BRUCE BRUNCH MEETING YOU SUNDAY IN ATLANTIC CITY
Tom Cunningham's weekly radio show to host a 9/23 birthday bash
With Bruce's birthday falling on a Sunday this year — that's this Sunday, in case you don't have major holidays marked on your calendar — leave it to Tom Cunningham and the Bruce Brunch radio program to cook up a cool celebration for the occasion.
Tom has filled us in on some of his plans for the birthday bash… and it sounds like he's turning the sand to gold.
First of all, Steven Van Zandt will be calling in as a special guest. A longtime Hard Rock proponent, Stevie dropped by the construction site last year and promised to play a show when everything was up and running. That promise will be fulfilled next month when he rolls into town with the Disciples of Soul, Tuesday 10/23. And this Sunday morning, someone will leave the Hard Rock with a pair of front row tickets in hand.
John Eddie & His Dirty Ol' Band will be performing live on the air, and the band will include original Front Street Runner guitarist "Baby" Joe Sweeney. Count on at least one memorable Springsteen cover. And stick around after the radio broadcast, because John and the band will be playing at least a set right from the Lobby Bar stage.
Noted Springsteen photographer Frank Stefanko will also be on hand. He is generously giving away a 16x20 portrait of Bruce (above) titled "Hard Land" (2017, Colts Neck, NJ).
Sunday'sgiveaways, in addition to the Stefanko print:
Tickets to see Steely Dan on Saturday 10/13 at the Etess Arena at the Hard Rock.
Front row seats to see Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul on Tuesday 10/23 at the Etess Arena at the Hard Rock
Tickets and an overnight stay to see Elvis Costello & The Imposters on Saturday 11/3 at the Etess Arena at the Hard Rock
Tickets and an overnight stay to see Bob Dylan & His Band on Saturday 11/17 at the Etess Arena at the Hard Rock
Be sure to note: the show streams online at 1057thehawk.com, but you must be present to win.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is the home of some rare Springsteen memorabilia, as well as Stevie Van Zandt keepsakes, the Big Man's BIG motorcycle, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes archives, and lots more Jersey Shore music scene rarities.
Cunningham tells Backstreets, "It's been a while since Bruce's birthday has fallen on a Sunday. What better way to mark the day than with other fans in this beautiful new place. The Hard Rock did it right, and I love how they made sure that all of New Jersey's legendary artists are represented."
Makeup on? Hair look pretty? The Bruce Brunch is heading to Atlantic City. - September 20, 2018
BRO CODE OF THE ROAD
Nils Lofgren jams with his brothers to kick off fall Acoustic Duo tour
Over the weekend, Nils Lofgren started his September tour in style with three nights in a row at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. Following those homecoming shows, Lofgren's tour pulls into Asbury Park tonight, for a stop at the Stone Pony, and continues throughout the month.
All in the Family: Mike, Nils, and Tom Lofgren at the Birchmere, 9/14/18 - photo by Jerry Frishman
The Birchmere concerts — three nights running, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday — were special ones, as Nils and his Acoustic Duo tourmate Greg Varlotta (guitar, trumpet, keyboards, tap dancing) were joined by Lofgren brothers Tom, Mike, and Mark for "An Acoustic Evening with Nils Lofgren & Friends." During one song Nils and Tom — who were bandmates in Grin — strummed each other's guitars, and the sibling love was evident when all four brothers performed together. Their mom must have been proud.
Still Grinnin': Nils and Tom help each other out, 9/14/18 - photo by Jerry Frishman
The song selection spanned Nils's 50-year career, including Grin tracks like "Moon Tears" and "Believe," and solo cuts like "Code of the Road," "Girl in Motion," and "No Mercy." In between songs he told stories — on Friday, he talked about meeting Neil Young and collaborating on the After the Gold Rush album. Nils displayed his wide instrumental range, playing harp, keyboard, guitar, and lap steel; his rendition of "Flight of the Bumblebee" on accordion was a huge crowd pleaser.
A fan in the opening night crowd called out, "Bullets Fever"! Nils sang a few lines of his 1978 basketball anthem and told the story of how he wrote that song and took it to local Washington DC stations, whereupon it became a big local hit. (Of course, the team is now the Wizards). The performance concluded with a great version of his sublime favorite "Shine Silently."
Following tonight's Asbury Park gig, the Acoustic Duo will make their way around the Northeast before wrapping up the month in NYC — get there if you can:
September 18 - The Stone Pony - Asbury Park, NJ
September 19 - Musikfest Cafe at ArtsQuest Center - Bethlehem, PA
September 20 - Colonial Theatre - Phoenixville, PA
September 21 - The Space at Westbury - Westbury, NY
September 22 - Cabot Theater - Beverly, MA
September 23 - Paramount Hudson Valley - Peekskill, NY
September25 - Tupelo Music Hall - Derry, NH
September 26 - Narrows Center for the Arts - Fall River, MA
September 27 - Academy of Music - Northampton, MA
September 28 - Cary Hall - Lexington, MA
September 29 - Infinity Hall - Norfolk, CT
September 30 - City Winery - New York, NY
For more details and ticket links, visit nilslofgren.com. - September 18, 2018 - photographs and reporting by Jerry Frishman
WELL MY DADDY HE WAS JUST A STRANGER
As we first reported in May, screenwriter Jonathan Kasdan revealed that he and his father, fellow screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, drew inspiration for their Solo: A Star Wars Story screenplay from Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run autobiography. Now that Solo has become available for home viewing via digital streaming, Kasdan has tweeted some additional making-of factoids "in lieu of a commentary," including more details about this Springsteen/Star Wars backstory connection:
Solo: A Star Wars Story is digitally available now, and will be released in physical media formats on September 25. Click here for details.
- September 17, 2018 - Shawn Poole reporting
STOP ME IF YOU'VE HEARD THIS ONE
On November 5, an off-night for Springsteen on Broadway, Bruce will be on a different NYC stage, returning for the 12th annual Stand Up for Heroes benefit at Madison Square Garden's Hulu Theatre. The New York Comedy Festival event raises money for the Bob Woodruff Foundation, supporting post-9/11 impacted veterans, service members, their families and caregivers. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, Thursday, September 13 at noon Eastern, via Ticketmaster. - September 12, 2018
IF YOUR SPIRIT IS READY TO TAKE THAT RIDE...
Catch that coast town bus to Atlantic City, with a Backstreets ticket presale for Little Steven's only area show next month
This fall, Little Steven brings his Teacher Appreciation Tour back to North America for a two-month victory lap. With his Disciples of Soul, Stevie will be performing from coast to coast beginning in October, from Rochester to San Diego, from Tulsa to Tahoe. It's a last chance for Stateside fans to behold the glory of these Soulfire shows.
With the tri-state area already having witnessed several nights with Little Steven and the Disciples, this fall leg will inlcude only one stop in the region: October 23 in Atlantic City, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino's Etess Arena. And Backstreets can help you get in. General onsale for Atlantic City is this Saturday at 10am; 24 hours prior, a Backstreets presale will give our readers advance access to tickets.
Use the presale code BACKSTREETS (all caps) to go for Atlantic City tickets this Friday, Septemer 14, beginning at 10am Eastern via Ticketmaster.com.
This final leg is set to open October 18 in Wilkes Barre, PA and continue into December. The current itinerary for the Soulfire Teachrock Tour 2018:
October 18 - Kirby Center - Wilkes Barre, PA
October 20 - Kodak Center - Rochester, NY
October 23 - Hard Rock Hotel - Atlantic City, NJ
October 24 - Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall - Munhall, PA
October 29 - Honeywell Center - Wabash, IN
October 31 - Pabst Theater - Milwaukee, WI
November 2 - Ames Center - Burnsville, MN
November 3 - Meyer Theatre - Green Bay, WI
November 5 - Copernicus Center - Chicago, IL
November 7 - Club Brady Theater - Tulsa, OK
November 9 - Music Hall - Detroit, MI
November 10 - Monarch Music Hall - Peoria, IL
November 12 - Mercury Ballroom - Louisville, KY
November 14 - Newport Music Hall - Columbus, OH
November 16 - Hard Rock - Cleveland, OH
November 17 - Metropolitan Theatre - Morgantown, WV
November 26 - Tower Theatre - Oklahoma City, OK
November 28 - Hollan Performing Arts Center - Omaha, NE
November 30 - Gothic Theatre - Denver, CO
December 1 - The Depot - Salt Lake City, UT
December 3 - Vogue Theatre - Vancouver, BC
December 5 - Snoqualmie Casino - Snoqualmie, WA
December 7 - The Fillmore - San Francisco, CA
December 8 - Harrah's Lake Tahoe - Stateline, NV
December 11 - House of Blues - San Diego, CA
December 12 - House of Blues - Anaheim, CA
December 14 - House of Blues - Las Vegas, NV
December 16 - The Van Buren - Phoenix, AZ
Watch littlesteven.com for further information, including additional show announcements and onsales for the West Coast this Friday morning.
As reported previously, K-12 teachers get into the show free after attending a pre-show TeachRock workshop, focused on using music to engage students in the classroom. See teachrock.org for details.
RESUSCITATED AND REDEDICATED IN CHICAGO, 9/30/99
Boom Boom: the live archive taps the Reunion tour for the second time
Today's new release in Bruce Springsteen's live archive series marks its second offering from the Reunion tour, joining the previously released July 1, 2000 performance from Madison Square Garden. That legendary tour finale was an obvious pick. This one, Chicago September 30, 1999, undoubtedly comes as a surprise to many devotees of the series. Upon further examination, though, it's a fine selection, capturing the soaring wrap-up of a successful first leg of the U.S. tour that rededicated the E Street Band for the turn of the millenium.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band blew into the Windy City in late September for three shows over four nights, riding the momentum of a lengthy stretch of East Coast shows that included a record-setting 15-show home state residency at the Meadowlands and the just-completed six-show stand in their stronghold of Philadelphia, where the Boss turned 50. Unlike lucky Easterners who by then already had plenty of drivable opportunities to see the band, Chicagoans were still thirsty to finally witness Springsteen playing with the E Street Band again. It had been awhile: they'd last played together in the area in 1988 at the Rosemont Horizon. The anticipation for the E Street Band's return was goosed by the giddiness of finally being able to see the reunion that, for a solid decade, we didn't know would ever happen.
The 1999 model E Street Band - photograph by Ron Ring
The fans who filled the spacious United Center for three sold-out shows gave Bruce and the band a hero's welcome — and the E Streeters responded by making "The House That Michael Jordan Built" their own during their first visit to the arena. After an off-day following the first two Chicago shows, which capped a demanding stretch of four in five days, the E Street Band returned to the stage on September 30 with renewed energy — and the continued engagement of proving to itself as well as the audience that it wasn't only rediscovering its storied past, but also creating new glory.
The Chicago stand saw 42 different songs played, including seven on the final night that weren't played in the first two concerts. The stage setlists were replaced twice before this show — a good sign, of course, though their author still didn’t exactly follow the last one taped in front of him. The band slammed into the underplayed "Take 'Em as They Come" to start the night and offered other remarkable rarities as well.
