dixon Theatre.
He’s performed the show in 87 countries at some notable venues including Las Vegas and in Hollywood at the Viper Room on the 20th anniversary of Cash’s performance at that same location.
It’s a pretty good career of seeing the world for a guy who grew up on the family farm on the Erie/Albany blacktop and graduated from Erie High School. Nash has lived in a few cities far bigger since his days on the family farm, which they still own, including stops in Nashville, Las Vegas, Europe and his current home in the Dallas area.
He makes it a point to never be away from home for that long, though, because his mom and dad still live in the area and he gets a chance to reconnect with his roots.
“This is still home and it always will be. I keep grounded coming back to the farm,” Nash said.
In a busy touring schedule, which he attributes to his Midwestern upbringing that teaches working hard for what you want, Nash is excited to be performing in Dixon. It gives him a chance to be close to home, see old friends and do what he loves to do best and get on stage.
Part of the show will be Nash singing one of his original songs called “June” which he co-wrote and co-produced with Jeff Silverman in Nashville. The engineering mix was done by Chuck Turner and Johnny and June’s son John Carter Cash. The idea came after a show one night when he was watching a documentary on Johnny and June.
“About 7 or 8 years ago, I got done with a show about 2 a.m. and I saw John Carter Cash doing a PBS special and talking about how Johnny loved June tenderly,” Nash said. “The original title of the song was ‘He Loved Her Tenderly’ but then we changed it to ‘June.’”
That led to a trip to the Cash estate to record the song in the same studio where Johnny made a lot of the classics that still are huge hits today.
“I’m sitting in Johnny Cash’s studio in a rocking chair that he sat in listening to my song playing back,” Nash said. “I was playing a guitar that he played. That studio is like a museum.”
Nash also incorporates a tribute to Neil Diamond into the performance as well to give fans a treat from another all-time music legend.
“Demographically, it makes sense and he’s had a 50-year career,” Nash said. “He’s got some huge hits and most people don’t realize he wrote songs like ‘Red, Red, Wine’ and ‘I’m A Believer’ from The Monkees.”
That part of the show spotlights much more audience participation as Nash gets the crowd into the act to really amp up the energy.
The portion of the show that he enjoys the most, however, is when he does a tribute to the Armed Forces.
“We do a tribute to them and I sing Johnny’s song ‘Ragged Old Flag,” Nash said.
Doug Allen Nash will perform a tribute to Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Historic Dixon Theatre, 114 S. Galena Ave., in Dixon.
Call 815-285-1917 or go to dixontheatre.ticketleap.com for tickets or go to dougallennash.com for more information.