Johnny Cash Music Festival was solid entertainment

Posted: August 16, 2014 at 12:16 a.m.

JONESBORO — The fourth annual Johnny Cash Music Festival, held at the Convocation Center at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro on Friday night, featured nearly four hours of solid entertainment by a trio of Country Music Hall of Fame members — Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, and Bobby Bare.

The all-star show, paying tribute to the late country music legend and Arkansas native Johnny Cash, kicked off at shortly after 7 p.m. and was emceed by Christian singer and comedian Mark Lowry.

The event raises funds for the restoration of Cash’s boyhood home and other landmarks in nearby Dyess and also provides for scholarships for ASU students. The first concert was held in August 2011, then moved the next year to October before returning to an August date in 2013.

First to the stage was Loretta Lynn and her eight-piece band the Coal Miners. Performing 13 songs, she began with “They Don’t Make ‘em Like My Daddy Anymore” and closed with “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

Lynn’s career spans more than 50 years with her first Top 10 hit, “Success” released in 1962. She is best known for her hit single, album, and best-selling autobiography, “The Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Through the years, she has amassed 52 Top 10 hits, 16 No. 1 songs, and in 1972 was award the Country Music Association’s “Best Female Vocalist” award for the second time.

Next, Bobby Bare, dressed all in black in tribute to Cash and “I Still Miss Someone,” sang 10 songs including “Detroit City” and “Marie Laveau.”

Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame last year, Bare has been writing and recording hits for more than half a century. His first Top 20 hit, “Shame on Me” charted in 1962. Since then, he has recorded 30 Top 20 country hits and landed a Grammy for his recording of “Detroit City.”

Reba McEntire closed the show, performing 21 songs. She ended the evening with an encore of her hit “Fanny” after changing into a sparkling red dress and matching pumps. McEntire has sold more than 56 million albums and has hits spanning four decades. She has won numerous awards including two Grammys and 7 Country Music Association awards.

To date, the Johnny Cash benefit shows have raised about $750,000 and this year the show sold out with more than 7,000 fans attending from 30 different states and four foreign countries.

Now the public is being invited to visit Johnny Cash’s restored boyhood home at 4791 W. County Road 924, in Dyess about 45 miles southeast of Jonesboro, with a grand opening held today. Aug. 16

Arkansas State acquired the 1,120-square-foot clapboard 1930s home in 2011. After its complete restoration, the home was filled with period furnishings and household items, replicating how the home appeared between 1935 and 1954 when the Cash family resided there. Cash’s surviving siblings Tommy and Joanne gave guidance on how the home appeared during that time.

Dyess was a community established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s as a Depression-era agricultural resettlement colony. As a part of the New Deal program, it offered an opportunity for destitute farmers, who were given 20 or 40 acres of farmland, a mule, a small home and money to buy food and plant crops. In return, if the farmers were successful, they would reimburse the government.

The project, originally known as “Colonization Project No. 1” featured 16,000 acres acquired by the federal government and developed a Town Center and farmsteads for 500 families chosen from the welfare rolls.