Springsteen rewarded the city he first played in 1973 (as an opener to The Persuasions for five shows at the Quiet Knight) with a stunningly beautiful "New York City Serenade." The epic hadn’t been played since 1975 until making a surprise appearance a month earlier in New Jersey, and it would be performed only five times on the Reunion Tour. While "Serenade" didn’t feature the strings of the recorded version — or of the live performances of recent vintage — Roy Bittan's sublime piano helped send the song down Broadway and into the mystic.
September 1999 - photograph by Mark R. Sullivan
On the flipside, "Janey, Don't You Lose Heart" saw its groove escape. "Oh, we’ve got to practice that one," Springsteen said with a laugh after its conclusion. "She's the One" quickly restored the show's surging energy.
On quite a few occasions Springsteen shouted instructions to the band, followed by urgent scrambling to change guitars. This performance was a prime example of Springsteen making the right calls to form an expertly paced, thematic setlist that had the benefit of strong anchors on this tour. A highlight was the nightly airing of the fiery three-pack of "Youngstown," "Murder Incorporated," and "Badlands." Later, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" saw a snippet of the Curtis Mayfield-penned "It's All Right" by The Impressions that led into Al Green's "Take Me to the River" with lengthy band introductions, during which Springsteen said he wanted to go there with us "because you can't get there by yourself."
The main set-closer, a show-stopping, supercharged "Light of Day," nodded to the city's blues tradition with a pedal-to-the-metal shift into John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom." It also made local references to cows, pizza, and "Mike Ditka memorabilia" before Springsteen fervently preached the Reunion tour's mission: "If you've been downsized, stigmatized, retro-psychedelicized, analyzed, Pokemonized, pass-that-tax-cut-for-the-rich-Republicanized, it ain't too late to repent! I'm here to re-educate, to rededicate, to re-confiscate, to resuscitate, to reindoctrinate, to re-sexualate, to re-liberate, to recombobulate with the power, with the glory… with the promise, with the mystery, with the majesty, with the ministry of rock 'n' roll!"
September 1999 - photograph by Mark R. Sullivan
The tour's defining emotional highs of "If I Should Fall Behind" and the new spiritual "Land of Hope of Dreams" packed a back-to-back punch as usual, driving home themes of companionship and camaraderie, but on this night they were not the last word. "Miss O'Leary, step aside!" Springsteen exclaimed — and with that, a lunatic version of the rollicking "Ramrod" served as the closer, ending the concert and stand with fans pumping up the decibel level in the United Center.
The exhausted frontman gave them a final scene to remember as he laid sprawled on his back on the monitor in front of Max Weinberg's drum kit, his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. Then he started turning. For a moment, it looked as if he was trying to kick the bass drum or knock down the entire kit, but he was just gaining leverage to spin on the monitor. He eventually positioned himself upside down and looked at the crowd. The place went nuts. The roar reverberated through the building at least as loud — and maybe even louder — than when Jordan's Bulls won NBA titles here. Don't believe it? Ask the floor that shook. After a mad dash was punctuated by a somersault, Springsteen was still bouncing off the stage when the band took its final bows — a crazy ending to an electrifying show.
Also read: Erik Flannigan's "Listen to Your Junk Man" at blog.nugs.net.
- September 7, 2018 - Dave Miller reporting - ticket stub courtesy of Bev Horne - additional thanks to J. Burt
BACK TO SCHOOL WITH STEVIE
Now that school is back in session across the U.S., Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul also are gearing up for more TeachRock.org professional-development sessions for teachers as part of the next U.S. leg of their Teacher Appreciation Tour.
Beginning next month, all teachers who attend a TeachRock professional-development session will continue to receive the same cool "stipend" for their attendance — two free tickets to the Little Steven concert accompanying the session — plus some wicked-cool swag, in the form of the newly added official teachers-only Teacher Appreciation Tour T-shirt.
Stevie himself provides all of the details (including the shirt) in the video above. "This is a little different than the professional development experience that you may be used to," says Steve. "This is a rock 'n' roll experience." Interested teachers of classes from kindergarten through grade 12 can click here to learn more and to register for an upcoming professional-development session near them. - September 6, 2018 - Shawn Poole reporting
TRUST NONE OF WHAT YOU HEAR
We believe strongly that the free press is not the enemy of the people... but still, there are times when you can't believe everything you read. Despite what The Daily Star reported yesterday, Steven Van Zandt does not believe that Bruce Springsteen has just "ONE more tour in him." On Twitter, Stevie calls this "the real FAKE NEWS!"
“Quotes” from Daily Star. “It’s been an amazing run for him and then he’s going to take some time off.” I didn’t say that. I said he DESERVES TIME OFF. “I think the E Street Band has one more tour then maybe that will be that.” Completely made up! 100% fiction. Fucking amazing.
"We will tour forever" — that's a 100% non-fiction, straight-from-the-source quote we're happy to disseminate.
Stevie and his Disciples of Soul continue their own tour this fall, as the Soulfire TeachRock Tour 2018 returns to the U.S. with more dates beginning in October. See the itinerary at littlesteven.com. - September 5, 2018
"Lots of cool stuff here I didn't know existed until I did the research," Jay tells us, and we concur. Some tracks will be familiar to most fans not dwelling under a rock — Rick Springfield's "Bruce" and Eric Church's "Springsteen" made the first list, of course — but there are plenty of rarer cuts gathered here. We somehow missed Link Wray's "It Was Elvis" from 1993's Indian Child:
Now Bruce is carrying on with Born to Run Through the Darkness on the Edge of Town His gun's for hire, he's making fire
In his pink Cadillac, he's the boss of the rock 'n' roll sound.
On the new list you'll also find recordings from John Wesley Harding, Dar Williams, The Gaslight Anthem, Lana Del Rey, and more. Jay writes, "Some of the artists are extremely obscure, but I think there are a lot of cool 'finds' here that a lot of Springsteen fans probably haven't heard before." Check out Part 1 and Part 2. - September 4, 2018
IN FREEHOLD AND BEYOND: ROCK & ROLL TOUR OF THE JERSEY SHORE
Last week, the Asbury Park Press published an article on the houses where the Springsteen family lived in Freehold — a subject with some currency, given Bruce's Born to Run memoir and childhood recollections in Springsteen on Broadway.
Jean knows whereof she speaks, having given tours of music landmarks on the Jersey Shore for years, along with collaborator Stan Goldstein. The pair also put their local knowledge down on paper for an invaluable book, Rock & Roll Tour of the Jersey Shore. Here at Backstreets HQ we get asked a lot where to go, if someone is making the pilgrimage to Asbury Park and environs... we recommend this book every time.
With maps, stories, and photos, Rock & Roll Tour of the Jersey Shore is now in its Fourth Edition.
However, we've also turned up a stack of the out-of-print Third Edition [right] — they're a little beat up, but still highly usable. And we'd love to see them in use. So we're having a scratch-and-dent sale: get a copy of the Third Edition for just 5 bucks! That's more than 80% off.
If you're thinking more "throw it in the car and go" rather than "I need it in perfect shape on my shelf," come and get it!
9/4 update: All scratch-and-date Third Editions are now sold out; new Fourth Editions are still in stock.
- Updated September 4, 2018
MIGHTY MAX TURNS ON THE MUSIC MACHINE
Moonlighting from the E Street Band, Max Weinberg has embarked on plenty of tours himself over the years, from the lecture circuit to leading his own bands in multiple genres. The Max Weinberg Big Band took a mighty 15-piece ensemble on the road, and the Max Weinberg Quintet stripped things down to display his jazzier side. While rock 'n' roll is never far from his heart or his performances, off E Street you'd more often find him leading a post-bop excursion or some swinging jump blues — until the recent advent of Max Weinberg's Jukebox.
Beginning in April 2017, Max has embraced a classic two-guitars, bass and drums line-up to recreate the rock 'n' roll songs he loves for audiences around the country. And as the name of the band suggests, he's taking requests. If you enjoyed the "Stump the Band" portions of E Street Band shows, Max has got a whole evening right up your alley.
Max recently spoke with Backstreets' Christopher Phillips about the Jukebox shows and his own spectacular spinning songbook, touching on his E Street Band audition, the band's '90s hiatus, Springsteen on Broadway, and poring over records with Bruce and Jon Landau along the way.
"YOU PICK THE SONGS, WE PLAY 'EM": MAX WEINBERG'S JUKEBOX
AT THE PONY AND BEYOND
Next week, Mighty Max returns to the Stone Pony in Asbury Park with Max Weinberg's Jukebox — get there if you can for a night of all-request rock 'n' roll. As Max tells Backstreets, "We play for about two hours, and it just goes by so fast. It's a fast-paced show, it's a fun evening, and that's basically what it's about... I'm all about nostalgia — in a good way. When was the last time you went to a show and knew every song?
Max Weinberg's Jukebox plays the Stone Pony on Friday, August 31 at 9pm, with doors at 7pm. Tickets are available now through Ticketmaster.
Between now and then, you can catch the show at City Winery in NYC (tonight), Big Chill Beach Club in Bethany Beach, DE (August 24), World Cafe Live in Philadelphia (August 25), and the City Winery in Boston (August 26).
This Sunday, August 26, tune in to hear Max guesting on Tom Cunningham's Bruce Brunch, which airs and streams live at 10am Eastern on 105.7 The Hawk; Max's guest appeareance this week with Dave Marsh on E Street Radio's LiveFrom E Street Nation will replay on Sunday as well, at 6pm Eastern.
Later this fall, Max Weinberg's Jukebox will be back on the road for more shows in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin. Visit maxweinberg.com for all tour dates.
And stay tuned here for a new Backstreets interview with the Mighty One, coming next week! - August 23, 2018
July 6, open air in Amsterdam Forest - photograph by Rene van Diemen
LITTLE STEVEN WRAPS EUROPEAN TOUR
Next: more U.S. dates, Soulfire Live! 7LP vinyl & Blu-ray, and more
Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul wrapped up their European tour (their third in the past 12 months) with an unforgettable 25-song, two-and-three-quarter-hour, five-encore performance at Shepherds Bush Empire in London on July 27.
The band were introduced by Dave Clark of the Dave Clark Five, as they had been at the very first gig of the new Disciples era in London nearly two years ago. Resplendent in his full-length jacket and flowing scarves, Little Steven opened with an infectious cover of Arthur Conley's 1967 hit "Sweet Soul Music," conducting the band with outstretched arms, while musical director Marc Ribler took care of the guitar duties.
"Little Steven hit the stage and emptied his lungs into this soul classic," commented Paul Davies for the Express online. "Covered in purple and black, [he] controlled the stage like an old-school bandleader. Stopping halfway through, with the band in freeze mode, giving his fearsome Frank Tagliano death stare to the occasional audience member who broke the silence, he whipped up the hysteria to a frenzy before the band broke back into the song."
The "fearsome Frank Tagliano death stare" at Shepherds Bush Empire - photograph by Mike Saunders
The London set also included seven songs from the Men Without Women album, ten from Soulfire, covers of The Beatles' "Got To Get You Into My Life" and U2's "Out Of Control" and a unique performance of "Say Those Magic Words" by The Birds, a lesser-known mid-sixties British band that once featured Ronnie Wood on guitar. Adding a touch of authenticity, Little Steven brought out the band's original singer Ali McKenzie to handle the lead vocal.
"It's refreshing to witness a show being presented in the context of a Soul Revue, with all players having their moment to shine," continued the Express review. "No sampling or drum machines, just top professional musicians blending their artistry and revelling in every moment. If music is where everybody can find a common ground, then tonight Little Steven produced a joyous connection to humanity with his Soulfire show."
