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Johnny Cash Music Festival rocks ASU

Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012

Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 15:10

cash fest

Ashley Helliwell, Sports Editor

Rosanne Cash sings alongside her aunt and uncle, Joanne Cash Yates and Tommy Cash, Dierks Bently and the Civil Wars during the finale of the second annual Johnny Cash Music Festival at the Convocation Center Friday night.

dierks bently

Staci Vandagriff, Photo Editor

Dierks Bently performed at the second annual Johnny Cash Music Festival at the Convocation Center Friday night. Proceeds from this year’s benefit will make it possible to open the boyhood home of Johnny Cash open for visitors.

The Johnny Cash Festival Friday night at the Convocation Center brought in about $200,000 for the restoration of Johnny Cash’s boyhood home in Dyess, and plans for the third annual Johnny Cash music festival are already underway.

The house is part of a restoration project obtained by ASU. A museum with exhibits related to Cash, historical markers, biking/hiking trails, and a theater are also part of the restoration project.

Ruth Hawkins, director of Arkansas Heritage Sites at ASU and the project director for the Johnny Cash Boyhood Hometown Restoration Project, said so far about $400,000 has been raised for the restoration of the home.

“We have projected the total restoration (including furnishings) at $470,750 so we are close to finishing the house,” Hawkins said.

Rosanne Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash, welcomed the audience to the festival and said she couldn’t be more thrilled to see so many fans of her dad in the crowd to help support the restoration of his boyhood home.

“This isn’t just a home that my dad grew up in,” Cash said. “But also where my aunt Joanne and Uncle Tommy grew up. It’s such an honor to be here tonight for this great cause.”

Before each song, she told a story about the meaning behind the song or album the song was from. She said when she was 18, at the back of her dad’s tour bus, her dad gave her a list of 100 songs she needed to know. She then turned that collection of songs into an album called “The List” and sang a couple of songs from that album.

Cash said she was honored to have most of her family in the audience. Her cousins, aunts and uncles were included in the mix. She also honored two special guests who received the Johnny Cash scholarship awards last year, Heather Myers and Ryan Larow.

The festival lasted about four hours long, and in between band transitions audience members were shown old talk shows featuring Johnny Cash telling some of his personal stories.

Gabbi Grinder, a freshman accounting major of Eads, Tenn., said, “My favorite part was going to the stage and being about five feet from Dierks Bentley. He was the one I was most excited to see. I was so happy to be at the show and help support Johnny Cash’s home.”

 Willie Nelson also performed, dressed in his cowboy hat, black jeans and a black T-shirt. During the middle of his performance, he threw down his hat on the stage and took out his signature red bandana to throw into the crowd.

As the Civil Wars appeared on stage, Cash said, “We may lose people, but their music is never lost.” She said she would never lose hope in music with such great young artists in this generation.

Joy Williams and John Paul White of The Civil Wars said at the end of their performance they were honored to have been asked to play at the festival. White said he grew up listening to Johnny Cash and he was thrilled to be on stage performing his songs.

Dierks Bentley, the last performer of the night, said he was happy Rosanne was a part of the restoration of her father’s boyhood home. Bentley said his last name meant everything to him, and Cash’s dad would be really proud of her and the rest of her family for helping out with the Cash home restoration project.


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