John Carter Cash makes no bones about the fact that although he enjoys performing, working in the studio is his true passion.

While many have likely heard the music to come out of Cabin Cash Studio in Hendersonville, Tenn. -- which Johnny Cash built on his property north of Nashville in 1978 and where he, his wife June Carter Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Earl Scruggs, Loretta Lynn, Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris and many other members of musical royalty recorded --- watching John perform during a September 11 showcase in Nashville was something of a rare and unusual treat.

"Some folks expect my music to sound like my dad's," John told The Boot prior to his performance during the annual Americana Music Fest. "I never felt like I had to sound like my dad. I wanted my music to be creative expression with no expectations."

The Cash and Carter roots weren't far removed, though, when John strode onto the stage, wearing a black t-shirt that simply read "CASH" under a finely trimmed gray suit, and began singing the folk tune, 'The Swimming Song,' written by Loudon Wainwright III and perhaps best known as a staple of Fairport Convention shows. From there he moved on to other songs from his album 'Family Secret,' due out September 21, including 'No One Gets Out of Here Alive,' -- which he calls a 'personal prayer' -- 'Cab Casket' and 'If God Made Anything Better Than a Woman.'

"The Carter family history means a lot to me," John told the audience just prior to inviting his wife Laura Cash on stage to accompany him. "This was actually going to be the Carter Family III (the music of John, Laura, and Dale Jett, a third-generation member of the Carter family) tonight but I didn't think [my cousin] Dale could make it and I wasn't sure Laura could, so here I am in my pretty suit."

In fact it was Laura, a nationally-known fiddle player who recorded with both Johnny and June and just released the album 'Awake But Dreaming,' who encouraged John to really study and absorb the classic music of his family.

"I listen to all types of music," John said, listing such diverse influences from George Jones to Tori Amos. "but the most important is the Carter Family. It's invaluable to my spirit."

With Laura on fiddle and John on guitar, the two treated the audience to the Carter Family classic 'Diamonds in the Rough.' No, she wasn't dressed in finery and he wasn't clad in black, but the audience surely must have felt a sense of June and Johnny as the two played and sang together. Add to that John's comments about his story -- one of which he seemed to cut short perhaps due to his emotions -- and you had the makings of a magical evening.

"I am having so much fun, I think I'll stay up here all night long," said John, flashing a big grin at the audience as his back-up band looked on. "I haven't had this much fun in years."

As the showcase moved toward the end and cries of "Carter Cash!" rang through the club, John let his love of rock loose with spirited renditions of several songs including the album's title track.

Those who attended might count themselves lucky because John admits he's uncertain if he'll tour behind his soon-to-be-released album.

"I might go on the road, do a few dates," he said, noting he's also writing another children's book and a book about his father. "I will do the next right thing."

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