Last Friday, Roseanne Cash daughter of the late Johnny Cash hosted a shindig up in Jonesboro, Ark., and we had to go. This was the second annual Johnny Cash Music Festival held to raise money for the restoration of Cash’s boyhood home, and create a scholarship in his name. The lineup included fellow Highwayman Willie Nelson, Roseanne Cash, The Civil Wars, and Dierks Bentley. We were stoked.
I decided to borrow my fiance’s car for the drive since it was a great little two-door roadster, and invited my good friend Josh to accompany me. As we left Little Rock, it was about 85 degrees and windy. There was a cold front moving and we knew it was going to storm. Josh decided to be the DJ for the drive and rolled out the hits as we prepared for the concert that evening. “Seven Year Ache” by Roseanne Cash, “City of New Orleans” “The Road Goes on Forever” “Goodhearted Woman” “Highwaymen” all by The Highwaymen and a couple Dierks Bentley songs.
As we rolled into Jonesboro, the storm was at its heaviest. It was pouring, I was driving a standard, and I was in a city I haven’t been to in 15 years. We began heading towards Arkansas State University to the pre-show press conference with the artists and other Cash family members. We came to a stoplight behind four cars. Then we were rear-ended and slammed into the car in front of us, who slammed into the next car, who slammed into the next car, who slammed into the next car. Anyway you get the picture—it was a six car pile up.
After we realized no one was hurt, it began to sink in that we were not going to make the press conference. I was upset. I was mad. I yelled at the guy driving the conversion van that slammed into us.
The woman in the car in front of us was also headed to the show and offered to give us a ride since it had also become clear that my fiance’s car was totaled. By the time we made it to the show we had missed the press conference and Roseanne Cash’s performance. We were still upset and pretty sore.
Willie Nelson was up next, he was fantastic. It’s hard to believe that Willie is nearly 80 and can still put on such a great show. He played a great set featuring, “Whiskey River” and “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”
Next were The Civil Wars. If you have not listened to them—do it. They are fantastic. This was the act I was really looking forward to hearing and they did not disappoint. The Civil Wars are a mash-up of old school country and bluegrass with a touch of Celtic folk. They played “Barton Hollow” and did a fantastic cover of the Cash classic “Delia’s Gone.”
The Civil Wars are made up of Joy Williams and John Paul White. The pair met in Nashville in 2008 and clearly have creative and on-stage chemistry. Their first album released in 2011 “Barton Hollow” brought them a Grammy Award for best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Folk Album. Most of their songs are accompanied by a solo guitar and Joy and John Paul’s voices in harmony. Josh observed that Joy moved like Stevie Nicks on stage. (It should be noted that Josh sculpted a bust of Stevie Nicks in high school.)
Josh and soon began to realize we didn’t know how we were getting home. Then the nice woman who gave us a ride to the show offered to give us a ride back since she was heading there anyway. Could not have worked out any better. Come to find out on the two-hour drive home, Josh’s mom and our new friend played tennis together. We skipped Dierks Bentley, everyone said he was great but we had just had enough
for one night.
On the whole, the evening was a success. I was hoping for a chance to talk to The Civil Wars but I guess that will have to wait for another time. The concert was also a big success raising $200,000 for the restoration of the Cash Homestead.
For more information on the Johnny Cash Music Festival log onto johnnycashmusicfest.com.