In the midst of “Black Sunday,” many considered the crowd gathered on the patio at Callihan’s American Pub & Grill and wondered aloud if DJ Chuck Black ever knew how many friends he really had.
Even Black’s former dog, a 7-year-old pug named Dinky, turned out to remember the veteran broadcaster and help boost funding for the man’s favorite charity — St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
“I just caught the tail end of the conversation when Chuck said, ‘If anyone can take my dog, give me a call.’ That was about three years ago. He came and checked us out very carefully,” said Mike Williams of Ironton, who attended Sunday’s tribute show along with his wife, Andrea, and the dog they adopted from Black.
“Rinky-Dinky-Doo is how he was known on the radio,” he said, noting Black visited them and Dinky often in the years that followed.
Shared stories and memories of Black, on and off the air, flowed freely long before Dana Romanello and her father, Joe, kicked the show into gear. Romanello, who worked alongside Black at WTCR-FM before moving to Nashville, often danced as her dad applied his energy to mandolin and guitar, closing their performance with her original song, “High Heels in the Dirt.” Event co-organizer and fellow radio veteran Eddie Riffe brought his band, Eddie and The Cougars, to the stage next, providing a selection of classic country songs and a heavy dose of stage antics to the near-capacity crowd.
Members of the band Against the Grain took the next slot, performing a mixture of classic rock and Southern-flavored songs, including “Copperhead Road,” “Alright Now” and “The Ride,” just before the father-and-son duo of Tom and Brenden Wintz strapped on acoustic guitars for a half-hour show that featured the 12-year-old Wintz’s vocals on Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Prompting many in the audience to sing along and even add harmony parts, the Wintzes opened with the late Michael Murphy’s song “Old Cheap Wine.”
Singer/songwriter Larry Pancake kept the crowd’s energy up, with the help of guitarist Phil Osborne as well as two members of Against the Grain for a set that began with Tony Joe White’s “Poke Sallet Annie,” and included an outstanding rendition of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” The husband-and-wife team of David Prince and Luna combined their voices and a pair of guitars before Dustin Burchett of Grayson followed, performing by himself with only an acoustic guitar for a set of original songs about subjects ranging from pickup trucks to apple-pie moonshine. Burchett cited Black’s words of encouragement from when the DJ saw him sing and play on stage for the first time at the age of 19, and dedicated his song “Radio” to Black’s memory.
Backed by Osborne, as well as Randy Ackerson on resonator guitar and an anonymous harmonica player, Louisa native and BCG Records artist Bobby Cyrus was the headliner for “Black Sunday.” Cyrus also acknowledged Black’s influence as an on-air personality as well as a fan of good music while performing primarily original songs, including his forthcoming release “Send Me Wings.”
Callihan’s owner and guitarist Tal Callihan declined to join in the musical performances throughout the afternoon, although he did take a turn at the microphone to sing Black’s praises and remind the audience of the importance of “purpose.” At the end of the day, Callihan said he was pleased by the show of support for the children’s hospital as well as the high regard shown for Black, who he counted as a close friend.
And, while the day featured many smiles and much laughter in Black’s name, few could have left happier than Olivia Wilkerson of Ashland, who had the winning tickets for an acoustic guitar donated by Ackerson and the staff at Music Box Express and a customized leather guitar strap contributed by Cyrus.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2651.