Save Moondog’s Virtual Benefit Concert Fundraiser Helps Bolster Landmark Blues Rock Club

Bill Toms plays some killer lead guitar riffs (c.) while Hard Rain and the Soulville Horns jam on.

Bill Toms and Hard Rain Performing at Moondog’s with the Soulville Horns for a Moondog’s Christmas show.

Moondog’s slogan says it all, “We Believe in Music.” The Blawnox bar has been an important club in Pittsburgh’s live music scene for over 20 years. Nurturing blues music and it’s local and national practitioners in an intimate setting. The National Blues Foundation honored owner and manager Ron “Moondog” Esser with it’s Keeping the Blues Alive award in 2005. Esser has promoted and supported blues artists as a founder and booker of the annual Pittsburgh Blues Festival and by investing in and producing blues recordings on his Moondog Records label. He’s also participated in and produced many charitable events including the Pittsburgh Blues and Roots Festival each year supporting Band Together Pittsburgh and the Autism Society of Pittsburgh

Now with many rock rooms hanging on by a thread it’s become evident that music also believes in Moondog’s. Friends of Ron Esser and Moondog’s have joined together to produce Save Moondog’s Virtual Benefit Concert fundraiser for the storied club. The event will occur Friday March 26 through Sunday March 28. 

Fun mural at Moondog's of dogs playing their favorite musical instruments.

Fun mural at Moondog’s of dogs not playing poker, but playing their favorite musical instruments.

The stellar musicians joining in include: (Friday) Billy Price, Norman Nardini, Johnny Angel & The Halos, Matt Barranti, The Bail Jumpers, Joe Hnath, Vanessa Collier, Jimmy Thackery. Saturday’s performers include: Bill Toms and Hard Rain, Jimmy Adler, Nieds Hotel Band, Barbara Blue, Pierce Dipner, Memphis Mike, Sweaty Betty Blues Band, Soulful Femme, Joanna Connor. Sunday night’s lineup includes: Joe Grushecky, Tinsley Ellis, Selwyn Birchwood, Danny Gochnour, Miss Freddye, The Granati Brothers, Cherylann Hawk, Tommy Castro, Will Kondrich. Performances begin each evening at 7 p.m.  An online auction is taking place now through Sunday with many interesting items including, guitars, getaway trips, and memorabilia. For more information on viewing the concert and a complete list of performers visit the Save Moondog’s Facebook page and the Linktree page. The online concert is free, but donations to Moondog’s are appreciated and can be made at the Save Moondog’s Go Fund Me page.

Story and photos by Rick Handler.

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.