By Carrie Steinweg
LANSING, Ill. (December 20, 2022) – The banquet hall at the Knights of Columbus in Lansing was alive with music on Saturday night for the its seventh annual Christmas show. Each December since 2015, the public has been invited to the dinner and show event that has had an array of tribute artists performing hits of some of the most legendary performers in the rock and roll and country genres — with one cancellation in 2020 due to COVID.
The Man in Black
Performing at this year’s event was Terry Lee Goffee, who is described as the “world’s premiere Johnny Cash tribute artist.” Goffee recently performed in the area at Griffith’s Rock ‘N’ Rail Music and Street Festival. His shows often include a full band, but for Saturday’s performance it was just Goffee, his guitar, and a little accompanying background music.
Mike Kabala, chairperson of the Christmas show and past Grand Knight of the Lansing Knights of Columbus Council 3540 organized the event and was pleased to bring Goffee to entertain the crowd, which numbered about 225.
“I do this each year to try and find the best possible affordable entertainment for the good people of Lansing to have somewhere to go without having to go into Chicago and pay $50 for parking,” he said.
Planning the event takes several months and he had next year’s entertainment, a Beach Boys tribute band, already lined up before Goffee’s show took place.
He had already booked Goffee before seeing him perform at the Rock ’N’ Rail event, but was able to see him perform live and meet him that day and he was confident that he’d be popular with the crowd, which has many regulars who attend the show year after year.
Johnny Cash – greatest hits and holiday tunes
Following a buffet dinner by The Cookout catering service, Goffee took the stage in Cash’s Signature style, wearing a black suit and opening with Cash’s debut single, “Cry, Cry, Cry,” which was released in 1955. The song was a hit and led to him touring with Elvis Presley soon after its release. (Last year’s Christmas show featured Elvis Tribute artist Rick Saucedo).
Among the other Cash hits played during the first set were “I Walk the Line” and “Folsom Prison Blues.” Before several of the songs, Goffee offered a little of the backstory of the song or talked about the writer, as he did for one of his biggest hits, “Ring of Fire,” which was written by Cash’s wife, June Carter Cash.
Leading into the song that spent three weeks at the No. 2 Billboard spot in 1969, Coffee talked a little bit about Shel Silverstein, who is perhaps best known for his children’s book titled The Giving Tree. Silverstein was also a poet, cartoonist, playwright and songwriter who penned Cash’s hit “A Boy Named Sue,” which elicited a lively response from the crowd as they sang along.
Below is a video of Goffee singing “Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Ring of Fire,” and “A Boy Named Sue” —
Before intermission, Goffee performed a patriotic piece called “Ragged Old Flag” that was written by Cash in 1974. Recited in a conversational manner over the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, he dedicated it to all the veterans in the audience.
After a brief intermission where Goffee signed autographs and posed for photos with fans, he returned to the stage for a number of holiday songs. After announcing, “This is probably the only Christmas song associated with Johnny Cash,” he sang “The Little Drummer Boy.”
He also pulled out a harmonica later in the show for a bluesy railroad tune and sang a song by request made popular by Elvis Presley – “Blue Christmas.”
Returning year after year
Steve Piskula of Lansing said he attends the Christmas show every year and was excited to hear that a Johnny Cash tribute artist would be the entertainment this year. “I think it’s great,” he said. “Johnny Cash was always my sister’s favorite and I’m a fan.” He especially enjoyed hearing his favorite of Cash’s hits, “Ring of Fire.”
Also returning audience members, Rae Egan and former Lansing resident Curt Smith come all the way from Hickory Hills each year to take in the show. “We’ve been to all the shows and look forward to this every year,” said Egan. “It’s a nice way to kick off the holidays and see friends we only see once a year.”
The Christmas show is also an opportunity to raise funds through the sale of raffle tickets. Proceeds from a split-the-pot raffle were to be donated to Special Olympics and go toward other charitable work that the Knights of Columbus Council 3540 is involved with in Lansing and nearby communities.
The Knights of Columbus headquarters, as well as Kasey’s Restaurant, is located at 17800 Lorenz Avenue in Lansing.