John Carter Cash, Rodney Crowell, Kris Kristofferson hold pre-Johnny Cash Music Festival press conference at ASU
Performing artists John Carter Cash, Rodney Crowell, and Kris Kristofferson spoke today at a press conference at Arkansas State University’s Convocation Center, 217 Olympic Drive, Jonesboro. The artists (along with others—see the complete lineup below) will perform tomorrow, Aug. 4, at 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center in the inaugural Johnny Cash Music Festival. Proceeds from the concert will go to the restoration of the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess and the establishment of a museum in the historic Administration Building, Dyess. Arkansas State University acquired the original Cash home earlier this summer.
ASU’s interim Chancellor Dr. G. Daniel Howard introduced the artists, and stated “this festival is amazing,” before noting that all the artists were contributing their time and talent to restore the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home. The artists addressed the assembled media, with John Carter Cash speaking first.
“I’m blessed to be here in northeast Arkansas, speaking for myself, my family, and my colleagues,” Cash said. “My father moved here as part of the New Deal with his family, onto forty acres of land where they grew cotton. 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.”
Cash mentioned that the concert and the restoration project it will fund had succeeded “beyond my greatest expectations.” He also noted that he and his sister Rosanne and other artists have been “preparing music now for weeks. People will hear some Johnny Cash songs and some original songs by the artists, and some family favorites.”
Cash then introduced Kris Kristofferson, saying “I don’t remember a time when Kris Kristofferson wasn’t in my life. He and my dad not only made music; they were brothers.” Kristofferson thanked Cash, and said, “I have a hard time thinking of John(ny Cash) as a friend; he was my hero. He was, and he still is. To be working on a tribute to him and his home is a real honor to me.” In answering questions from the media later, Kristofferson reiterated, “He was my hero all the way through; he was the reason I got out of the Army and went to Nashville. He was touched by God or something. I never lost my awe of Johnny Cash. “
John Carter Cash continued, “It’s about the heart; it’s about the spirit. It’s about bloodlines, too. The things my father believed in are being continued here. He was a child of Arkansas, a child of this area. The sweat and blood he put into this gumbo soil may be showing the flowering fruits of that now.” Carter then introduced Rodney Crowell, “the father,” he said, “of numerous of my nieces,” to appreciative chuckles from the audience. Carter continued, “Rodney is a part of it—his heart’s in it. He appreciates what this is about far beyond the music.”
“I’m particularly excited about being here,” said Crowell. “I don’t know of a more powerful presence I’ve ever been around…if there were a Mount Rushmore 2, Johnny Cash should be the first face on it.” Crowell feels connected to this part of Arkansas as well; his own father was born in Blytheville in 1923, and Aug. 4 would have marked his father’s 88th birthday.
As well as the assembled media, the audience included special guest and Memphis native Marshall Grant, upright bassist and electric bassist of singer Johnny Cash's original backing duo, the Tennessee Two, which included electric guitarist Luther Perkins, and Grant’s protégé, Jonesboro’s Denny Strickland, who will also perform at the concert. Matt Morris was also in the audience, and he, too, will perform at the concert.
The full concert lineup includes Kris Kristofferson, Rosanne Cash, John Carter and Laura Cash, Johnny's brother Tommy Cash and sister Joanne Cash, Rodney Crowell and daughter Chelsea Crowell, country music legend George Jones, bluegrass duo Dailey & Vincent, Gary Morris, Bill Miller, John Francis, and Denny Strickland.
John Carter Cash concluded the press event, saying “Thank you all for coming and being here—I’m so humbled. This is a true piece of history, and it and we are all connected into a much deeper and richer history, the people, the soil, the history that is yours and that is Arkansas.”
A limited number of tickets are still available at the ASU Box Office for $37.50 each, and may be purchased by calling (870) 972-2781, toll-free at 888-278-3267, or online at the Convocation Center or www.johnnycashmusicfest.com.