On June 27, the day before the European tour's opening night in Dublin, Little Steven broadcast his weekly Underground Garage show live from Tower Records on Dublin City FM. He also hosted Underground Garage Dance Parties at the Hard Rock Cafes in Cologne (July 3), Amsterdam (5), Madrid (10), Rome (16) and London (26).
A combination of club gigs and festival appearances, the 16-date tour began on June 28 and visited Ireland, the United Kingdom (including a return to Liverpool), Germany, The Netherlands, France, Spain, Belgium, Italy (making up for cancellations last year), Sweden and Norway. The itinerary included shows at the 630-capacity Whitley Bay Playhouse, near Newcastle (where the band played "Club a Go Go" in honour of local legends The Animals) and the Noches Del Botanico Festival in Madrid, where ex-Hanoi Rocks lead singer Michael Monroe guested on "Dead, Jail or Rock and Roll," the song he co-wrote with Little Steven for his 1989 album "Not Fakin' It."
Right: July 10 with Michael Monroe at the Hard Rock Cafe in Madrid
The set lists (which grew longer as the tour progressed) were similar to last year's, with the omission of the "reggae trilogy" ("Solidarity," "Leonard Peltier" and "I Am a Patriot") and the addition of "Sweet Soul Music," "Lyin' in a Bed of Fire," and "Under the Gun." Cornerstones "Blues Is My Business" and "Down and Out in New York City" (with solos from all five horn players) had been retained, together with the mandolin and accordion-flavoured "Princess of Little Italy," and the rousing final encore, "Out of the Darkness."
July 6 in Amsterdam - photograph by Rene van Diemen
The unchanged 14-piece Disciples of Soul line-up featured Music Director Marc Ribler (guitar, slide guitar); Jack Daley (bass); Rich Mercurio (drums); Andy Burton (B3 organ, accordion, synthesisers); Lowell "Banana" Levinger (piano, mandolin); Anthony Almonte (percussion); Horn Director Eddie Manion (baritone sax); Stan Harrison (tenor sax, alto sax, flute, oboe); Clark Gayton (trombone); Ron Tooley (trumpet); Ravi H Best (trumpet) and Jaquita May, Sara Devine and Tania E Jones (backing vocals).
Apart from providing some of the best live music around, the European shows (like the recent U.S. concerts) helped to promote the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation's TeachRock initiative. In each city, teachers were invited to attend a free professional development workshop and receive complimentary access to the gig.
"We want to show our appreciation to some of the hardest working, most underpaid people," Little Steven told Stuart Clark in an interview for Ireland's Hot Press magazine. "Teachers are under siege, their job has become much harder with this generation. The kids want everything now. They thought it was Attention Deficit Disorder, but they just have trouble paying attention because everything is instant. Teachers are on the front lines trying to deal with it. So we've come up with a TeachRock curriculum where they can use music as a common ground and establish communication with these kids because, thankfully, they're all into music. We've been working on it for ten years and it's proved to be very successful."
On a lighter note, onstage in London, Little Steven joked that the ongoing teacher appreciation tour was devised to compensate "for what I put 'em through in high school. It's going to be a long tour!"
Espresso martinis all around, July 26 at Hard Rock London - photograph by Mira Belle
Little Steven also spoke to Steven Smith for the BBC's Newsnight. Their conversation covered Brexit and Donald Trump's presidency ("the ugliest part of humanity is now being endorsed"), but was not without humor. Referring to Little Steven as a "sophisticated clothes horse," Smith suggested that he might be mistaken for a character in Spinal Tap. Comparing his consigliere role in the Sopranos to his relationship with Bruce Springsteen, Smith asked, "I guess you haven't done many whackings for Bruce over the years?" "Nothing we can talk about," he replied.
An interview with Neil McCormick for Needle Time (filmed last year in London at the same time as the previously broadcast My Vintage) was aired on the Vintage TV channel.
Mojo magazine included Little Steven in its monthly feature "All Back to My Place," in which artists pick favourite records in different categories. His Saturday night record was 12 X 5 by the Rolling Stones ("they absorbed their roots so quickly, it blows my mind to this day") and his Sunday morning choice was A Hard Day's Night by The Beatles ("so great it's beyond comprehension"). For his all-time album, he selected The Temptations' Greatest Hits ("it's the most extraordinary combination of composition, arrangement, production and performance").
After the tour, Little Steven returned to Norway to teach at his annual Blues School. Between other commitments, he introduced Bonnie Raitt at the Notodden Blues Festival.
Back in New Jersey, Steven played at the Rockit Gala at the Two River Theatre in Red Bank, which honoured Eddie Brigati of the Rascals (August 9) and made a guest appearance with Paul Rodgers for "Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy" and "Cross Road Blues" at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel (August 12).
Following this month's release of Soulfire Live! on CD, a seven-disc vinyl boxed set and a two-disc Blu-ray version will be available at the end of the year, and both will include the 30-minute Beatles tribute concert that the Disciples of Soul performed at the Cavern Club in Liverpool last November. The Blu-ray will add behind-the-scenes footage, exclusive interviews and a documentary about the Liverpool gig. "Playing in the same venue where the Beatles started their careers was a childhood dream of mine come true," said Little Steven. "This was a band that set me on course for a life of music. It was an honor — no, make that an epiphany — to perform there."
Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul will resume their Soulfire TeachRock tour in the U.S. this fall, with 16 shows between October 18 and November 17. The schedule features stops in Atlantic City, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland and will include their 100th concert since their rebirth in 2016. View dates here.
This will be the end of the Soulfire Tour. We’re hitting the Midwest. All the states where teachers were on strike (or almost were) to show SOLIDARITY! And some West Coast which will be announced soon. Teachers come free! The only East Coast show is HardRock Atlantic City Oct 23. https://t.co/vISWtYsnSE
Looking further ahead, a new studio album and another European tour are pencilled in for next summer. Whatever happens, as Steven emphasised onstage in London, the Disciples of Soul are "back for good." "You could get intellectual about it, but the truth of the matter is it's what we do, it's our identity," he told Hot Press. "You've gotta love travelling and experiencing different cultures. It's a different kind of sensibility. We don't feel alive unless we're rolling into a different city every day. You feel like you're accomplishing something. Whether we do an E Street Band record and tour or not, I want to keep coming back to the Disciples of Soul. Having reawakened this idea of rock meets soul, I want to see how far we can take it." - August 22, 2018 - Mike Saunders reporting
ANOTHER SEEGER SESSION FROM SPRINGSTEEN "If I Had A Hammer" to be released in October
As announced in yesterday's press release, Bruce Springsteen's recording of "If I Had a Hammer," the classic folk song written by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger and first recorded in 1950 by their group The Weavers, will be released on October 19 as part of Appleseed's 21st Anniversary: Roots and Branches. The 3-CD Various Artists collection celebrates the continuing legacy of Appleseed Recordings, the independent, artist-centered and socially conscious record label founded by Jim Musselman in 1997.
Musselman's foray into independent recording was inspired deeply by the musical and social activism of Pete Seeger, so it made perfect sense that one of Appleseed's first releases was 1998's Where Have All the Flowers Gone? The Songs of Pete Seeger, Volume 1, featuring Bruce Springsteen's version of "We Shall Overcome." The recording of several Seeger-associated songs for possible inclusion on Where Have All the Flowers Gone? is what eventually led to Springsteen's own Seeger Sessions album and tour that followed it. Springsteen has since continued to contribute recordings to various Appleseed projects over the years. "If I Had a Hammer" will mark the sixth such contribution. Here's a listing of the previous five:
The Springsteen version of "If I Had A Hammer" that will appear on Roots and Branches is the one that Bruce recorded at Jim Musselman's suggestion more than 20 years ago, a bona fide Seeger Sessions outtake. Jim's been kind enough to provide us with the full liner notes' production credits for this version:
Produced by Bruce Springsteen
Recorded by Toby Scott, assisted by Ross Petersen at Thrill Hill Recording, NJ
Mixed by Bob Clearmountain, assisted by Brandon Duncan
at Mix This! Los Angeles, CA
Bruce Springsteen: lead vocals, guitar
Sam Bardfeld: violin
Frank Bruno: acoustic guitar
Jeremy Chatzky: bass
Mark Clifford: banjo
Larry Eagle: percussion
Charles Giordano: accordion
Lisa Lowell: vocals
Mark Pender: vocals
Patti Scialfa: vocals
Soozie Tyrell: violin, vocals
"If I Had a Hammer" won't be the only Springsteen-connected recording featured on Roots and Branches.
In addition to Springsteen's previously released version of "We Shall Overcome," the collection will include occasional E Streeter Tom Morello's radical folk-process alteration of AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" rewritten to, as the press release states, "name-check 'U.S. foreign policy' and 'fake news.'" Tom Russell covers Springsteen's "Across the Border" in a version actually recorded at the Mexico/New Mexico line on the same day that the Trump Administration announced its plan to repeal DACA. And John Wesley Harding — friend to Backstreets and one of the few artists to serve as an opening act for Springsteen — delivers a new version of his own "Scared of Guns" with his twelve-year-old daughter Tilda reciting NRA donation figures.
Click here to hear in advance Harding's and Russell's recordings, as well as another Roots and Branches track: Jesse Winchester's "Get It Right One Day," his final, previously unreleased song.
Jim Musselman has assembled Roots and Branches in the "old-school" way, he tells Backstreets, as a collection of material (both new and archival) with deeply interconnected themes, flowing together like the best albums do. As he stated in yesterday's press release, each of the collections' three CDs or parts (in the case of the downloadable version) form a trio that "match my three goals in forming Appleseed Recordings — to provide an outlet for songs of social justice, both current and past; to release newly written songs of personal experience and emotion in modern times; and to keep alive the centuries of still-vital traditional songs from our country's and our world's history. To learn how to move forward, we can never forget the lessons, or songs, of the past." Consequently, Roots and Branches will be available for purchase as either a 3-CD set or a complete 57-track digital download, but none of the set's individual tracks will be available for individual purchase.
Musselman also has written an essay that will be included as part of both the 3-CD set and the digital download. In it, he touches upon Bruce Springsteen's history with the label, and the impact that Springsteen's Appleseed recordings have had during times of crisis. "In addition to my father, I've dedicated this project to two other people: Jon Landau and Bruce Springsteen, for their continued commitment to and support of our efforts."
Keep checking in with Backstreets.com for more on "If I Had a Hammer" and Roots and Branches as the October 19 release date draws closer. - August 21, 2018 - Shawn Poole reporting
ARETHA FRANKLIN, THE QUEEN OF SOUL, 1942-2018 "Aretha Franklin sings the blues. But it is a blues with a difference. For the blues of today are a much different thing than the blues of the thirties, or, for that matter, the blues of the fifties. And it is Aretha more than anyone else who has given contemporary rhythm and blues their most effective expression, bringing the soul message to new mass audiences... Aretha always draws on her gospel roots in her performances. It is from her early church singing that she has acquired the skill to extend herself vocally and to project in the vibrant manner which moves her listeners so strongly. But unlike some gospel singers, she almost always controls her ability to project and uses it in a tasteful manner rather than for exhibitionistic purposes. Such self-control makes hearing her a pleasure, and it shows Aretha's tremendous artistic maturity. It is out of these roots of urban and rural blues, pop, and gospel that Aretha has put together the winning style which has made her the most important blues artist of today."
