Cash only! Annual Johnny Cash celebration adds kids’ show

Brooklyn Daily
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The Johnny Cash Birthday Bash is turning 10 — and now 10-year-olds can actually attend.

Local band Alex Battles and the Whisky Rebellion has been putting on the annual tribute to the late country music legend since 2005, and it has since grown into a weekend-long Kings County tradition that sells out every year. This year, the party will see the band — plus singer Linda Hills, and old-time outfit the Calamity Janes — play two adults-only shows at the Bell House in Gowanus on March 6 and 7, plus a new all-ages show on the afternoon of March 8.

The kid-friendly session will center around spiritual songs from Cash’s album “My Mother’s Hymn Book.” Battles said he decided to add the new component after numerous friends told him their youngsters were fans of the country crooner, too.

“I was like, all right if your parents are cool enough to take you to the Cash Bash and sing some good songs, it is going to be a good time,” said Battles, who lives in Park Slope.

Battles said the bash is so popular because Cash’s signature sound — a mix of country and rock ’n’ roll — is music to everybody’s ears.

“People go, ‘I hate all country music.’ I go, ‘What about Johnny Cash?’ ‘Oh, I love Johnny Cash,” said Battles. “He has got this deep voice and these really true stories.”

Battles said the concerts also give Brooklynites who have been cooped up because of the cold a chance to blow off some steam — and he has seen the power Cash’s music can have on stressed-out souls first-hand. Years ago, Battles said he was sure he was about to witness a bar brawl when suddenly, Cash’s tunes began blaring from a jukebox and the music diffused the situation.

“You could watch the blood pressure of the entire bar go down,” said Battles. “I find that people, no matter where I am, really respond to him.”

The Johnny Cash 83rd Birthday Bash at the Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Second and Third avenues, (718) 643–6510,]. March 6 and 7 at 9 pm. March 8 at 3 pm. Tickets start at $18.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at or by calling (718) 260–4507. Follow her
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019: Date corrected.
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