With a Johnny Cash impersonation so good it was selected to be featured on a national cable television network performance, Philip Bauer presents The Johnny Cash Experience on Friday, March 20, at 7:30 pm, in the ICC Performing Arts Center in East Peoria.
Bauer, who has been performing his Johnny Cash impersonation since about 2008, recently found out he was selected to appear on the AXS TV series “The World’s Best Tribute Bands,” a series of live Hollywood performances by chosen tribute artists and impersonators which begins on March 24 on the national cable network. The episode featuring Bauer’s concert is scheduled for broadcast on April 28.
Bauer began performing as an original artist in 1985 and has performed with many famous country music artists, including Leann Rimes, David Frizzell, Vince Gill, Jim Ed Brown and Toby Keith. It wasn’t until several years later that he began his show based on The Man in Black.
“In about 2008, I was doing my own shows, and part of my show was always doing other people’s voices,” Bauer said. “A friend of mine said, ‘Why don’t you take one of those characters and do the costuming and see if you could put it together as a show?’ And I thought, ‘Well that won’t work,’ but I tried it. I put together the costuming, I watched Johnny Cash’s videos and turned the sound off and just watched his mannerisms over and over again.
“Then I did a show in Oklahoma City, and they put that performance on YouTube. Within a few weeks, there was lots of calls from all over the country to that venue saying, ‘Who is this guy?’ Within about three months, I quit my sales and marketing job and started doing this full time.”
Although Johnny Cash died in 2003, Bauer never saw Cash perform in person. However, he did have the chance to perform with one of Cash’s musicians.
“I got a chance a few years ago to do a show and W.S. Holland [Johnny Cash’s only drummer] played drums for me,” Bauer said. “He said after that watching me was ‘spooky’ because it was so much like Johnny Cash.”
Even though Cash has been gone for more than a decade, Bauer thinks the narrative of Cash’s life has helped to keep his music popular as time passes.
“His songs and his stories are all relatable to the general population,” Bauer said. “Everyone knew he had his own struggles with alcohol and drugs, and it’s a story of redemption for him. He turned his life around, and I think a lot of people can relate to that, so I think that’s why he has such a legacy.”
Hooked on Fishing is the highlighted community partner for this ICC Guest Artists Series performance. The community partner program highlights a different, local organization for each Guest Artists Series presentation.
As it does for all ICC Guest Artists Series events, CityLink provides Park and Ride service from Peoria for the performance. Buses leave Evergreen Square at 7 pm, and transport passengers directly to the ICC Performing Arts Center. Buses return to Evergreen Square immediately after the show. The cost is $1 each way with senior citizens 65 years of age or older riding free.
Tickets for the performance at ICC cost $20 for the general public and $10 for students. Tickets may be purchased online at ArtsAtICC.com or by calling the box office at (309) 694-5136.
Next: More Than 100 Local Performers to Participate in “ICC Presents: Jim Maloof’s Legacy of Love for the Arts in Central Illinois” Event April 16 at Northwoods Community Church