Ken Cashion to ‘headline’ depot museum opening

Published 5:32 pm Thursday, December 3, 2009

He’s worked as an engineer, a college professor and an entertainer. He loves entertaining the most, but has never really made any money out of it.

“That’s the way it usually goes. If you can do what you love to do, and get paid for it, too, you are very fortunate. But, I love entertaining and singing and playing my instruments, so I would drive to Dallas for a weekend show, if I had to,” said Ken Cashion.

Those who attend the new railroad depot museum dedication will get a chance to catch one of Cashion’s unique, one-of-a-kind performances from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday in the railroad depot’s lobby.

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But you need to show up for the 6 p.m. ribbon cutting and program dedicating the new train depot museum, too, and then catch the rest of the entertainment, too, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

There will be Neary Studio Singers, Picayune On Stage Dickens characters singing holiday songs and mother, daughter and grandmother, The Hallberg Family, and then at 7:30 p.m. Cashion.

Cashion knows how to sing more than 350 songs, mostly American folk favorites, but he gives them his own interpretation.

“I like songs that tell a story,” he says.

Cashion plays eight different types of stringed instruments: Tenor banjo, a five-stringed banjo, a six- and 12-string guitar, a mandolin, a lap-dulcimer, an auto-harp and “all sorts of ukuleles.”

Born in Cleburne, Texas, he is headed back there in the near future to entertain when that town in Central Texas dedicates a stage coach depot museum, at which his great-grandfather was a stage coach driver. “I was born there, and still have relatives there,” he said. “That will be fun, going back home.”

Cashion wound up here when he and his wife, Bettie, who is secretary-treasurer of the SPCA, moved here when he took a job as a NASA engineer at Stennis.

Cashion has played and entertained all through his native state of Texas. “I did not play sometimes for awhile, but I always got back to it. I recently gave several concerts for the library. Those are the kind I like. I usually sing and entertain for an hour and take a 50-minute break and then go another hour,” he said.

His concert Friday night will last only an hour. “Most of my songs are traditional American folk songs, like Jimmy Rogers would perform,” he said.

“My concerts all follow themes,” he said. Friday night’s performance title: “Iron Rails, Hard Men and Loose Women: Early Railroad Songs.”

“I know well over 350 songs, so it takes me just a little bit to put together an hour or two-hour concert,” he said.

“On Friday night I will be using the six-string guitar, and all the songs will be tied closely with the subject matter.

“I am 75 going on 20. I have been doing this all my life, but that is not to imply that I am any good. I say if you aim low enough you can be a success pretty early. I just want to get a C. Just think, you can make a D all throughout high school and still pass. I was the Bart Simpson underachiever well before he became popular,” says Cashion, who laces humor throughout his concerts.

“I call my favorite songs beautiful nonsense. I just love to do a song that is described that way. Anytime I get a chance to do a song like that, I have to do it, because we just need to laugh so often, especially with how depressing the news on TV is,” he said.

“I look at it this way,” he says. “If somebody pays at the door, I am obligated. If I do it this way (free), then I am worth every penny they paid to see me, and everybody is happy. And I usually do a pretty good job, too.”

Cashion said anyone wanting to book him can call 601–798-5807.