— Jon Landau, liner notes to Lady Soul (1967)
Despite their both being signed to Columbia Records by John Hammond and sharing ties to record-industry executive Clive Davis, Aretha Franklin's and Bruce Springsteen's paths rarely crossed. In 1994, they shared the stage for the all-star tribute to Curtis Mayfield during the Grammy Awards ceremony at Radio City Music Hall. Over a decade later, Franklin was present at the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors when Springsteen was honored, though she was there to help honor another member of the Kennedy Class of 2009, opera singer Grace Bumbry.
It also was rare for Springsteen to perform an Aretha Franklin hit in concert. Probably the most noteworthy such performance was "Chain of Fools" (Lady Soul's opening track) with Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes at The Stone Pony on May 27, 2001 (the 25th anniversary of Southside's legendary radio broadcast from the Pony.)
Love and Thanks @ArethaFranklin Your voice, soul and musicianship inspires and lifts us always. Pure Light and Hope like no other. God Bless you. Deep thanks and gratitude for sharing All your gifts with the world. Forever now...Rest in Peace. Nils n Amy
We can't help but picture Aretha, right about now, zoomin' down that cosmic Freeway of Love (in her pink Cadillac, of course) with the Big Man himself along for the ride. Rest in peace, Lady Soul, and thanks for all of your great music. May you forever cruise on Better Than Ever Street.
- August 16, 2018 - Shawn Poole reporting
ONE FINE NIGHT
No Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has more Broadway cred than Carole King. Not only has King's show Beautiful: The Carole King Musical been a hit on The Great White Way for almost five years with no end in sight, but the original version of Mann/Weil's "On Broadway" (later immortalized by The Drifters in the classic Leiber/Stoller-altered version) was recorded by Goffin/King's go-to girl group The Cookies, with Gerry Goffin producing and Carole King arranging.
MEET BARBARA PYLE IN THE CITY, SPECIAL GALLERY SALE AUGUST 14
If you'll be in NYC next week, don't miss photographer Barbara Pyle in person at Carmine Galleries on Tuesday night, August 14. After two years of having her amazing Born to Run-era Springsteen photos on display, this event will be a last hurrah before switching out her work. Come see it before it goes, meet the photographer, and peruse some very rare collectible prints up for sale.
"I'm going to be selling some of my 1975 prints," Pyle tells Backstreets, and she doesn't just mean images from her book Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 1975. She means the ones she hand-printed at the time, "framed and signed by me in 1975!"
Meet Barbara at her gallery in the West Village on Tuesday from 6:30 to 9:30pm, where she'll be signing prints and books, even making available framed photos that have been part of the exhibition. "This is it," she says, "I'm selling them off the walls!"
Two summers ago, we had one of Barbara's fellow photographers interview her for Backstreets, and hers is an astounding story, straight outta Pauls Valley, Oklahoma... to New Orleans recording studios... to riding the Born to Run tour bus... to filmmaking around the world, being in at CNN on the ground floor, and and creating Captain Planet. Read The Meola/Pyle Backstreets Interview to learn more and see more of her incredible E Street Band images from '75.
If you can't down to Carmine Galleries yourself, we can still hook you up with a signed book — we have copies of copies of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 1975 in stock here at Backstreet Records, a beautiful hardcover that Barbara signed especially for us. - August 10, 2018 - all photographs by Barbara Pyle
THROWBACK THURSDAY: THE BUZZARD & THE BOSS, 40 YEARS AGO TONIGHT
On this night in 1978, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played the Agora in Cleveland for a soon-to-be-legendary broadcast on WMMS: The Buzzard. Introduced by Kid Leo ("round for round, pound for pound, there ain't no finer band around!"), Springsteen and the E Streeters opened this Darkness tour stop with Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" into "Badlands." As then-WMMS Program Director John Gorman recalls in our special Cleveland issue, Backstreets #89, "The segue was like launching a rocket. Each song just kept building and building and building."
Gorman also noted that "the radio audience was estimated at three million, and the show was one of Springsteen's most-recorded and most-bootlegged." Fast forward four decades, and an official archive release has replaced many of those boots. (Read more about the concert and its 2014 release here.) Whatever you've got, it's a good day to throw on 8/9/78 and blast that baby all the way to New Jersey. - August 9, 2018 - images courtesy of thelightindarkness.com
FROM THE TIN ROOFTOP The feature-length Thunder Road's NYC premiere will take place up on the roof... with some free tix and afterparty invites for Backstreets readers We first reported in March that independent filmmaker Jim Cummings has completed an expanded theatrical version of his 2016 seriocomic short film Thunder Road. The award-winning, critically acclaimed, feature-length version relates the further adventures of Officer James Arnaud (played by Cummings) after delivering an awkward eulogy for his late Bruce Springsteen-loving mother, Brenda Arnaud.
(Click here to watch Cummings' original single-scene short, and here to listen to our archived 2016 conversation with Cummings about the film.)
Tickets are only $16 each and can be purchased by clicking here. Thanks to Rooftop Films, the first 20 Backstreets readers who enter the promotional code FREETHUNDER when placing their ticket order can receive up to two FREE tickets, and all Backstreets readers who order by clicking on the link from this page will be permitted to attend the screening's invite-only afterparty.
The New York City screening of the film is part of an ongoing series of theatrical Thunder Road screenings that will continue taking place in various U.S. locations before the film becomes available on iTunes in October. Cummings has entered into a unique distribution partnership with The Sundance Institute that allows him to retain complete ownership of his film and direct control over its distribution and marketing.
We recently re-connected with Jim, who expressed to us his enthusiasm for the Sundance partnership as well as this Saturday's screening in New York. Being a fellow Springsteen fan, Cummings also was very eager to inform us about Thunder Road's late-July New Jersey screening at Red Bank's Two River Theater — where Springsteen's 2005 VH-1 Storytellers special was filmed — as part of the 2018 Indie Street Film Festival.
And Jim Cummings isn't just bad and nationwide now; he's bad and worldwide, too. Check out the poster for Thunder Road's French theatrical run that Jim shared with us [above]. The film's international distribution plan eventually will result in theatrical screenings and/or online streaming access virtually everywhere on the planet. No matter where you live, Thunder Road will be coming soon to some kind of screen near you.
Cummings also talked about the connection he sees between the innovative work done by musicians like Bruce Springsteen and independent filmmaking's modern approaches to creation/distribution. "I was listening to Nebraska on my way to Thunder Road's world premiere in Austin at SXSW 2018," he told us, "and I started thinking about how creatively the available technology was used to make and distribute such an offbeat album. This kind of stuff's been happening in music for years; filmmaking's just catching up."
To keep catching up with news on Jim Cummings and the 2018 version of Thunder Road, visit the film's Facebook and Instagram pages regularly. And Jim looks forward to meeting many Backstreets readers at this Saturday's special New York screening. If you live in or near the Big Apple, click here to order your tickets today. - August 6, 2018 - Shawn Poole reporting
THE MEN WHO COULD Latest First Friday archive release features Springsteen's triumphant June 5, 1981 London finale In 1981, six years since his last visit, London was ready for Bruce Springsteen. "Hungry Heart" was a hit, and demand for tickets to his forthcoming U.K. tour outstripped supply by a ratio of three-to-one. Yet Springsteen was approaching his appearances in the capital with trepidation. After his over-hyped debut at Hammersmith Odeon in 1975, there was unfinished business to settle. Memories of that trip haunted him for a long time; in the interim, despite little media exposure, no concerts, and only two albums, his U.K. audience had grown considerably.
Springsteen was not the only one being cautious. As if testing the water, the tour came together gradually. Three shows, scheduled for March and April, were announced before Christmas 1980. Extra dates were added weekly throughout January. In March, four days before it was due to begin, the tour was postponed until May and June because Springsteen was exhausted after completing his U.S. dates. A month after this E Street reshuffle, four more shows were added, making a final total of 16 — his longest U.K. tour with the E Street Band to date.
Following 17 shows in mainland Europe, Springsteen began his U.K. tour on May 11 and gradually worked his way towards London. There, he would play six nights at the 12,500-capacity Wembley Arena. The moment of truth was approaching, but beneath the nerves lay a commitment and determination that would see him through. In his autobiography, Bruce wrote, "We were not the naïve beach bums who stepped out of a British Airways 747 half a decade back. I knew I had a hell of a band and if we couldn't do the job, show me the men who could."
He needn't have worried. On May 29 he was greeted by an ecstatic crowd, and his performance inspired a string of superlatives in both the national press and the weekly music papers. "Any doubts he might have had about the London audience must have been dispelled the first time he held the microphone out and heard his words bellowed back at him without a moment's hesitation," reported Sounds. "This wasn't a concert, it was an event in rock music," said the Evening Standard, while the NME praised "an honourable and satisfying performance." Mission accomplished. With his fears allayed and his reputation reinforced, Springsteen could relax and enjoy the remaining Wembley gigs on May 30 and June 1, 2, 4 and 5.
Photograph courtesy of the Point Blank Archive
Having seen three shows in the space of five days, I was hungry for a fourth. I was 23 and no stranger to live concerts, but these were unlike anything I'd seen before, setting the bar impossibly high. Succumbing to temptation, I jumped on a train. Arriving at Wembley on June 5 with nothing but faith and hope, I paid a scalper six times face value for a seat near the stage, walked in, and never looked back.
Right: signing autographs outside Wembley. Photograph courtesy of the Point Blank Archive
A mobile recording truck was spotted outside the arena that night, and Point Blank fanzine soon reported that a four-track "Live at Wembley" EP was due for release later that year, but the plan was eventually scrapped. "There is to be no EP, although that show was recorded," confirmed Dave Marsh in subsequent correspondence with Point Blank editor Dan French, while Capital Radio DJ Roger Scott told him, "[Jon] Landau said it had been discussed, but it would probably not be happening because of lack of time for mixing the tracks." This proposed release would have enabled fans to obtain a high-quality audio souvenir, but instead the master tapes were consigned to the vaults.
There's perhaps no greater statement of intent than opening a concert with your most famous song. Thus, Bruce Springsteen began his final London gig with "Born to Run" and maintained an energy level that didn't subside until he and the E Street Band took their bows at the end. The notes I scribbled down afterward reveal that he began the first "serious" set at 8:10pm, broke for the regular intermission at 9:20pm, returned for the second "fun" set at 10pm, and didn't walk off for the final time after the last of several encores until 11:45pm.
Photograph courtesy of the Point Blank Archive
The 31-song set reflects how the shows had evolved since the tour began in October. Even at almost three hours, it was considerably shorter than the marathon concerts Springsteen had played at the end of 1980. Most of the album material was drawn from Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River (excluding many of the significant ballads from sides three and four). Only three songs from Born to Run appeared, and with the exception of "Rosalita," nothing from his first two records. I was struck by how these powerful live performances surpassed their recorded counterparts, and fascinated by embellishments like the piano prelude to "Point Blank" and the "Here She Comes" intro to "I Wanna Marry You," its U.K. debut and first performance since February.
