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“1968: A Folsom Redemption” is a candid photography exhibition covering a critical juncture in the career of Johnny Cash, one of the 20th century’s most beloved performers. This collection of photographs and memories was captured by two journalists who witnessed the historic Johnny Cash concerts at Folsom Prison. “1968: A Folsom Redemption” will be on view June 20-Aug.13 at Chandler Museum.
Photo credit: Dan Poush, Johnny on Stage, Wide, January 13, 1968; digital scan from original negative, 20 x 13 3/8 inches; Courtesy of the John R. Cash Revocable Trust, photographed by Dan Poush.
In January 1968, Johnny Cash was at a crossroads. After a slow decline in popularity, Cash needed a smash hit. He had recently straightened out his life and was looking for redemption. Under new leadership at his record label, Cash was finally able to convince them of the merits of a live recording in a prison setting.
Cash had been performing for inmates as far back as 1957 when he received a stream of requests from prisoners who identified with the man who sang “Folsom Prison Blues.” The connection he developed with prisoners during these concerts made him increasingly sympathetic to those he would later call “the downtrodden.”
Working as freelance journalists, photographer Dan Poush and writer Gene Beley met with Cash and his family the day before the concerts. Cash, along with opening acts Carl Perkins and the Statler Brothers, performed two separate shows in the dining hall at Folsom.
Capturing Cash’s ability to connect with his audience, the recordings crackled with the excitement of an adoring crowd. The resulting album, “At Folsom Prison,” was released four months later to critical and popular acclaim.
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.
“1968: A Folsom Redemption” takes the viewer right into the heart of this pivotal moment in the life and career of one of the twentieth century’s most cherished musical personalities.
“1968: A Folsom Redemption” is organized by ExhibitsUSA, a program of Mid-America Arts Alliance, and will be on view at the Chandler Museum from June 20-Aug. 13, 2023. Chandler Museum is located at 300 S. Chandler Village Drive.
open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1-5 p.m. and closed on Mondays. Admission is free. Find more information on the exhibitions and programming online at Chandler Museum or call 480-782-2717.