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SPRUCE PINE — On Thursday, June 20, the Orchard at Altapass will host the first of several evening performances during its summer season.

From 6 to 7:30 p.m., Terry Hammond will pay a musical tribute to Country Music Hall of Fame recipient, Johnny Cash. Hammond’s concert will feature several of Cash’s popular songs interspersed with stories of his life and struggles.

Cash, who recorded his first song in 1955, gained notoriety with “I Walk the Line” from his “Folsom Prison Blues” album. It topped country music charts in 1957. Almost a half-century later, his last concert was performed to a sold-out audience.

When Hammond heard Mother Maybell Carter and the Carter Sisters’ rendition of “Wild Wood Flower,” the guitar riffs seemed to drown out the words, leaving the music to resonate within. He took the money he had saved and ordered his first guitar. The year was 1953; he was 15. It was on this $17 Sears instrument that he practiced Mother Maybell Carter’s song until he learned some basic chords and could play a few other songs.

Fast forward a couple of years — Hammond met the music of Johnny Cash, an up-and-coming renegade country guitar-playing singer. Cash made an impression that marked Hammond for decades.

When Hammond retired in 1999, he began researching the history of country music and the life of Johnny Cash — a man he had come to appreciate for his music, his struggles and his faith.

“A Tribute to Johnny Cash” will reflect on Hammond’s research and his respect for the man. Cash died at the age of 71 in 2003, but his music remains as iconic as the man himself.

“I am not a great musician, nor a great singer,” Hammond confessed, “but genuinely enjoy sharing my knowledge of Johnny Cash … and hope that others will derive as much pleasure as I do.”

The concert begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 20. Tickets will be available at the door for $10. Come early to get a good seat. The Orchard General Store will be open and offering refreshments.

For more information, visit www.altapassorchard.org and The Orchard At Altapass Facebook page for current updates and happenings. The Orchard, located at 1025 Orchard Road, Spruce Pine, on the Blue Ridge Parkway (mm 328.3), is a non-profit working orchard, entertainment and education venue dedicated to the preservation of Orchard lands and the culture of the region.

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