Rosanne Cash, daughter of the Man in Black, opened the Johnny Cash Music Festival singing “Pickin’ Time,” a tune her father wrote about the cotton fields on the family farm in Dyess, Ark. The concert benefits the restoration of Johnny Cash’s boyhood home in the Arkansas Delta. “There are four generations of Cashes here tonight,” said Rosanne. “And if it wasn’t for that little house, none of us would be here.”
Country music star Johnny Cash grew up in this humble house with his parents and four siblings from the age of 3 in 1935 until he graduated from high school. Restoration has begun on the structure, which will be part of the Johnny Cash Museum and Boyhood Home in Dyess, Ark.
The first annual Johnny Cash Music Festival wound down after four hours as all of the performers and Cash family members congregated on the stage to join voices in “Angel Band” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”
Tommy Cash, Johnny’s brother, sang “Five Feet High and Rising” and “I Walk the Line,” while sister Joanne Cash Yates shared fond memories of their mother and her garden before performing “Suppertime.”
Rodney Crowell, right, and former wife Rosanne Cash, left, teamed on “Don’t Need No Memories Hanging Round” before enlisting their daughter, Chelsea Crowell, on “Get Rhythm.”
Dailey & Vincent, the reigning bluegrass Entertainers of the Year, practically stole the show with an a capella rendition of “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder” and a rousing version of “Daddy Sang Bass,” a 1968 No. 1 country hit for Johnny Cash that was written by his pal Carl Perkins.
Gary Morris, left, and Matt Morris, wowed concert-goers with their mesmerizing father-and-son harmonies on “Wind Beneath My Wings” and “Hallelujah.” Gary also did “God’s Gonna Cut You Down,” a song that Johnny Cash recorded before his death in 2003 and released on his 2006 album American V: A Hundred Highways.
George Jones warbled several tunes, concluding with his legendary hit, “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” “It’s for my old buddy, Johnny Cash,” he said. “He was the best friend I ever had. He helped me in my hard times and gave me work, and I'll never forget him.”
Singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson entertained with “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Good Morning, John,” “Why Me Lord” and his favorite Cash song, “Big River.” “I have a hard time thinking of John (Johnny Cash) as a friend; he was my hero,” Kristofferson said. “He was, and he still is. To be working on a tribute to him and his home is a real honor to me.”
Johnny Cash’s son and daughter-in-law, John Carter Cash and Laura Cash, perform “If I Were a Carpenter,” a tune that was a hit for Johnny Cash and wife June Carter Cash back in the 1960s. “My father moved here as part of the New Deal with his family, onto 40 acres of land where they grew cotton,” said John Carter Cash. “Although we are paying homage to that legacy, we are also moving forward, looking further into the future. It’s been quite a journey. We celebrate the history of my father’s music, but it’s also about rebuilding Dyess.”
A crowd of more than 7,000 heard nearly 40 songs from the family and friends of the Man in Black at the Johnny Cash Music Festival. Tickets sales garnered $310,000 that will fund the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home Project. The concert will become a PBS-TV special.
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