Married couple bring country music love story to life

Joanne and Mark Caligiuri in Get Rhythm. (Supplied) 371128_02

Matt Hewson

Real-life husband and wife duo Mark and Joanne Caligiuri bring their renowned Johnny Cash and June Carter show to Geelong this month.

The two met in 2005 at one of Mark’s Elvis tribute shows when Joanne and her sister volunteered to get onstage and dance as part of the performance.

Soon after, the pair were dating, and shortly after they saw the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line together Joanne’s suggested they do a Johnny and June tribute together.

“Jo introduced me to Johnny Cash music, as I wasn’t very familiar with it,” Mark said.

“She showed me some of his music after going to see the movie… I loved it straight away and when she said we should create a show I was excited about it.”

They began working on the show straight away, and in 2007 began performing as country music’s most beloved couple.

When the pandemic struck in 2020 the Caligiuri’s expanded the show further, bringing in Mark’s sons Lucas (drums) and Chris (double bass) and cousin Adam Prozzo (lead guitar).

“During lockdown I said to Mark I really wanted to focus on this show more, make it bigger,” Joanne said.

“All of a sudden, out of nowhere Mark’s boys contacted us and said, hey, we would love to join in. It was a beautiful surprise. We started getting together as a family, that was our thing every week, and even now we get together weekly, have lunch and play music.

“And just recently we’ve added a couple of trumpet players and another guitarist. It’s amazing to see how quickly it’s grown in a short time.”

Joanne said the couple’s real-life romance lended an extra dimension to their Cash and Carter show.

“Being a married couple, we absolutely love the chance to be up on stage and be connected and play on these characters,” she said.

“A lot of the feedback we get is that the audience gets to see an authentic show; it’s very real, very sincere.

“Also, we focus more on the earlier Cash (material), so it’s very energetic, it’s a lot of fun. We try to make people feel better, uplifted; that’s our goal, to make people feel good.”

Get Rhythm: The Johnny Cash and June Carter Show is at Palais Geelong on Saturday, November 18.