Photos and review by Randy Jarosz
A hidden gem tucked away in Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood. First thought that may come to mind is the Pittsburgh Banjo Club’s Banjo Night. Although you would be correct, there is another diamond in the ruff. It’s at the same location no less, Elks Lodge 339.
Johnny Cash Day in its 9th year has grown from friends hanging out all day long listening to Johnny Cash tunes to 300 plus Cash fans packing the sold out Elks Lodge to pay tribute to the man in black. This is the only known tribute day of its kind and it resides right here in Pittsburgh.
On Saturday, September 14th Pabst Blue Ribbon was flowing strong as well as Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whiskey, both sponsors of the event. Field Notes, e², and Gateway Clipper Fleet were also sponsors donating swag, merchandise and boat tour cruises that were auctioned off.
New comers to Johnny Cash Day, the band Elsinore kicked off the music at 8pm, followed by veterans The Beagle Brothers, James Hart from The Harlan Twins and The Neighborhood, who brought the house down with renditions of “Ring of Fire,” and “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.”
“This is what you all paid to see,” exclaimed Brad Richards, founder and organizer of Johnny Cash Day, while introducing headliners The Neighborhood. The band consists of Mark Williams on guitar and lead vocals, Greg Sparks on lead guitar, Lorenze Jefferson on bass and David Wilkes making the trek from Uganda, on drums.
Williams admitted to being nervous with the large crowd on hand, which included councilman Bill Peduto and film director and producer Rick Sebak. You would never tell as he wallowed “Amazing Grace,” as audience members crowded the stage in a sing a long session. Artists donated their time for the event and all proceeds went to Elks Lodge 339 and local charities.