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Johnny Cash Bootleg Recordings Document His Global Appeal

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Johnny Cash fans can be found the world over, so it’s fitting that the recordings on his ‘Bootleg Vol. 3: Live Around the World’ collection come from points as far apart as the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island (July 1964) and Osteraker Prison in Sweden (October 1972).

This new set of recordings, set for an October 11 release, showcase Johnny live from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. In addition to the aforementioned venues, the 50 musical performances come from the singer’s concerts at the Big “D” Jamboree in Dallas (1956); New River Ranch, a country hoedown in rural Rising Sun, Md. (1962); a USO Tour stop at Annex 14 NCO Club, Long Binh, Vietnam (1969); The White House at the invitation of President Nixon (April 1970); CBS Records Convention in Nashville (1973); The Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Va. (1976); the Wheeling Jamboree in Wheeling, W.Va. (October 1976); and the Exit/In in Nashville (1979).

The Big “D” Jamboree recordings feature the Tennessee Two — Luther Perkins on electric guitar and Marshall Grant on bass. By the time they played the New River Ranch show in 1962, the duo had added W.S. “Fluke” Holland and were called the Tennessee Three.

The Newport Folk Festival was a groundbreaking performance for Johnny. He was introduced by folk veteran Pete Seeger, and was on the same stage where Bob Dylan made his second appearance as a solo acoustic folksinger. Scholars agree that Johnny helped bridge the gap from commercial country to contemporary folk. He performed eight songs that day, including Dylan’s ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright’ and Peter LaFarge’s ‘Ballad of Ira Hayes,’ along with the Carter Family‘s ‘Keep on the Sunny Side,’ with ‘Rock Island Line.’

Johnny played for the soldiers at the NCO Club in Long Binh at the height of the Vietnam War along with June and Carl Perkins. He took June and her sister Anita to the White House, along with the Carter Family, Carl and the Statler Brothers for a 12-song set. President Nixon introduced the singer and his entourage for that performance.

The CD set features three tracks from the Swedish prison, including the singer’s version of Gene Autry‘s ‘That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine.’ Songwriter and producer “Cowboy” Jack Clement joins Johnny at the Exit/In performance. the singer performs in his wife’s native Virginia for the Carter Family Fold performance, accompanies by a pianist for that show.

“As his respectability grew, Johnny Cash decided to represent the people he came from,” music scholar Dave Marsh conveys in the liner notes for the CD package. “Their stories and struggles were his — he was, still, the man who began picking cotton for a living at age five. At the same time, he didn’t spend a lot of time telling those people what they wanted to hear, either. If, at the White House, he spoke truth to power (albeit in the most gentlemanly fashion), night after night, he did something more difficult, and more important: He spoke truth to power. Most often it was not a political truth; it was an emotional truth. But emotional truth, for most of us, is even harder to come by.”

The deluxe double-CD package comes just prior to the October 18 release of ‘House of Cash: The Life, Legacy and Archives of the Man in Black,’ a book written by Johnny’s son, John Carter Cash. The memoir and biography also includes many color and black and white photographs along with numerous keepsake facsimile documents from the Cash family archive. The CD set and the book go hand-in-hand in a manner of speaking. After Johnny and June passed away, John Carter and his wife, Laura, were going through many of the couple’s personal items, and found unpublished photos, poetry and songs, master tapes dating back to the mid-’50s, sketches, film reels, audio tapes, and “strange hats, guitar cases, harmonicas and more,” according to John Carter. “The songs, poetry, and other writings; the images; and artifacts offered a deeper glimpse of who my father really was. It became my mission to share what I felt he would have liked people to know about him. This is the essence of this book.”

The first of the Bootleg series was released in May of 2006 on Columbia/Legacy, with the release of ‘Personal File aka Bootleg Vol. 1,’ a double CD of 49 privately recorded solo performances by the Man in Black dating from 1973 to 1982. Four years later, ‘From Memphis to Hollywood: Bootleg Vol. 2′ came along. The set included early recordings from Johnny’s time with Sun Records in Memphis from late 1954 to late 1957, then on into his first decade with Columbia Records in Nashville, 1958-1969. It was during the latter years that Johnny began making film and television appearances.

‘Bootleg Vol. 3: Live Around the World’ will be available on October 11 on Columbia/Legacy Recordings.

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