LARS Pluto seems like an unlikely name for a country star, and it is.
For as “CityNews” found when we caught up with the Atlanta-born singer-guitarist, he was once dubbed “Pluto” by the host of a show looking for a superhero name for him, and it stuck. But alas, now that Pluto has been demoted from its planetary status, “I’m more of an underdog,” he jokes.
Nowadays Pluto lives in Devon, England, from which his group Lars Pluto and The Reavers conduct a busy touring schedule, but he’s also been performing as Roy Orbison and songwriter Boudleaux Bryant in “Walk Right Back”, the story of the Everly Brothers, and as Johnny Cash and also Willie Nelson in a show about to come here.
Audiences can sing along, so you can fairly bet the coming production, “Nashville Live”, with 44 timeless hit songs, including “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Crazy”, “Jolene”, “Walk the Line” and “Stand By Your Man” will bring Canberra’s country tragics out of the woodwork in droves.
“For me, Johnny Cash is much closer to my upbringing than some of the other characters I play,” Pluto says.
“My grandfather came from the same town as Johnny Cash [Kingsland, Arkansas] and when I’m singing and talking, it’s like my grandfather is with me.
“I don’t dress up as Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson, but we do celebrate the music of the Grand Ole Opry and its weekly broadcasts.”
The Opry in Nashville is, of course, both a place and the longest-running radio broadcast in US history.
The show coming to Canberra is structured as if it’s a live performance at the Opry.
“In the show we all play ourselves. I do Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson songs, and other people do Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline and all the greats of country music, as well as the contemporary artists like Shania Twain, Garth Brooks and the Dixie Chicks,” he says.
Pluto says he has a natural connection to Nashville, appearing on stage there when he was aged five before moving to New York City at 20. He knows there have been dramatic changes in the country music scene in recent years and there’s even a southern brand of rap, but it’s all part of a continuum.
“People there were listening to this music before electricity, all the great musicians have all gone to Nashville… music is part of the fabric, walking down the street you hear sounds coming out of bars, music is all around you,” Pluto says.
“Nashville Live”, The Playhouse, Thursday, March 14. Book at canberratheatrecentre.com.au