Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

A musical tribute to Kris Kristofferson

IMG_0313Roger Perry was six when he first heard a Kris Kristofferson song. Johnny Cash was on TV singing “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”

Perry couldn’t fully comprehend the song’s meaning at the time, but it stuck with him. It wasn’t until later, when Perry saw Kristofferson in the movie “Cisco Pike” that he became a true fan.

“I was hooked. He became one of my heroes,” says Perry, a local guitarist who, along with Vince Warner, hosts a tribute to Krisofferson Sunday night at Fulton 55 to coincide with the singer’s 78th brithday.

Kristofferson is an odd ball in the industry, a true renaissance man. He is Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, and also a hugely successful actor (you may have seen him in the “Blade” movies). He was also (in his younger days) a Golden Gloves boxer, a Rhodes Scholar and a captain in the United States Army.

And he wrote “Me and Bobby McGee.”

“That song is a part of the fabric of nature,” says Warner, who also considers Kristofferson a personal hero.

Perry, who did a similar tribute 14 years ago, says this show will be, in a way, the tribute Kristofferson didn’t get at this year’s Grammy Awards — where the singer was recognized for his lifetime achievement.

Kristofferson performed on the TV broadcast with Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Blake Shelton, whose inclusion ruined the show for Perry and set off a Facebook debate on the state of contemporary country music.

“That’s how this started,” Warner says. “I called Roger after debating the various merits of Blake Shelton.”

The show will feature close to 20 musicians interpreting the full scope of Kristofferson’s work in two sets. The first set will be low key and acoustic. The night will get progressively more rockin’, Warner says.

Fans of this kind of musical tribute should note Perry is planning a Leonard Cohen tribute Sept. 21 at Audie’s Olympic Tavern.

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