The Johnny Cash concert recorded by Owsley Stanley in 60s San Francisco

Article Contributed by Shore Fire Media | Published on Wednesday, June 23, 2021

On September 24, the Owsley Stanley Foundation and Renew Records/BMG will release Bear’s Sonic Journals: Johnny Cash, At The Carousel Ballroom, April 24 1968, an historic and never-heard live concert recorded in San Francisco by innovative sound wizard Owsley Stanley. Captured in the heart of Haight-Ashbury, just days before the release of Cash’s iconic At Folsom Prison album (and over six months before the arrival of the equally revered At San Quentin), At The Carousel Ballroom serves as a third essential - and wholly unique - live document from the era, a moment of cultural collision, with Cash leaning into songs about society’s outcasts, while playing a venue operated by The Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead.

The live album, which will be released on CD/2LP, features new essays by Johnny and June Carter Cash’s son John Carter Cash, Owsley Stanley’s son Starfinder Stanley, The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, and Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools, as well as new art by Susan Archie, and a reproduction of the original Carousel Ballroom concert poster by Steve Catron. The release will also be widely available in all digital formats by Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment.

Listen to “I’m Going to Memphis” from the Carousel Ballroom live recording now and pre-order the album here:

Read interviews with key players behind the release at Rolling Stone:

At The Carousel Ballroom captures Cash at the height of his charismatic powers, in playful and powerful dialogue with his then-new bride June Carter, and backed by his legendary band The Tennessee Three: guitarist Luther Perkins, bassist Marshall Grant and drummer W.S. Holland. His set list that evening diverged from other concerts of the time, as Cash chose to cover two Bob Dylan compositions (“Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright,” and his earliest known recording of “One Too Many Mornings”) and perform songs of the overlooked and underserved such as “The Ballad of Ira Hayes.”

Recorded by Stanley in a verité style, the album startles with its clarity and dimension. Many of the sound reproduction techniques that Stanley pioneered while serving as the in-house engineer at the Carousel are accepted sonic gospel today. When he listened back to the Cash concert, he knew he had captured something special, immediately earmarking it for preservation. This release marks the latest entry in the Owsley Stanley Foundation’s ‘Bear’s Sonic Journals’ series, which has previously included Stanley’s live recordings of The Allman Brothers Band, Tim Buckley, Doc & Merle Watson and many more.

“When you hear this, you feel like you are on the stage with the band,” says Starfinder. John Carter Cash agrees, describing At The Carousel Ballroom as “what I believe to be one of the most intimate and connected shows I have ever heard.


1. Cocaine Blues

2. Long Black Veil

3. Orange Blossom Special (CD and Digital only)

4. Going to Memphis

5. The Ballad of Ira Hayes

6. Rock Island Line

7. Guess Things Happen That Way

8. One Too Many Mornings

9. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

10. Give My Love to Rose

11. Green, Green Grass of Home

12. Old Apache Squaw

13. Lorena

14. Forty Shades of Green

15. Bad News

16. Jackson

17. Tall Lover Man

18. June's Song Introduction

19. Wildwood Flower

20. Foggy Mountain Top

21. This Land Is Your Land

22. Wabash Cannonball

23. Worried Man Blues

24. Long Legged Guitar Pickin' Man

25. Ring of Fire

26. Big River

27. Don't Take Your Guns to Town

28. I Walk the Line