MOUNTAIN VIEW: The Arkansas History Commission and the Ozark Folk Center hosted a reception honoring David Jones and Ron Sherman, and presented a screening of “Jimmy Driftwood Remembered: The Lost Footage,” created by Ron Sherman Productions, to an intimate gathering of Jones and Sherman’s friends and family and Ozark Folk Center dignitaries at the Folk Center on Saturday, April 19. The film screening was held during the 51st annual Folk Fest, an event which Driftwood was a key figure in establishing.
“Jimmy Driftwood Remembered: The Lost Footage,” was created from recently discovered archival footage filmed over 35 years ago for a documentary on Driftwood that never came to fruition. David Jones, former owner and general manager of KARK-TV, had the tapes in his personal archives. Ron Sherman Productions donated time to digitizing the obsolete 1” and ¾” film and creating the 26-minute video.
The Ozark Folk Center ceremony featured remarks by Dr. Lisa Speer, director of the Arkansas History Commission, and Ozark Folk Center superintendent John Morrow. Director Speer commended Jones and Sherman for “saving a piece of Arkansas history from technological obsolescence.” Mike Narisi, former KARK photographer and current president of Hailstone Creek Productions, spoke about the time he spent with Driftwood and what a thrill it was to have a backstage pass to the Grand Ole Opry. At the conclusion of the program, History Commission staff presented Jones and Sherman with plaques to recognize their efforts to save the priceless film footage, which features Driftwood performing some of his legendary hits such as “The Battle of New Orleans” and “Tennessee Stud,” and visiting with family and friends, including country music performers and other notables.
Jimmy Driftwood was a native of Stone County, Arkansas, who wrote over 6,000 songs, won one Grammy, garnered 4 Grammy nominations, and performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Grand Ole Opry, and major folk festivals. He was a leading force in the formation of the Rackensack Folklore Society, the Arkansas Folk Festival, and the Ozark Folk Center.
The archival footage, donated to the Arkansas History Commission by Jones and Sherman, will be preserved for future generations of researchers and music enthusiasts. Since 2008, the Arkansas History Commission has housed the Ozark Cultural Resource Center Collection of Folk Life and Music, which is comprised of several smaller collections, among them the Jimmy Driftwood Collection. The donation by David Jones and Ron Sherman marks the largest donation of original moving images of Driftwood to be added to the Arkansas History Commission collections. Mr. Sherman remarked, “We knew the Arkansas History Commission would share the footage with thousands of people and would also protect it and preserve it for years to come.”