The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash will be performing at the Westport Roots Festival, the Ameripolitan Music Awards-nominated roots music extravaganza coming up this May in Kansas City, and we couldn’t be more excited. The BSOJC were founded by Mark Stuart in San Diego in 1995, and they have been raising country Cain at music festivals and honky tonk bars all over the world ever since. As giants in the Ameripolitan scene, they are going to fit right in at Westport Roots Festival.
The name “Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash” is a tribute, not just to the music (“The Bastard Sons never were, and never will be, a Johnny Cash tribute band,” Stuart says), but to the spirit and originality of Johnny and George and Buck and all the other freewheeling country music singers who came before. Stuart knew he wanted to make music that sounded like his heroes, not Nashville. The Man in Black himself gave Stuart his blessing on the name, as well as an invite to record their debut album Walk Alone at his famous personal studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Walk Alone immediately put the BSOJC in the same conversation as their priors when it comes to good and honest outlaw-minded country music, and it proved that these Bastard Sons are hardly illegitimate. They have recorded several more acclaimed albums since – including Distance Between, Mile Markers – and the Bastard Sons keep sticking to their roots, playing Merle-inspired, Red-Dirt-infused honky tonk barnburners about every backwoods inch of America from a “Truckstop in La Grange” to “The Road to Bakersfield”.
Their live sets are a rousing mix of originals and Ameripolitan standards, and every tune is not only a fine excuse to hit the dance floor, but an exercise in respect for the trailblazers that gave American roots music its legendary stature. As Stuart sings on the title track of their 2013 album New Old Story: “Now the ones who came before me been up and down these roads the same as me…I’m just a new old story coming back around.” The “ones who came before” show the Bastard Sons plenty of their own respect; Stuart and company have opened for a mess of country music legends including Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, John Hiatt, and George Jones. And they’ve shared the stage with Willie Nelson at his annual 4th of July concert. Their music has also found its way to the mainstream thanks to appearances on television and film soundtracks, such as the HBO hit series True Blood. If the songs of the Bastard Sons fit in with a Southern Gothic supernatural horror show, we think you’ll understand what they’re aiming for.
For over twenty years, the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash have been doing their part to keep honest Ameripolitan music alive and well. We are excited to feature these modern outlaw heroes as co-headliners at the 2017 Westport Roots Festival. If they are good enough for the Man in Black, they’re good enough for us.