Cash Back In Fayetteville

Cash Back In Fayetteville

Clinton House hosts month of music history


Most everybody knows that Johnny Cash was born in Arkansas — Feb. 26, 1932, in Kingsland (Cleveland County) — and grew up in Dyess, in Mississippi County.

And most everybody has heard of the concert that brought Cash back to the pinnacle of country music, the one at Folsom Prison on Jan. 13, 1968.

Neither his boyhood nor his epic jailhouse performance might seem to be linked to Fayetteville, but Angie Albright, director of the Clinton House Museum, is quick to make the connections.

“At the same time [Cash was making his comeback], he was touring Arkansas with then-Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, who was running for re-election,” Albright explains. “An important part of Rockefeller’s campaign was prison reform in Arkansas. Cash was a natural fit for Rockefeller’s campaign efforts and for promoting his prison reform efforts. In fact, Cash and Rockefeller gave a concert at Cummins Prison in 1969.

“But the Fayetteville connection is fantastic, also. Cash and Rockefeller brought their ‘show’ to Fayetteville on Sept. 17, 1968,” she continues. At that concert, guitarist Bob Wootton, another Arkansas native, came from Tulsa to see the show and wound up on stage playing guitar when Cash was shorthanded musically.

“Wootton ended being a part of Cash’s band for more than 30 years,” Albright explains. “And that happened in Fayetteville! Wootton even went on to marry Anita Carter, June’s sister.”

Of course, Albright knows the connections continue all the way to 1996, when Cash “was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, while President Bill Clinton was in office and hosted him at a White House reception for the honorees.”

So when she found the exhibit “1968: A Folsom Redemption,” she jumped at it.

“We have been looking for ways to offer temporary exhibits to keep things fresh at the museum,” she says. “When we came across ExhibitsUSA, we discovered that they offer exactly the sizes and types of things that are relatively simple for us to exhibit. The Johnny Cash exhibit was an obvious choice when we came across it, in part because of its subject matter, and in part because of the dates of its availability.”

That concert Cash played in Fayetteville? It happened on Sept. 17, 1968. And on Sept. 17, 2019, the museum will kick off its monthlong tribute to Cash with a History Happy Hour: The Man in Black from 6 to 8 p.m. On Sept. 24, a lecture, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Prison Reform: Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison,” will feature Lisa Corrigan, author of the nationally acclaimed book “Prison Power: How Prison Influenced the Movement for Black Liberation.”

“This talk examines the importance of Cash’s recording at Folsom in light of his longstanding role, in Arkansas and across the country, as a prison reform advocate,” Albright says. It’s part of the Atkinson Speaker Series, which “gives area residents the opportunity to learn about Arkansas culture, history, and politics from noted leaders in their fields,” according to Albright.

Events continue in October with journalist Gene Beley, who accompanied Cash to Folsom, on Oct. 2, and on Oct. 17, the Clinton Anniversary Dinner: Celebrating Arkansas Icons. The “1968: A Folsom Redemption” exhibit will remain on show through Oct. 20.

“I’m excited about this being our first time to host a traveling exhibit and that it is one with so much meaning on so many different levels,” Albright says. “The exhibit itself offers viewers a chance to think about what ‘redemption’ means, not just for Cash, but for ourselves. The programs and events we’re doing only enhance that. I’m excited that our organization is providing our community, and all visitors from near and far, the opportunity to think deeply about a native Arkansan and the role he has played in social justice reform and local history.”



‘1968: A Folsom Redemption’

WHEN — Through Oct. 20

WHERE — Clinton House Museum, 930 W. Clinton Drive in Fayetteville

COST — Free

INFO — 444-0066



Related Events

Sept. 24 — Rock ‘n’ Roll Prison Reform: Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, 6-8 p.m., Fayetteville Town Center. Free.

Oct. 2 — Journalist in Concert: Gene Beley at Folsom Prison, 6-8 p.m., Fayetteville Town Center. Free.

Oct. 17 — Clinton Anniversary Dinner: Celebrating Arkansas Icons, 6 p.m., Clinton House. $75.

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