More than a dozen Nippertown musical acts joined forces at the Van Dyck in Schenectady on Saturday night to celebrate the life and music of Johnny Cash on the occasion of what would have been the Man in Black’s 78th birthday.
MotherJudge kicked off the festivities with a rousing rendition of “Hey, Porter,” backed by the evening’s house band featuring guitarist Johnny Hoffman, bassist Big Frank Novko (both of Big Frank & the Bargain Bingers) and drummer Dale Haskell (of Street Corner Holler).
Cash’s vast songbag runs the gamut of topics, and just about every aspect of Cash’s repertoire was touched upon on Saturday in front of a capacity crowd that spilled deep into the bar. There were songs were about drinking and cheating, God and America, trains and prison. And they all seemed stamped with that unique Cash touch.
The parade of performers included Tom Benson (of Dyer Switch), Rob Skane, Terry McClain (the Realside), Jim Gaudet & Bob Ristau (of the Railroad Boys), Tom McWatters (the Sense Offenders), nine-year-old Cristo Lewis from Chestertown (who brought down the house with his nimble reading of “I Been Everywhere”), Mike McMann & the Doornails (Ted Hennessy‘s dual-harmonica fireworks on “Orange Blossom Special” was the only thing that could have possibly followed Lewis and get away with it) and Michael Eck.
More than three hours later, Ramblin Jug Stompers wrapped up the night with “The Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea,” joined by Ristau and Haskell.
Photographs by Martin Benjamin