Shade Jonze picked up the guitar seven years ago as a hobby.
He and his wife were living in Des Moines, Iowa, at the time. The kids were out of the house, he loved the mathematical quality of music and he always wanted to learn how to play the instrument, so he finally began taking lessons.
And tonight, he’ll be playing and singing to a sold-out Cottage Event Center in Roanoke, as he and his musical partner, Shannon Persinger, perform the songs of Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline.
The pain that comes in life, he has the ability to capture that, says Jonze, whose real name is Henry Phillips, of Cash’s music. I believe I feel what he felt, and I do feel it.
Cash’s lyrics are what drew Jonze to him as a performer.
Jonze says he loves songs that tell more of a story, and he and Persinger – known together as the area music duo Shade ’N Shannon – will cover the entire arc of Cash’s career.
There will probably be classics such as Cry, Cry, Cry and Folsom Prison Blues, but also later songs such as God’s Gonna Cut You Down and Hurt, a song originally done by the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails that gained a wide mainstream audience with a cover by Cash.
Cash has an unusual following, Jonze says. There are the older folks, but there is also a Goth audience now. I cover all of it.
The venue for the show is relatively new, having been built in March on the site of the old Roanoke Lanes bowling alley off U.S. 24.
Serving as not only a concert venue but as a reception hall and center for almost any type of event, the Cottage Inn has flourished in the 10 months it’s been open, according to co-owner Jim Amstutz.
We had an idea of doing something like this for a while, says Amstutz, referring to himself and business partners John and Gale Mann. There aren’t that many places in Huntington County or southwest Fort Wayne where you can have a banquet, a wedding or something like (Shade ’N Shannon), so that was the idea.
Families rented the facility out for private Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, Amstutz says, and in successive weeks it was rented to celebrate a 1-year-old’s birthday and then a 90-year-old’s birthday.
There have also been several shows similar to Shade ’N Shannon, including a Jimmy Buffet cover band, with more scheduled in the upcoming months.
And the owners try to bring in shows that may benefit non-profits around the local community.
For instance, a portion of the proceeds for tonight’s show will benefit the Roanoke Public Library Building Corp. for its campaign to raise $250,000 for an upcoming move.
The library will also be selling food at the event to raise money.
We’re capitalists, but at the same time we believe in giving back, Amstutz says. We like to give back to the community, so we try to tie in nonprofits.
Jonze will be selling a CD of some of his Cash covers at the show, he says. Soon he will be recording original material in honor of his late wife.
She would always tell him to someday do his own music, Jonze says.
I have songs written, he says. It’s tentatively titled, God Took My Flower.’
In the meantime, Shade ’N Shannon have shows scheduled throughout 2013, with stops at the Paramount Theater in Anderson in September and back in Fort Wayne at the C2G Music Hall in October.