Johnny Cash famously sang that he shot a man in Reno just to watch him die — but did he eat the guy’s brains?
More than nine years after the Man in Black died, a group of hootenannying cowpunks are bringing him back in perhaps his darkest role, in zombie form.
Brooklyn musician Steve Sasso is heading up “Zombie Cash,” a one-off project that will perform at a Halloween party at the Jalopy Theater. Sasso will portray a zombified Cash, complete with a zombie band and a post-mortem June Carter Cash.
“I get to dress like June and be weird and retro and dead for one night,” said zombie-wife Aviva Jaye, who plays with Sasso in an old-timey band called the Boo Boo Danger. “I can’t wait.”
The act isn’t all make-up and sass, though. The undead musicians want to give the legendary Cash a proper Halloween tribute.
Sasso is aiming less for the country-folk feel of Cash’s studio records and more for the punkabilly of Cash’s raucous live shows, such as when he played live at the Folsom and San Quentin prisons in California in the late 1960s.
“I really hope we do it justice,” he said.
To prepare for the gig, Jaye learned to play the autoharp in just two weeks, which she said wasn’t that hard, since she already plays the guitar and the folk harp.
The act itself was inspired by a band Sasso saw play in Brooklyn around Halloween of last year — Dionne Werewolf, a moon-lit trio of singers.
“They were pretty much what you would expect from a band with that name,” said Sasso. “We are a bite off of that.”
The show promises to be a treat for both Johnny Cash fans as well as those who like anything with an undead spin. Sasso and Jaye hope to bring the classic country songs back to life for one evening, even if the lyrics might reflect a hunger for more than just applause.
“Some of the songs I’ll sing the way they are, but others I’ve changed the lyrics to be zombie themed,” said Sasso, who is preparing parodies such as “Die, Die, Die,” instead of “Cry! Cry! Cry!” and a version of “I Walk the Line” entitled “I’ll Eat Your Brain.”
“Zombie Cash” at the Jalopy Theater [315 Columbia St. between Hamilton Avenue and Woodhull Street, (718) 395–3214, www.jalopy.biz]. $10 Sat., Oct. 27 at 9 p.m.