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'Folsom Prison' memories at Texas museum


The Kilgore College East Texas Oil Museum in Kilgore, Texas, is currently featuring an exhibit celebrating the historic Johnny Cash concerts at Folsom Prison.

The exhibit, “1968: A Folsom Redemption,” is a collection of photographs and memoirs of two journalists lucky enough to be among a handful of eyewitnesses to the historic Johnny Cash concerts at the prison.

These candid and personal photos taken by Dan Push and memoirs by writer Gene Beley give visitors a rare look into the career of Cash, one of the 20th Century’s most beloved performers.

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Cash had been performing for inmates since 1957 when he received a stream of requests from prisoners who identified with the man who sang “Folsom Prison Blues.” “This connection developed with prisoners during these concerts made him increasingly sympathetic to those he would later call ‘the downtrodden,’” said Olivia Moore, museum director.

Along with opening acts Carl Perkins and the Statler Brothers, Cash performed and recorded two separate shows in the dining hall at Folsom. The resulting album was released four months later to critical and widespread acclaim.

This exhibit displays a collection of 31 photos featuring a wide range of intimate images with friends and family to a backstage meeting between Cash and country music legend Merle Haggard.

“Beley’s first-person account of those days, and his knowledge of the storylines at work behind the scenes, make this a fascinating exploration of the little-known aspects of a well-known event in popular culture,” Moore said.

The photo exhibit will run through May 21 at the museum and is part of the Mid-America Arts Alliance.


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