Right: photograph by Geoff Nagle
One-third of the set consisted of unreleased songs or covers. Throughout the tour, Springsteen had been under the spell of John Fogerty and Woody Guthrie, as demonstrated by the appearance of "Who'll Stop the Rain" and "This Land Is Your Land." Also included were "Fire" and "Because the Night" (familiar now but a revelation then), a rare appearance of "I Fought the Law," and the live debut of "Jole Blon," from Gary U.S. Bonds' Dedication album.
In Europe, the ghost of Elvis also exerted an influence. Springsteen unveiled three Presley-related songs on the tour and played them all on June 5. The first was a slowed-down, rewritten version of "Follow That Dream," the movie's title track. Second was "Johnny Bye Bye." Developed from the outtake "(Come On) Let's Go Tonight," it referenced Chuck Berry's "Bye Bye Johnny" and was slower and more elegiac than the version later released as a B-side. Lastly, he included "Can't Help Falling in Love" (its only U.K. appearance) in the encores, providing breathing space between the drama of "Jungleland" and a riotous, 11-minute, houselights-up "Detroit Medley." "Shake" and "Sweet Soul Music" augmented the usual four-pack and inspired the audience to stamp their feet so hard that the lighting rig above the stage began to bounce gently up and down on its moorings.
Left: photograph by Geoff Nagle
It was an undisputed rock 'n' roll masterclass. My memories include Clarence Clemons walking on wearing a bowler hat like a London city gent, and Bruce clambering over PA stacks to get close to the fans in the upper tiers. He also stood on the piano, did a knee-slide along the stage, talked about his dad before "Independence Day," danced with Obie during "Sherry Darling," and introduced the band during "Rosalita." Apologizing for the earlier postponement, he thanked everyone for their support in the years when he'd been conspicuous by his absence.
As I walked out into the night, I was hoping for a swift return engagement at the arena, but fate had other plans. As we would discover, the River tour was not the pinnacle of Springsteen's career. Three years later, Born in the U.S.A. made him a megastar, and when he eventually returned to north-west London in 1985, it was to play three nights at Wembley Stadium. Although he returned to Wembley Arena with other musicians in subsequent years, Springsteen has, to date, only played one other show there with the E Street Band. That makes their 1981 shows, and the final night in particular, even more significant.
TELL HIM I'M GONNA BE A STAR...
'Cause I got my picture on the cover of Harper's Bazaar!
A new Harper's Bazaar cover story on "Families That Rock" spotlights apples falling close to the tree, as "the greats of rock, pop, and rap come together with their promising offspring and prove that the legacy lives on."
Bruce and Jessica Springsteen grace the magazine cover, with the feature also spotlighting
the families of Kanye West, Christina Aguilera, Erykah Badu, and Keith Richards. Get a sneak peak online: BAZARRICONS 2018: The First Families of Music. The September 2018 issue of Harper's Bazaar hits newsstands on August 21.
- August 2, 2018
DOMO ARIGATO, SONY JAPAN
Latest arrivals at Backstreet Records
We were all more than a little surprised when the latest Springsteen box set, Album Collection Vol 2: 1987-1996, was released in vinyl and digital download configurations only. Major labels forgoing CDs for vinyl? That would not have been easily predicted in 1987-1996. But it's true: despite Vol 1's continued availability on compact disc, there's no silver disc love from Sony/Columbia for Vol 2.
Except in Japan.
We've just imported a stack of the Album Collection Vol 2CD box set, out this month from Sony Japan, which contains all the same albums and EPs on compact disc, in cardboard mini-LP sleeves (with mini obi strips, too). Act fast if you're in need — we'll try to keep restocking, but quantities are limited. As with the vinyl box, we're including our second Jersey Shore coaster pack with all orders as a bonus, exclusively from Backstreet Records.
Also new to our shelves: the Greatest Hits 2LP set on black vinyl. On Record Store Day the 1995 title — which is not part of the Album Collection Vol 2 box but a good companion to it — was reissued on red vinyl in a limited edition; this black 150-gram pressing is the wide release. Both utilize the same Plangent remasters.
SOULFIRE LIVE! GETS PHYSICAL NEXT MONTH Physical formats of Little Steven's live set to feature extensive notes, fan photos, and bonus tracks — two with Springsteen Although not scheduled for release until mid-August, the CD format of Little Steven's Soulfire Live! is being sold at concerts on his current month-long European tour with the Disciples of Soul, which ends in London on July 27. With a total running time of 213 minutes across three discs, it includes 12 additional songs to the download version that was released nearly three months ago.
Recorded at various unspecified locations, the first two discs of Soulfire Live! replicate a typical show from last year's tour, from opener "Soulfire" to closer "Out Of the Darkness" by way of "Down and Out in New York City," with the addition of a once-only version of "Checkpoint Charlie" from Berlin and an introduction by legendary songwriter Mike Stoller from Los Angeles. "We recorded every gig," explains Steven in his liner notes. "We jump around from town to town, song to song, once in a while even in the middle of a song."
The fold-out package includes a 32-page full-color booklet packed with fan photographs, musician and production credits, and extensive song annotations by Steven. "We all passed through different genres growing up and blues was a big one for me," he says in relation to "Blues Is My Business." "You take a little bit from here and a little bit from there and that's how you form your identity. There's some Albert King in there, some Hubert Sumlin, some Buddy Guy and a lot of Mike Bloomfield, who I just love."
In the notes accompanying "Some Things Just Don't Change," Steven reveals how singing such material "made me appreciate Southside Johnny even more. When I gave him these songs I didn't really have any desire to be my own performer or a frontman, so I was able to express my artistic creativity through him. He's been out there all these years keeping my music alive, when I myself was not."
Of particular interest is the 60-minute-long third disc of bonus tracks, the majority of which are once-only covers of songs by the likes of Tom Petty, John Lennon and The Allman Brothers, while a few feature special guests. Among these are Richie Sambora, Peter Wolf and Bruce Springsteen, who appears on "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" from Holmdel and "I Don't Want To Go Home" from Red Bank.
Soulfire Live! (which will also be released on vinyl) captures the exciting atmosphere of Little Steven's first tour in almost three decades and provides a musical history lesson as it switches genres from rock to soul, blues, jazz and reggae. If you were there, it's a perfect souvenir. If you weren't, it will make you want to come next time.
"This tour takes place at a transitional moment in my life as I re-introduce myself to my own work," says Steven, whose spoken introductions and stories are also included. "We wanted to capture that first connection to a new audience and I believe we did. This fantastic band and crew made Year One of my rebirth a great pleasure and I am grateful to them all. Much gratitude to the audiences worldwide for their enthusiasm and support. And by the way, no part of the show was re-recorded. It is what it is. Enjoy!"
BIDDING IS OPEN NOW FOR THE KACF SUMMER AUCTION
This summer is the 25-year milestone for the Kristen Ann Carr Fund, still going strong after Bruce Springsteen launched the organization with a sold-out Madison Square Garden benefit concert on 6/26/93. You can continue to help the cancer-fighting non-profit (and score some amazing collectibles) with the KACF Summer Auction, live now.
HUNGRY HEART PRESENTS BRUCE'S BIRTHDAY BASH IN LONDON Grab tickets now for this Springsteen-dedicated party on Sat, Sept 22 You may remember a little while back we posted about London-based Springsteen blogger, Burgers and Bruce. Hannah, or Burger Girl (as Bruce calls her), is missing the big Springsteen stadium tours that used to define her summer months, so she has now taken matters into her own hands with Hungry Heart, the UK's only Springsteen-dedicated club night. Imagine the joyous, life-affirming and liberating feeling of being in a Springsteen pit... but in a club! With a beer in your hand! That's what Hungry Heart is going for.
Hannah has buddied up with another Springsteen mega fan Thom (co-founder of the indy pizza chain Pizza Pilgrims) to bring these all-Springsteen parties to the good people of London (and beyond — we've already heard of people flying in from California, Ireland, and Norway just to be there).
The next night is taking place on Saturday, September 22, to celebrate — you guessed it — Bruce Springsteen's birthday. Hannah describes the event as "New Years Eve for Bruce fans, with a DJ spinning non-stop Springsteen tracks."
From the big hits to rarely heard versions, the mega sound system at Mick’s Garage in Hackney Wick will be belting out crystal clear Bruce Springsteen bumper-to-bumper for seven whole hours. Drink, dance, sing, and make new friends at this big birthday bash. There'll be burgers from one of London's hottest street food traders (you saw the blog name, right?) and beers flowing (this is a brewery, after all).
"JERSEY AND LONG ISLAND BUST THE CITY IN HALF"
Last night in NYC, Bruce Springsteen headed downtown from 48th Street to 33rd, to join Billy Joel for a big night at Madison Square Garden. Celebrating his unprecedented 100th lifetime show at the Garden, Billy brought Bruce out midway through Wednesday night's concert, introducing him as "an old friend of mine... an Oscar-winner, Grammy-winner... and a Tony Award-winner, please welcome Bruce Springsteen!"
Taking the stage with mic in hand, to plenty of Brooocing and a hug from his pal, Springsteen congratulated Billy on 100 shows before counting the band into "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out." "Do it again, do it again!" he called to Billy's horn section, before working the stage and hopping up on the piano as he has at the Garden many times before — though not in the triple digits. Billy took the second verse, and Bruce didn't miss the opportunity for a perfect lyric change: "They made that change uptown, and the Piano Man joined the band!" And of course, "Jersey and Long Island bust the city in half."
Soon Bruce was strapping on his trusty Fender for one more: "Born to Run." Billy sang the second verse on this one, too, and his longtime saxman Mark Rivera joined Bruce center stage for a deft turn on the iconic sax solo. Interestingly, one other band member on stage has played that solo before, as this appearance also reunited Springsteen with '92-93 bandmember Crystal Taliefero.
Watch the full appearance above — pretty thrilling to see Springsteen not only back in his rock 'n' roll element with two classics, but to be sharing a big moment with his Columbia compatriot. As proclaimed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, yesterday was officially Billy Joel Day in the state of New York — congrats to Billy on the honor and on 100 nights at the World's Most Famous Arena. - July 19, 2018 - photograph via Twitter/@WineConcierge - setlist via Twitter/@billyjoel
SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY COMING TO NETFLIX DECEMBER 15 Landau: Broadway film will present the show "intact and complete"
Those who spotted TV trucks outside the Walter Kerr Theatre yesterday, or heard rumblings about filming this week, may not be surprised to hear it... perhaps the biggest surprise is that the news is officially confirmed already today: "Tony Winner Bruce Springsteen Coming to Netflix."
Five months from now, just as the Springsteen on Broadway run comes to a close on 48th Street, a filmed performance of the one-man show, directed by Thom Zimny, will debut on Netflix around the world. From today's Shore Fire Media press release:
Springsteen on Broadway will launch globally on Netflix on December 15, 2018, which is also the final night of Springsteen's completely sold out 236-show run at Jujamcyn's Walter Kerr Theatre on Broadway...
Springsteen on Broadway is written by Bruce Springsteen, and directed and produced by Emmy Award-winner Thom Zimny (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Live in New York City (2001)). In addition to Zimny, the film is being produced by the same team that produced Springsteen on Broadway, including Springsteen manager Jon Landau, Springsteen tour director George Travis, and Landau Management partner Barbara Carr.
Said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, Netflix: "We are thrilled to bring Bruce Springsteen — a master storyteller, humanitarian and voice of the everyman — to Netflix in this historic one man show. This groundbreaking experience defies the boundaries of theater, concerts and film and will give our global audience an intimate look at one of the biggest cultural icons of our time."
