Johnny Cash Birthday Bash – Majestic Theater – 02/28/2014

Cindy and I went to see the Johnny Cash Tribute show. There were 7 bands!

I wondered how they were going to present that many bands in one night, maybe combined performances? Who knew. Nellie Wilson, whom I had seen recently opening for Wayne Hancock, was on the bill. It was fate.

So we put on black and headed downtown.

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We took a spot in the balcony and after a trip to the upper bar (and a shot of the back of some of the Majestic letters)

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we got a stranger to take out picture

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and we settled in for the show.

Johnny Cash of course was playing in the place as the stage was being set up and the final touches put in place. Of course, I did make one pass for a show poster. I didn’t see a normal sized one on the walls in the bottom hallway, though there was a bigger sized one in the “Coming Shows” glass case, and I was bummed when I didn’t find one hanging up. On a whim I went to the other set of stairs to go back up and would you believe, there was one laying on the FLOOR. Someone had torn it down but left it behind? Mine!

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I had brought my big camera for the first time to a show and I took a few test shots. The zoom was actually fantastic. So the rest of the pictures in this entry were taken with my Cannon and not my phone.

The announcer for the event, through most of it anyway, was Amanda Rigell (lead singer of Count This Penny, a local Madison band) and first up she introduced Robby Schiller.


Robby a nice 3 song set, which included a sing-a-long to the song “Flushed From The Bathroom Of Your Heart”. It was just him and the acoustic guitar. Nice job and a good opening.  The short set tipped me on how they would get 7 bands through. We would see Robby later too.

Next up was Barry Wayne Callen.


Now Barry was not listed on the show poster I came home with, but on the Facebook page for the event

there is another version that includes him. He came out and told a story about meeting Johnny Cash and doing a PSA with him for his job. Then he did his 3 songs, which included a song he wrote about Johnny, “Hurt” (the Nine Inch Nails cover) and then a gospel style song.

Next up was The Traveling Suitcase.


It was lead singer Nicole Rae’s birthday. She started at the downstage mic singing “Sunday Morning Coming Down” softly and smoothly.


then headed to the drum kit and bashed out their second song.


It was awesome! I was blown away. Then they played “Get Rhythm”. I went downstairs to get a picture closer, but by the time I got down there and got one, they were done. Their set was hot and I would love to see them again.

Check them out on Facebook:

and on Bandcamp:

Well worth stopping in. If you are feeling benefactor-ish, they are also in Kickstart.

After their strong set, next up was Little Legend. Note Robby Schiller on the drum set.


These guys were great too. The bass player played in his socks.


They rocked out their set and I was beginning to feel sad about the 3 song sets. Too short. Of course we were both exhausted from out weeks and couldn’t be there until 3 in the morning. These guys got everyone wound up!

Next, they brought up Corey Hart.


He slowed things down again and played so soulful. His voice was great and we both really liked his set, another I would definitely see at another time and place.


He took very simple tunes and made them sound very complex and personal. Just him and a guitar. Nice job. He also did a duet with Amanda.



Up next was Nellie Wilson.


This time she had a harmonica player with her. It was a cool. He did a great job and it really added to the sound.


She played a great set too.


Of all the bands she was the twangiest.  Loved it.

Then came Brown Derby. They introduced them as Madison’s second favorite country band. I was a little scared… even though I was at a Johnny Cash Birthday Bash Show I wasn’t sure I was ready for TOO much country. Brown Derby rocked it!


It was countrified, but it was pretty hard rocking too. Good stuff. They played some fun stuff and I loved this one and would see them again too. This was a good night for music. I will definitely be in on next year’s birthday bash!


I wonder what they sound like when they aren’t playing Johnny Cash. They were great musicians.

Last but not least was The Liam Ford band.


This band was from Milwaukee and they came out strong and were also great. Man! What a night. They played a fantastic set to finish off the night.

Another interesting bass player, he was playing the craziest bass I have seen yet. Do they call this “the stick”?


It’s like a standup bass with no body. Cool.


They rocked out too and after a few Liam took off the jacket.


Soon after, a drunk woman crawled up onstage and danced for a while, then invited her friends. It was weird. They danced, unobtrusively for a short time, then were escorted offstage finally by Majestic staff.


Madison. At least they weren’t stage diving, and were removed without incident.

All in all the night was fantastic and I learned about some great new bands. I also heard some great Johnny Cash tunes. My camera was awesome too. We were up in the balcony and to give you an idea of how far from the stage we were I did take a shot without zooming during Nellie Wilson.


So, my shots may not be Rolling Stone quality, but on this night I got some great shots that weren’t too grainy. My cell phone camera works great on normal shots, but once I zoom, all bets are off.

Nice job Majestic on putting this together, see ya next year.

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