Each year that we’ve done this list, we’ve consistently run into a particular problem: new events pop up throughout the year that we’d love to cover for the blog, but once the New Year hits, it’s too late to add them on. To compensate for this, we put in four ‘wildcards’ this year, which can be absolutely anything we feel like doing or attending, as long as it wasn’t on the list at the start of the year.
In the event that you don’t live in Pittsburgh or know who Brett Keisel and his fabulous beard are, I’ll give them an introduction. Brett ‘The Diesel’ Keisel wears #99 and is a defensive end for the Steelers, and along with his majestic mountain-man facial hair, has been a key part of the Steelers’ amazing defense since 2002, including those two fantastic Superbowl wins.
The beard itself is a local treasure. Each year, Keisel manages to somehow let it grow in even more magnificently than the year before. It has its own t-shirts, fan pages, and catchphrases (‘fear the beard’). And now, at the end of each season, Keisel has it shaved off for charity. The proceeds of all ticket sales and any money made during the evening from raffles and auctions go to Children’s Hospital, and let me tell you, they made a TON of money last Thursday night!
WDVE is one of the hosts of the event, so things started off with a crowd-pleasing round of “Fear The Beard,” featuring Keisel himself on backing vocals with DVE Morning Show host Randy Baumann (if you’re not familiar with DVE, their signature songs are one of the highlights of the morning show).
Then, they brought out Dr. Cooper, who is one of the physicians at Children’s Hospital, and he talked about the work the hospital is doing with fighting cancer and how the proceeds of the evening would go to help the kids seen there. This also gave everyone a chance to appreciate just how enormous Brett Keisel and his beard are. Seriously, cancer better watch out, because Keisel is a total badass.
Then it was on to the opening auctions! They had three paintings of Da Beard to be auctioned off, again with all proceeds going to Children’s Hospital.
I have to admit, Keisel was not the finest of auctioneers, and it was because of this that James Harrison had no choice but to step in and assist. The second painting came down to a bidding war between Coach Tomlin, James Harrison, and Elijah Smith (presumably betting with his dad, fellow Steeler Aaron Smith’s money). It finally went to Coach for $5,000!
At last, it was time to get down to the business of shearing the beard! Aaron Smith brought Elijah out on stage, as he was the inspiration behind this event – Elijah received treatment at Children’s Hospital for leukemia, and the great work the doctors did there inspired Keisel to do this event to raise money for the hospital. The Steelers (as well as the ‘Guins and Buccos) do a lot of charity work for Children’s, including different fundraisers and visiting the kids.
Second-to-last came James Harrison, who, to the crowd’s cheers, took way more than a single shear of the beard. I would say it’s safe to assume James has a backup career once his days as a Steeler are done, but… well, Da Beard wasn’t looking so hot when he was through with it. There was definitely less of it there but… well… let’s just say it’s a good thing those girls from SportClips were there to clean things up. 🙂
And we were treated to a few songs by the Chris Higbee band, which included a sneaky James Harrison trying to play the fiddle. I have to hope that this rendition of “Cotton-Eyed Joe” wound up on the big screen at the Pens’ game.
I was a little hesitant about what kind of show we’d get from this guy I’d never heard of before. It turns out that he used to be part of the Povertyneck Hillbillies, who were a local country band that played all kinds of Steelers and Pirates events back in the early 2000s. I’d never seen them, but I’ll say this: I sure wouldn’t mind seeing Chris Higbee at the Regatta this year! They were awesome!!
Have you ever heard a country band play AC/DC songs? Well, if you haven’t, you’re missing out. It’s pretty awesome. They also played one of the best versions of “Devil Went Down to Georgia” I’ve ever heard, and back in 1994, that was my rollerskating theme song, so I’m a pretty tough judge. All in all, we thought this band was a LOT of fun, and I was more than a little surprised by how much I enjoyed their performance.
Of course, I wasn’t suprised by their special guest. You see, it’s just not officially a Pittsburgh event until Donnie Iris shows up. I mean, just say his name: it’s nearly impossible to not slip into a Yinzer accent when you say, “Donnie Iris is gonna be there!” And Donnie sure loves the ‘Burgh. I’ve never been in a room with so many people singing along to “Ah, Leah!” before.
All in all, we had a great time at this event. For $25, we got a free drink, snacks from Local Bar (mini ham and cheese sandwiches, potato salad, and spicy chicken nuggets – a Yinzer dream), a great event, and some good music, and we knew our money was going to a great cause at Children’s Hospital.
Oh, and Michael was really excited to have an excuse to wear his new mustache necklace from Falkora Jewelry.