Johnny Cash Folsom Prison Concert Anniversary Going Uncelebrated?

Today, January 13, 2008, marks the anniversary of a legendary event in the country music and rock and roll worlds. It was exactly 40 years ago today that Johnny Cash played his infamous Folsom Prison show. As much as this was a fantastic concert event, it was also a statement about who Johnny Cash was as a man. That comes through in the resulting recordings, which would remain on the Billboard's Top 200 charts for 122 weeks and has since become a must have classic for anyone who considers themselves any kind of a rock/pop/country music aficionado.

I was pretty excited about this 40th anniversary because I assumed there would be plans to commemorate the event at least in some way. Sure enough, the music community didn't disappoint as a tribute concert was planned to take place at the same Folsom Prison, led by Cash's long-time drummer WS Fluke Holland with several members from Cash's original band and some other special guest vocalists. The show was even scheduled to be streamed over the Internet, something I was looking forward to checking out, and was to support four nonprofit groups.

Unfortunately though, the event has been canceled and so it appears that at least for the most part, this anniversary is going uncelebrated.

Certain officials are citing security concerns and problems with filming rights and media access as the reasons for the cancellation while others cite broken promises by prison officials. Now, in very adult fashion, prison officials and promoters are all pointing the finger at each other in an effort to shuffle blame and responsibility.

I think the fact that no one is owning up to dropping the ball on this one is very telling. On first glance it really seems to point to this being less about "security concerns" and more about "filming rights"... aka money. That does seem to contradict the fact that profit was supposed to go towards nonprofit groups, but still. I don't know the whole story, it just all seems more than a little shady to me and as if a few people's priorities were in the wrong place. To be honest, at this point I don't even want to know the whole story. The facts of the matter are that although some people were obviously passionate about this event taking place, no one stepped up and made sure that all the pieces fell into place and so we the fans, miss out on what should have been a very moving tribute and commemoration.

Maybe I'm judging the people involved just a little too hard, but when no one can even have the guts to step up and say... "ok it was our fault, we didn't get everything cleared away like we should"... or... "we were too busy squabbling over media rights"... or even... "we just couldn't come to an agreement with prison officials because of 'insert security concern here'"... then I might not be so quick to make snap judgments.

Oh well, it's too late now. I know I'll be commemorating this event by listening to the album and plenty of other Johnny Cash tracks, so feel free to do the same. It's just a shame that we couldn't have had nice tribute concert at the original venue. I think the Man in Black would have liked that.

- The Soul of Rock 'n' Roll is a division of Fifth Column Media - www.fifthcolumnmedia.com -