"Truth is, nobody really sounds like Johnny Cash. And we know that," says David Burney about the Cash-celebrating quartet that he fronts. "We're basically poseurs. I'm a designer. Our drummer, Randy Benefield, is a dentist. David Gresham, our Luther Perkins, is a Raleigh firefighter. And bassist Joey Ward is an insurance claims dude."
Well, they've nailed the pose: They sound as comfortable as anyone can covering the Man in Black—with side trips to Buck and Waylon, plus the occasional original. In addition to assuming the Johnny role in the band, Burney (who was in the Swingin' Johnsons with Gresham and Benefield) speaks fluent Cash. Asked for an introductory five-song list should someone would require one, Burney starts with "Big River" and ends with "I Walk the Line." Of the former, he says, "This is about a great a piece of southern poetry as there ever was. You can't change a lyric in this song—that's how pure and perfect it is." Of the latter: "I think this is the perfect Johnny Cash song. What is it? Country? Folk? Rock 'n' roll? It's its own genre. There's nothing like it. It seems so simple but it's so complex." The Cash catalog is in excellent hands. With Nasty Habits. —Rick Cornell