Said Springsteen manager, Jon Landau: "The purpose of the film is to bring this incredibly intimate show to Bruce's entire audience intact and complete. In addition to its many other virtues, Netflix has provided for a simultaneous worldwide release which is particularly important for our massive international audience. Ted Sarandos and the entire company's support has been a perfect match for Bruce's personal commitment to the filmed version of Springsteen on Broadway."
Bruce Springsteen's historic sold-out series of performances of his one man show Springsteen on Broadway began previews on October 3, 2017 and officially opened October 12. The show was extended three times after its initial eight-week run, and will close on Broadway on December 15, 2018, bringing the total number of performances to 236.
Monthly cost of the Netflix service: less than 15 bucks. Verified. - July 18, 2018 - photograph by Harvey C. Brill
JOE GRUSHECKY & THE HOUSEROCKERS
JOHNNY PISANO'S PUNK ROCK PIZZERIA July 14, The Wonder Bar, Asbury Park, NJ
Asbury Park, summertime, and music — the perfect trio. On Saturday night a cool breeze, the sounds of the ocean echoing along the boardwalk, and a sold-out crowd at The Wonder Bar provided the perfect setting for one of the Jersey Shore's favorite bands, Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers. On this night, the Wonder Bar was filled with fans who made the pilgrimage to Asbury from near and far to spend time with friends, both old and new, who share the same passion for a summer's night of music in the Park.
Johnny Pisano's Punk Rock Pizzeria began the evening. A boy from Brooklyn, Johnny [right] began playing bass at age 13 and has shared the stage with the likes of The Ramones, Debbie Harry, The Counting Crows, and Jesse Malin.
For the past ten years, Johnny has become most identifiable as the bass player for Willie Nile, recently deciding to take a leap of faith and front his own band. Johnny's set included a reggae version of the Nile hit "One Guitar," which brought the crowd to sing and sway on their feet. Pisano said he loves to play in Asbury Park because the fans are "so passionate for music…. The power of music, there is nothing like it", he smiled.
With one foot in the teaching world and one foot in the rock music world, Joe Grushecky has been a staple on the Jersey Shore scene for 25 years. Stating that he never wanted to give up his music career, Grushecky admits he doesn't know how he balances it all. "I just do," he laughed. He described Asbury as a "real music town — it's in peoples' DNA".
Calling it his best album yet, Joe highlighted his recently released More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows during the show with an energy that permeated the crowd. The album took about a year and a half to record, Joe's son and bandmate Johnny Grushecky having a heavy hand in the album's production. "That's What Makes Us Great," the album's new protest song that features Bruce Springsteen's vocals on the recording, came out toward the end of the night.
Also among the songs the Houserockers performed were five that Grushecky co-wrote with Springsteen: "Code of Silence," "Another Thin Line," "Homestead," "Dark and Bloody Ground," and "I'm Not Sleeping."
During the set, Joe's preamble to "Work in Progress" stated that he is just getting started, and that there's more to come. His poignant dedication of "Never Be Enough Time" to Bob Benjamin, a longtime friend and the founder of the Light of Day Foundation, allowed the crowd to feel the love and reverence he has for Benjamin. Grushecky credits Light of Day with "keeping Asbury alive." This sold-out crowd was happy — happy to be a part of this celebration of summer and this celebration of life. - July 17, 2018 - reporting and photographs by Lisa Magliano
George Theiss from a 1965 Castiles band photo - courtesy of Billy Smith
GEORGE THEISS, 1949-2018
George Theiss died on Friday after a two-year battle with lung cancer. He was 68. Theiss was Bruce Springsteen's bandmate in their teen-years band The Castiles; Springsteen is now the last surviving member of that band.
Theiss formed The Castiles — named after the shampoo that he used — in late 1964 and was the band's lead singer. He had been dating Virginia Springsteen for a while before learning that her brother could play the guitar; George soon invited Bruce to join the band.
In his Born to Run autobiography, Springsteen identified The Castiles as "my first real band" and devoted an entire chapter to that important, formative period of his life. Bruce wrote lovingly of Tex and Marion Vinyard, a childless working-class couple in their thirties: "friends of George who had decided to surrender the fifteen square feet of what was called their dining room to local teenage noisemakers." He also described George Theiss as "the best vocalist we had. He had a real voice and charisma and did the job well. I was considered toxic in front of a microphone, my voice the butt of many of Tex's jokes, and years later, after selling millions of records, I would visit Tex and he would take grand pleasure in sneering at me, 'You still can't sing. George is the singer.'"
The memoir's acknowledgments section contains a special shout-out "to my friend and old bandmate George Theiss for jogging my memory on some of our Castiles adventures."
In 2002, both Springsteen and Theiss joined Marion Vinyard in Freehold, NJ for the dedication of Vinyard Park on the site where the Vinyards' home once stood [below.]
George, Marion, and Bruce at the Vinyard Park dedication, May 18, 2002 - photograph by Adrianne Peterpaul
After The Castiles broke up, George Theiss remained a fixture on the Jersey Shore music scene through the 1970s and 1980s, later leading Cahoots and The George Theiss Band, and continuing to write and perform. Click here to get a taste of just how good a singer Theiss remained, in this version of the Lee Dorsey classic "Ya Ya" from the November 17, 1990 Cahoots reunion at the Stone Pony.
Cahoots, which also included Tony "Boccigalupe" Amato, John Luraschi and Mike Scialfa, reportedly almost got a record deal at CBS in the mid-1970s, after Springsteen advocated on the band's behalf, but did not have the same luck as fellow Jersey Shore artists Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. Amato, who remained close to Theiss, commented on Facebook upon his passing: "Last night I lost my best friend, bandmate, writing partner, and big (older) brother of 43 years. Handsome George with an infectious smile, who, upon my releasing songs he wrote, delightedly decided to tell me he hated the way I sing... Forever grateful to be with you until the end. Love you always."
Hangin' with "Handsome George" (right) - photo courtesy of Tony Amato (left)
Theiss also had modest success with his eponymous band (which included former Steel Mill bassist Vinnie Roslin), frequently appearing at the Stone Pony and Big Man's West and even opening for Clarence Clemons' band the Red Bank Rockers at the Capitol Theatre in 1982. The 1999 CD compilation The Spirit of Asbury Park included the band's "Holy Lightning," which featured a strong Theiss lead vocal.
In his interview for the 2008 book Local Heroes: The Asbury Park Music Scene, Theiss reflected on the tendency towards artistic perfectionism and restlessness that he shared with his famous former bandmate: "I've got a little studio downstairs. I can spend hours, days in there, with coffee and cigarettes. I'm just pushing notes around. It drives my wife crazy, and sometimes it does the same to me," he said with a laugh. "I still like to play. Part of me just wants to have a good time; that's the part that makes me think: of course, of course, we're just having fun. But then the other side, the cautious side, takes over. That's why I always end up tearing my songs apart. Redoing them, over and over again."
Theiss and his wife Diana moved to North Carolina in 2010, and he continued to remain active musically with "Too Tall" Tom Dimmock, a fellow veteran of the Jersey Shore music scene who also emigrated to the woods of North Caroline. Check out Too Tall Tom's Facebook page, where he's just posted some great archival video clips of George Theiss in action, including some fun, kick-ass 2013 vocals on "Walking the Dog," "Deepwoodsball" and "It's All Over Now," as well as a moving in-memoriam video.
Backstreets extends our deepest condolences to all of George Theiss's family and friends. - July 16, 2018 - Lisa Iannucci and Shawn Poole reporting - special thanks to Craig Scupp and Billy Smith
HAPPY 25th ANNIVERSARY TO PATTI SCIALFA'S RUMBLE DOLL
A quarter-century ago today, Columbia Records released the debut album by Patti Scialfa. Of course, Patti was well-known already as a vocalist in the E Street Band for more than a decade (not to mention for her choice of life partner). Rumble Doll announced her not as a singer, but a full-blown singer-songwriter to be reckoned with.
In the same way that her husband had been tackling adult themes in rock 'n' roll, Scialfa's missives dealt honestly and insightfully with growin' up and the complications of adult relationships. It may be tempting to try to glean some autobiographical revelations — from her work, Bruce's, or any other — and when Rumble Doll came out, it was easy to comb through a song like "Come Tomorrow" for lyrical confessions. But the power and appeal of Rumble Doll lies firmly in its songs as songs.
Produced by Heartbreaker Mike Campbell, Patti's music on Rumble Doll updated the sounds of many of her influences, particularly girl groups and '50s/'60s rock 'n' roll, with a touch of Campbell's Heartbreak, too. Twenty-five years later, Rumble Doll holds up — not only does the album not sound dated, it remains an achievement from start to finish, including the pop perfection of its singles "Lucky Girl" and "As Long as I (Can Be With You)."
If it's been a while — or if you've never spent time with Rumble Doll, released July 13, 1993 — there's no time like the present.
- July 13, 2018
ROCK AND ROLL FUTURE: FINAL WEEK! Our first Kickstarter campaign closes 7am Friday
We're on the home stretch. It's still not too late to pledge, get your name in the book, and even choose from a collection of special edition 8x10 photos from our Kickstarted BruceSpringsteen: Rock and Roll Future as part of your reward.
With two days left to go, this will be your last opportunity to take advantage of some of the one-time-only rewards created exclusively for Kickstarter. We've had an incredible response to date, allowing us to produce a book that is even better than we'd imagined. And we're so grateful to the community that made it happen.
Making your pledge for a book now will make sure one is reserved for you, and Kickstarter backers will be the first to receive Rock and Roll Future. If you choose one of the higher levels you'll also be rewarded with an 8x10 signed photo, or more. These 8x10s will no longer be available after the Kickstarter ends.
If we reach our last remaining stretch goal, all backers set to receive a book will get an additional special 8x10 photo along with it. This new take on a classic image [above] has never been offered before. That final stretch goal, $92K in funding, originally seemed like a real longshot... but as the end of the campaign approaches, it's actually within reach. With so much community support, backing the project and spreading the word, we're less than $8K away, as of this writing. If we make that final goal, everyone deserves a reward... and everyone will get one!
ROXY 1978... 40 YEARS LATER AT THE STONE PONY We've had The Roxy '78 on the brain lately — not to mention blasting from our speakers — with the archive release of the historic Sunset Strip show on Friday and its 40th anniversary on Saturday. You can read more about 7/7/78 below, and see some classic Roxy bootleg covers on Instagram. And this weekend in Asbury Park, you can see the concert recreated live.
Tramps Like Us, the highly acclaimed Springsteen tribute band, and The Stone Pony will be celebrating the 40th anniversary with a performance of the full Roxy '78 set on Saturday, July 14. Advance tickets are suggested and can be purchased from Ticketmaster.
Having re-created nine historic Springsteen concerts so far, including the legendary Capitol Theatre and Winterland shows to name a few, Tramps Like Us will perform this entire magical Darkness show just as it was 40 years ago. Well, without the KMET broadcast.
