Friday To-Do: Johnny Cash Music Festival | Rock Candy

Friday To-Do: Johnny Cash Music Festival

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Willie Nelson plays the Johnny Cash Music Festival, Friday at Arkansas State University.
  • Willie Nelson plays the Johnny Cash Music Festival, Friday at Arkansas State University.

JOHNNY CASH MUSIC FESTIVAL
7 p.m. ASU Convocation Center. $38-$150.

Last year's inaugural Johnny Cash Music Festival was a fantastic, emotional show with some fine, if brief, performances from many members of the Cash family and an array of country and folk music greats who knew and loved the man.

To keep the momentum up for the second year, the organizers at Arkansas State University were going to have to have a great lineup, and they have come through. Granted, there aren't as many performers this year, but it's a fantastic lineup.

Rosanne Cash was excellent as both performer and host and she returns this year. With their beautiful close harmonies and air of un-Nashville hipness, newcomer duo The Civil Wars will likely appeal to the grayer heads in the crowd as well as the younger ones. Dierks Bentley is the sort of quality, mainstream country marquee name that'll draw crowds.

And Willie Nelson, well, what do you say about a living legend who was actually in a band with Johnny Cash? He's a bona fide cultural icon, one of the most recognizable musicians on the planet whose career has spanned SEVEN decades. The man wrote "Crazy" for crying out loud!

I saw him in 2009 with Dylan. He took to the stage at about 7:30 p.m., the hot Texas sun beating down on him and the band. And you know what? He kicked ass. He was 76 years old then, and he absolutely kicked ass. They opened with "Whiskey River" and did not let up for 90 minutes or so. Maybe they'll bring him back for next year's Cash festival.


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