Get Your Johnny Cash OnBy Megan Murphy
BY JAMIE JORDAN
“Folsom Prison Blues” by Sacramento-based Romo Studios (Rendering courtesy of artist)
On Oct. 14, the city of Folsom will unveil the completed Johnny Cash Trail, nearly 50 years after the country singer’s legendary performance at the nearby state prison. The new stretch will double the length of the 1.25-mile bike, pedestrian and equestrian trail that opened in 2014, and will be the future path of an public art walk and a 3-acre park with a guitar-shaped plaza slated for completion within five years.
The trail marks Folsom’s first formal tribute to Cash, a lifelong advocate of prison reform, who played “Folsom Prison Blues” during an iconic concert at the local facility on Jan. 13, 1968, during which he recorded the live album At Folsom Prison.
“That song is why people around the world have heard of Folsom and Folsom [State] Prison,” says Robert Goss, the city’s director of parks and recreation. “For this community, Johnny Cash made Folsom probably more famous than any other historical thing, because he was an international recording star. That’s something to celebrate.”
The Johnny Cash Trail project, which has already received national attention from Rolling Stone and The Wall Street Journal, will eventually include a public art walk with seven pieces created by midtown-based artist Adan Romo and one piece by the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany near Chicago. The eight artworks including a 40-foot-tall statue of the Man in Black; an art piece titled Folsom Prison Blues showing Cash playing his guitar laser-cut onto steel bars; and the Ring of Fire, perched on the highest vantage point of the trail and comprising a circle of steel guitar pick “flames” that are illuminated by LEDs at night. Watch a video on the design process below.
“The Cash family said that if Johnny Cash were in the room, these are the [works] that he would have selected,” Romo says.
The grand opening festivities on Oct. 14, which will raise funds for the art installations, will begin with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 8:30 a.m., followed by a community bike ride, a 10k race, a 4.25-mile fun run and a festival featuring a concert by Sacramento bluegrass-folk duo Manzanita. At 5 p.m., Kevin Marcy, who as a member of the band The Marcy Brothers opened for Cash and his wife June Carter in 1990, will perform during a farm-to-fork dinner prepared by Michelin-starred chef Duncan Holmes and his mother Karen, who owns the popular Karen’s Bakery in Folsom. The dinner will be served on the Robbers’ Ravine Bridge.
“[Johnny] was such a huge persona, but when you talked to him he was just a really nice guy,” Marcy says. “I think this would be a milestone in his life to have so many people out here on the West Coast supporting such a pillar of country music and a huge influence on a town.”
To help fund the completion of the Johnny Cash Trail, locals can contribute by purchasing cycling jerseys, framed commemorative license plates made by Folsom State Prison inmates, and personalized steel plaques that will grace a donor wall that overlooks the future site of the Johnny Cash Legacy Park.
For more information on the trail and fundraiser, visit folsomcasharttrail.com.