More information about this special night at the Pony can be found here. Find out more about the band at trampslikeus.com and on their Facebook page. - July 10, 2018
SOUTHSIDE'S SOULTIME! HITS THE SUMMER STAGE IN ASBURY PARK Listen Wednesday for an encore broadcast on E Street Radio There’s nothing like a warm, summer evening in Asbury Park, New Jersey. And if you were down there this past weekend, you may have heard one of the true legends of the Jersey Shore music scene: Southside Johnny Lyon brought his Asbury Jukes and their Soultime tour to the Stone Pony’s outdoor Summer Stage on Saturday for their annual July 4 extravaganza.
Much of New Jersey had been baking under an oppressive heatwave in the days leading up to the show, and by the time Southside hit the stage, the sun was still bright. When it was announced that the concert was being aired live on SiriusXM’s E Street Radio, an extra cheer went up from the crowd. But no extra energy was needed from either the crowd or the Jukes, as they both brought plenty to the Summer Stage.
As the sun dipped behind the stage, Southside took off his shades, a breezy tradewind kicked in, and the heatwave broke. By the time Jeff Kazee — in his trademark porkpie hat — and Southside Johnny traded vocals on "I Don't Want To Go Home," the audience didn’t want to go home, either.
Evening slid into night, and the bright neon of the nearby Empress Hotel lit up the south side of the Asbury Park boardwalk. The capacity crowd of nearly 5,000 were happy — happy to be spending a beautiful Asbury Park evening singing and dancing along with Southside Johnny and his Asbury Jukes.
Remember Jones, a one-of-a-kind soul/pop singer, storyteller, and bandleader with a throw-back vibe and authentic energy, opened the late-afternoon festivities. Collaboratively supported by a large ensemble of musicians (featuring three backing vocalists, a horn section, and a six-piece rhythm section), he and a few of his bandmates would join the Jukes on stage during the encore for all-out blitz of music and dancing.
Mark Krajnak of JerseyStyle Photography was there to capture the fun and provided these photos. If you missed E Street Radio's live broadcast of the concert, you can catch again with a replay this Wednesday, July 11, after Live From E Street Nation at noon Eastern/9am Pacific. - July 9, 2018 - photographs by Mark Krajnak
ALRIGHT, LOS ANGELES!
In time for its 40th, The Roxy arrives: remixed, restored, and rockin' In short order, Bruce Springsteen's July 7, 1978 show in Los Angeles became known simply by the place where it happened: The Roxy. Select concerts earn that distinction — Sinatra has the Sands, the Grateful Dead have Cornell, the Who have Leeds — but Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town tour has this one, the Agora, Passaic, Atlanta, and Winterland, too.
That's because Springsteen marshalled the power of radio that year. Each of these broadcasts had its own vibe, setlist, and geographic reach. Amplified thousands of times over by tape trading and its bête noire, bootlegging, they helped raise his profile in the U.S. and attract new fans overseas, too.
Previous Springsteen concerts had gone out over the airwaves — one in 1975 originated from the same Sunset Strip nightclub — but this, the first '78 radio performance, has shock appeal like no other. Taking the stage, Springsteen asked for lights, apologized for a messy ticketing situation, then offered the biggest understatement of his career: we're gonna do some rock 'n' roll for you.
Historian Clinton Heylin wrote that Jon Landau wanted something big for Los Angeles. The timeline afforded plenty of opportunity: Springsteen played the second of two shows in Berkeley on July 1, rocked the Forum on July 5, and wasn't due in Phoenix until July 8. Camped out in Los Angeles, he mixed live recordings from Berkeley and conducted interviews for both radio and television. The seven-minute segment with Channel 7's J.J. Jackson included footage from both sets at the Forum and likely stands as the first TV news interview Springsteen ever granted.
courtesy of Pete Howard
The date at the Roxy came together quickly, though there was enough time for a mention to appear in the Los Angeles Times. With demand for tickets far outstripping supply, an FM broadcast was bound to register as a bona fide event. Paired with the TV interview, the tour's radio debut became a de facto unveiling of the personae and structure that carried Springsteen and the E Street Band at least through Born in the U.S.A., forged in the aftermath of alleged hype, litigation with his first manager, and the death of Elvis Presley.
Buddy Holly was very much alive that summer, in spirit anyway: Springsteen had taken in a showing of The Buddy Holly Story that week, jammed with the actor Gary Busey (who portrayed the young singer in the film), and at some point worked up a spot-on take of "Rave On" with the E Street Band, with which Holly had a hit in 1958. Debuted at the Roxy, it remains one of their more audacious and memorable starts: in an instant, they just took off, making good on the promise of rock 'n' roll, stated or otherwise. By the end of the first set, when Springsteen paired "Racing in the Street" with "Thunder Road," he'd hedged his bet on innocence, telling of a sign he'd seen in the desert West that read, "This is a land of peace, love, justice, and no mercy."
Official T-shirts printed by Columbia Records for the event - courtesy of Dick Wingate
Springsteen and the E Street Band played 26 songs that night, more than a third of which, like "Rave On," were unreleased or previously unplayed, including the first public airings of "Point Blank" and "Independence Day." The entirety sounded monumental, yet it wasn't out of the ordinary for that tour, whether "Prove It All Night" with the instrumental beginning or a fiery "Adam Raised a Cain." And Springsteen invoked Presley in the second set: when tuning proved too lengthy a proposition, he dispatched the Esquire and summoned the King, delivering a knockout cover of "Heartbreak Hotel."
That was a moment where hard work paid off. Already steeped and practiced in music, Springsteen sounded equally adroit in the art of radio. Between songs, he essentially called on listeners to imagine what it was he was doing. The best example came early, when the band didn't fire at the beginning of "Spirit in the Night." Springsteen turned that miscue ("now wait a minute — see, when I do this… let me do it again… this is what's supposed to happen!") into a make-believe moment for everyone tuned in at home or in the car.
For most fans, today's release supplants tapes made from the KMET signal; Springsteen began the second set by instructing bootleggers to "roll your tapes!" They did just that, yielding titles like Hands Toward the Sky and Roxy Night; in 2013, the file-sharing era upgrade Out There in Radioland, sourced from first-generation quarter-inch reels recorded at 7½ inches-per-second, superseded most if not all cassette captures. Officially, Springsteen himself called on nine selections from this performance for his Live/1975-'85 retrospective, making it the single biggest source for the box set and its attendant B-sides.
Stirring up some 40-year-old ghosts: The Roxy today - photograph by Jonathan Pont
This archival version coincides with the 40th anniversary of the broadcast and corrects many flaws, be it the occasional dropout, station ID, or the noise of telephone traffic as the sound traveled from the Roxy to KMET. It restores a notorious Live set edit, which excised the "Drive All Night"/"Sad Eyes" interlude in "Backstreets." Whether that served commercial, technical, or creative demands in 1986, it raised eyebrows and more than a few howls.
Fans invariably will compare The Roxy July 7, 1978 with the Live/1975-'85 set, one that Springsteen and his team of producers spent months assembling. Then, the Roxy material had to conform to a big '80s sound that framed the majority of the LPs' 40 tracks. Today, it only has to sound like we remember it: after 40 years of listening to what came over the air (or to recordings that arrived later) that's a heavy proposition, compounded by time and countless plays back. But if any set of music is up to that challenge, it's this one.
KICKSTARTER UPDATE: STRETCH GOAL REACHED FOR THE GATEFOLD!
As of last night, support for our forthcoming book on Kickstarter reached a level that allows us to add one more cool feature:
a page that folds out, so we'll be able to fully display Barry Schneier's "For You" triptych of Bruce Springsteen at the piano.
This extra-wide print was originally a series commissioned in 2017 as a special limited edition of only 15, and we are thrilled to be able to include a reproduction of it in the book.
Big thanks to everyone who made it happen.
This is the third stretch goal reached for the Rock and Roll Future book with your support, since the project reached its original funding goal two weeks ago. First we were able to add pages to print every Kickstarter backer's name in the book; next we added a slipcase (pictured below); and now we've got the gatefold.
And of course, none of these stretch goals increase the price of a pledge — they are true bonuses. Thanks to crowdfunding, more backers just means a better final product.
There's one stretch goal left, and it's a doozy: an exclusive 8x10 print with every book ordered via Kickstarter, no matter what the pledge level. When we came up with this idea, we thought we might be dreaming too big... but with one week left in the campaign, it's actually looking possible.
Barry Schneier's Rock and Roll Future is coming, thanks to the pledges of 594 Kickstarter backers and counting... we hope you'll check it out, watch the video, and join us if you haven't already! - July 6, 2018
WHEN ELLISON MET SPRINGSTEEN ACROSS THE RIVER
Highly acclaimed, beloved, and controversial author Harlan Ellison died at 84 last week. A passing reference to Bruce Springsteen can be found in the post-tale "mini-glossary" of Ellison's humorous short ghost story "Mom," written in 1976 and published in the 1978 collection Strange Wine, but here's a more interesting and little-known Ellison/Springsteen connection: Ellison read Peter David's short story "Killing Time by the River Styx," for the 2005 audiobook version of the Meeting Across the River: Stories Inspired by the Haunting Bruce Springsteen Song anthology. He didn't just read it; he performed it, dramatically bringing David's version of Springsteen's unnamed narrator to full, vibrant life... er, afterlife.
We asked Stefan Rudnicki of Skyboat Media, who produced and directed the audiobook version of Meeting Across the River, if he'd be kind enough to share with us some details about the project and Harlan Ellison's involvement with it. Here is Rudnicki's firsthand account:
The [anthology's] co-creators, Jessica Kaye and Richard Brewer, enlisted a group of writers distinguished mostly by their stylistic diversity. It seemed a testament to Springsteen's universally accessible creativity that this mosaic of talent could be united so fully by an ambiguous story-riddle in song.
My job as producer and director was to hire narrators as individual as the authors, and as invested in the tone and attitude of the song. This was August 2005, and I believe I had met Peter David at an event at Harlan's house not long before. When I read Peter's story, "Killing Time by the River Styx," it was a no-brainer to approach Harlan to perform it. I'd already been working with Harlan for about a decade as audio producer, and, besides being one of the finest and most authentic storytellers I've ever known, he seemed a natural for Peter's story.
Harlan was a musical omnivore, loving nearly every genre and style. He seemed to me familiar with at least some of Springsteen's music, and highly appreciative of it. All the more so as that music and its themes tied in to Harlan's own relationship with working folks and cities (New York especially). What Peter's story added to the mix is the stylistic amalgam he's best know for — noir fantasy.
In the studio, Harlan took a dive into the story, and in his typical fashion, nailed it. The result is there for anyone to hear.
Peter David also reminded us of what he wrote on his blog back in 2006, shortly after his friend's reading of the story received high praise from Publishers Weekly. David noted that Ellison "wouldn't have taken the gig if it wasn't cool with me. And part of me would have liked to do the reading myself, but then I thought, 'Y'know...it'll probably sound better if Harlan does it, so what the hell.' Obviously PW agreed."
Listen above to an excerpt of Harlan Ellison reading Peter David's "Killing Time by the River Styx." (Be advised that David’s story contains some very colorful and NSFW, if highly appropriate, profanity.) After that, click here to order your own copy of the Meeting Across The River audiobook, hear Ellison read the rest of David's story, and check out all of the other stories and readers in the anthology. - July 5, 2018 - Shawn Poole reporting
FOR INDEPENDENCE DAY 2018: FLASHING BACK TO "ONE OF THE GREATEST SONGS ABOUT HUMAN FREEDOM EVER WRITTEN"
Thirty years ago today, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were in the midst of the European leg of their Tunnel of Love Express Tour. Back home, it was the middle of a three-day Independence Day weekend. The first set of Springsteen's July 3 Stockholm concert was made available to the world via an international radio broadcast.
