Johnny Cash’s Tennessee Ranch Transformed into Storytellers Museum
The farm and local town were a refuge for Cash.
Johnny Cash’s Tennessee ranch and a local general store which also served as a music venue for Cash opened to the public last week as the Storytellers Museum and Hideaway Farm, in honor of the late singer’s love of the ranch and the local area.
The farm has been lovingly restored by its owners Brian and Sally Oxley. Brian Oxley discovered the music of Johnny Cash three years ago and became an ardent fan to the extent that he bought the 107-acre Bon Aqua ranch in 2015, for $895,000. The farm still contained Cash’s last car, and an arbor he had built for his family.
On moving in, Oxley discovered an old VHS tape with a recording of a performance held at a local convenience store, owned by Cash, celebrating 20 years of making music in 1975. Oxley was so moved that he bought the then decrepit building with a view of restoring it and the small stage in the back to what they were, and staging musical events for the local community.
“We used to sing here on Saturday nights,” Cindy Cash told the Tennessean in May. “Us girls would get up on stage and sing whatever we wanted … we’d sell lemonade and cookies that we made. We would take turns singing, or sing together, and Dad would get up there, too. It was so neat because it was just the locals. We didn’t advertise: If you saw a piece of paper on the door, you knew there’d be singing that night.”
The Cash’s set up the venue for fun and as most people in their local neighborhood couldn’t afford to travel to bigger venues to see live music. The local “Saturday Night in Hickman County” gigs performed by the Cash family were advertised with a small poster on the door and were free of charge.
“We want to make this more of an experience than a museum,” Brian Oxley told the Tennessean.
Cash acquired Bon Aqua in the early 1970s after he found out his accountant had been embezzling funds to invest in real estate. He sold off everything his accountant had illegally bought with his money but kept Bon Aqua after falling in love with the place.
“For me in ’72, it was love at first sight … a place that moved into my heart immediately, a place I knew I could belong,” Cash wrote in his autobiography.
The Storyteller’s Museum and Farm are open to the public with live music played at the museum every day. The museum houses memorabilia such as guitars, letters, and photographs while the farm and lands have been restored for viewing.
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