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Johnny Cash, family cozy up to audience

American music legend Johnny Cash made Salt Lake City a place to stop over with the family on Saturday night.

A no-frills concert, sponsored by local radio station K-BUCK, brought the people streaming in from a crisp and stormy autumn night to cozy up together inside University of Utah's Kingsbury Hall for the chance to see the closest thing this country has to a living folk hero.Promptly and without fanfare, an aging man with raven curls tinged with silver stepped into the spotlight to announce, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash."

Somber-faced with his guitar slung low on his right hip, Cash played easily, as if the chord placement was indented into the flesh of his fingertips. He played a string of old favorites, sure to please the crowd; then introduced some songs from his newly released album "Unchained."

His gravely voice sang the words from the heart of a hard living man, a penitent soul, one who recognizes the best gifts life has to offer: family and friends.

"I Walk the line," "Ring of Fire," and "Orange Blossom Special" were just some of the tunes besides the newer offerings of "Unchained" and "Rusty Cage."

Telling the crowd he liked hearing "blood on blood," Cash introduced his son John Carter Cash and left the stage for him. With a folk rock feel, John Carter revealed both anguish and hope with a poetic offering called "February," which he had written.

June Carter Cash warmed her Utah audience by reminding them how much they had in common: family values, the mountains and faith in God.

She sang several gospel tunes from her performances with the Carter family. Wildwood flowers, little brown church in the dale, walking the lonesome valley were just some of the images her words evoked.

To keep the family vibe going, June introduced daughter Rosie and let her have her turn. She put forth a "get down" rendition of "Amazing Grace," bringing her father back on the stage for the night's finale.

It's as if Cash wanted to remind everyone that what he is most proud of - not the long career, countless awards - but the family he has been given.

Cash may sing that he "walks the line," but he crosses every line that divides us and crosses back to show us that we are all the same inside.