Bruce chose to close that set with something very special: a version of Bob Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom" (based on The Byrds' 1965 recording), a song that he and his band performed only once during the Darkness on the Edge of Town tour a decade before and had only just revived in each of the two shows preceding their July 3 show. Unlike any of those previous performances, however, this performance of "Chimes of Freedom" would feature a special introduction from Springsteen that was heard around the world:
Earlier today, Amnesty International announced a worldwide tour to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration of Human Rights is a document that was signed by every government in the world forty years ago, recognizing the existence of certain inalienable human rights for everyone, regardless of your race, your color, your sex, your religion, your political opinion or the type of government that you're living under. I was glad to be asked to participate, and I'm proud to join Sting, Peter Gabriel, Youssou Ndour and Tracy Chapman in a tour that's gonna begin in early September and is gonna run for about six weeks. So I'd like to dedicate this next song to the people at Amnesty International and their idea.... When we come to your town, come on out, support the tour, support human rights for everyone now... and let freedom ring.
To date, no decent video of the 7/3/88 "Chimes of Freedom" has surfaced, but there is a great pro-shot video [above] of Bruce and the Tunnel of Love Express Tour-era E Street Band again closing their set with "Chimes" just a few weeks later in Copenhagen. On that night, Bruce introduced Dylan's classic as "one of the greatest songs about human freedom ever written." We're sending this version of "Chimes of Freedom" out today with wishes to all for a happy, safe Independence Day holiday. Crank it up, and let freedom ring... everywhere. - July 3, 2018 - Shawn Poole reporting
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PROFESSOR!
Warm birthday wishes to Roy Bittan — the E Street Band's Secretary of Intelligence (and, of course, Dean of the University of Musical Perversity) is 69 today, born July 2, 1949.
- July 2, 2018 - photograph by Alan Chitlik
KICKSTARTER UPDATE: STRETCH GOALS ANNOUNCED It's an exciting place to be in a Kickstarter campaign: having our project quickly funded, thanks to early pledges, with time remaining to bring mnore backers on board and make our book even better.
Rock and Roll Future — written and photographed by Barry Schneier, edited by Chris Phillips, and published by Backstreets— is going to become a reality. To add some bells and whistles, to improve the overall quality, to say thanks again to all our current backers while encouraging new ones… we've come up with several Stretch Goals: funding tiers at which we can continue to enhance the beauty of the finished product as support continues to roll in.
We've already reached our first Stretch Goal: every backer's name will be listed in the book. We're so grateful to all the crowdfunders who are making this project possible, and we're now able to give credit where credit is due by adding pages for special Thank You section, giving every Kickstarter supporter a shout-out by name.
Looking ahead, here's what else we'll be able to add, with additional backing:
For more images and full details on each Stretch Goal, see our latest Kickstarter update here. As of this writing, we're tantalizingly close to reaching Stretch Goal #2, for the slipcase... If you like the looks of what we're putting together, please consider coming on board as a backer — the Kickstarter campaign is here. Thanks for your support, and we hope you'll help spread the word, as our book will get even cooler at each level! - June 30, 2018
GO IN THE BATHROOM, PUT YOUR MAKEUP ON There's been "Born to Run" the song, Born to Run the album, Born to Run the Dave Marsh book, Born to Run the Bruce Springsteen book, and now... Born to Run the makeup collection. We always thought you wanted your makeup not to run, but Urban Decay must know what they're doing. This isn't any kind of officially licensed or sanctioned Springsteen merch, though one has to wonder if creator (and Urban Decay founding partner/chief creative officer) Wende Zomnir might actually be a fan trying to evoke a bit of Boss magic (all while steering clear of any infringing references, of course). After all, the eyeshadow pallette includes shades named "Breakaway," "Stranded," and "Wildheart." Click here to judge for yourself and find out how to get your own Born to Run kit. - June 29, 2018 - Shawn Poole reporting
THROWBACK THURSDAY: D.J. FONTANA ROCKS WITH GARRY TALLENT Unreleased version of Cheap Trick track produced by Garry,featuring D.J. Fontana and Scotty Moore
We first posted this track on Soundcloud back in 2016, in recognition of the passing of the great Scotty Moore, D.J. Fontana's bandmate in Elvis Presley's original backing band The Blue Moon Boys. Both D.J. and Scotty rocked out with Cheap Trick on this unreleased version of "Bad Little Girl," written by Mike Campbell and Robin Zander and produced by Garry W. Tallent 22 years ago this month at Woodland Recording Studio in Nashville, TN for the album All the King's Men.
Now, with the last surviving member of The Blue Moon Boys having just passed, Garry Tallent's great "lost" recording of DJ and Scotty rockin' hard into their 60s is certainly worth revisiting. Click here to hear "Bad Little Girl," and check out these wonderful additional photos of D.J. Fontana with the members of Cheap Trick taken during the recording session, previously unposted here, from the archive of the late Dan Griffin, one of All the King's Men's executive producers. - June 28, 2018 - Shawn Poole reporting
KICKSTARTER: WE'VE REACHED OUR GOAL! By fans, for fans, the Rock and Roll Future book
is a go
Thanks to so many early Kickstarter supporters, this dream is going to become a reality: a hardcover photography book focused squarely on Bruce Springsteen's legendary Harvard Square Theatre performance on May 9, 1974. With the E Street Band including Ernest "Boom" Carter, Clarence Clemons, Danny Federici, David Sancious, and Garry Tallent, it's the night that inspired Jon Landau's famous Real Paper review.
Rock and Roll Future is a collaboration between Backstreets Publishing and Barry Schneier, the only photographer in the venue that night 44 years ago. This is our first foray into online crowdfunding; it was quickly tapped as a "Project We Love" by Kickstarter, and we reached our initial funding goal less than a week into our 30-day campaign.
Now that we've reached the minimum funding we needed to publish, our focus moves from the chance to make a book to how to make the best book we possibly can.
The more backers we have by the campaign's close on July 13, the better we can make the finished product.
So the Kickstarting continues!
For the next 16 days, you can get exclusive Kickstarter rewards: early-bird pricing on the book... signed copies... beautiful photographs from the night as exclusive, signed prints, from 8x10 to 16x20... these are all still available when you pledge at various levels to support Rock and Roll Future.
Further backing will get us closer to stretch goals that we'll be rolling out shortly — we have several ideas in mind to channel additional pledges back into the quality of the final book. Slipcases anyone? Stay tuned...
Whether you were an early backer who helped us reach our goal or a new backer who helps us keep momentum going, we're so grateful for your support. In fact, as crowdfunded projects like these go... we literally could not do it without you. - June 26, 2018
LAST NIGHT I DREAMED
A millennial's take on going off-script Tuesday, June 19, was the fifth time I saw Bruce Springsteen. At 23 years old, I'm lucky to enjoy his music as much as I do, let alone to have seen him multiple times. That's thanks to my father, who I took to see Springsteen on Broadway as a very-late Christmas present.
I had only seen Springsteen in arenas in front of massive crowds, never in a stripped-down, acoustic setting. Simply getting to watch such a personal show, along with my Springsteen-loving Dad, who's been to more shows than I could count and imparted his love for Springsteen to me, would have been memorable. That we were treated to a singular show, an affecting, off-the-script one, was serendipitous and special.
I entered Walter Kerr Theatre mostly as a clean slate, knowing generally of the show, but I’d avoided spoilers and details. The setlist was a mystery to me, as were the tales Springsteen would spin.
Having played in Asbury Park the night before, he looked a little weary when he entered (though at his age and with his experience, perhaps weary is the only way one can appear). He ambled across the stage and told his stories, waxing poetic about his relationships with his father and mother. I came closest to tears when he invoked the spirit of the late, beloved Clarence Clemons, pounding out a gorgeous version of "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" on the piano.
It was all a joy. Some stories, like the one about driving across the country in the night to try and make a gig in San Francisco, seemed straight out of a movie. His voice, aged and unable to quite hit the high notes that it used to, was still familiar, and still full of life.
All this, as I had expected, was on script. My father had informed me that, with a Tony Award in hand, Springsteen could possibly freelance a bit, utter a few new lines, or even perform an entirely different song. What we got was more than we bargained for.
You're likely aware by now of Springsteen's off-script excursion. He used his stage to discuss the events at our country's border, of the injustice being perpetrated in the name of Freedom. I have to quibble with Bruce's assertion that the aforementioned events are "un-American," as he called them, but he had my, and seemingly most of the theater’s, agreement in calling the situation "disgracefully inhumane."
The speech Springsteen gave was poignant. His statement, "these days... some reminding of who we are and who we can be isn't such a bad thing," cut two ways. Springsteen reminded us, in bringing up the March for Life earlier this year and the youthful activism that has cropped up across the country, of who we can be. In confronting the events at the border head on, he also reminded of us who we are.
Perhaps most powerfully, Bruce quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, stating "the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice," before smartly adding, "I've also lived long enough to know that arc doesn't bend on its own. It needs all of us leaning on it, nudging it in the right direction day after day. You gotta keep leaning."
I've heard Dr. King's quote many times before. As a millennial, my life has occurred during the Iraq War, the Great Recession, and now, the Trump Presidency. So it's clear that the arc is long, but for someone like me, it has never particularly appeared to bend towards justice.
Hearing someone of Springsteen's stature utter those words, though, was piercing. Here was a man who has actually lived long enough to see the bend towards justice. For Bruce to say those words, as someone who has watched the country grapple with segregation, the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam, the Cold War, the War on Drugs and the War on Terror, well, it could have seemed naive, but instead it lent hope. That has always been one of Springsteen's better qualities, his ability to both see the tragic and the hope.
The crowd, for the most part, cheered. Those who disagreed just didn't clap; some fidgeted in their seats, remaining quiet in their dissent: there were neither boos nor displays of anger. (I chuckle a bit when fans seem displeased with Springsteen's politics: it makes me question whether they've ever actually listened to his words).
At this point, the show had been excellent but workmanlike, and the "The Ghost of Tom Joad" gave it new energy. Springsteen's voice had just a little more strength, and he strummed with a little more vigor. The show had a new momentum as he powered through "The Rising" and "Dancing in the Dark."
He finished, as always, with "Born to Run," and the crowd rose to its feet. The applause was resounding in appreciation of the effort. We had been treated to not only a wonderful show, but also a unique one — the 146th iteration of Springsteen on Broadway, and yet the first of its kind. It was one that few if any had expected. I will never forget it.
Celebrities, those with a broad reach, aren't exactly obligated to do what Bruce did, to use their voice to say something of substance. That Bruce chose to, in such an intimate setting and off script, was heartening. It was right. - June 25, 2018 - Jake Devin reporting
Jay Weinberg, D.J. Fontana, and Max Weinberg, November 28, 2015 - courtesy of Max Weinberg
R.I.P. D.J. FONTANA (March 15, 1938 - June 13, 2018)
Max Weinberg remembers his hero and friend, Elvis Presley's drummer
D.J. Fontana was the drummer I saw who made me want to be a drummer. Before Ringo. When I first saw D.J., I was five. I had older sisters, and I'm so grateful they were aware of Elvis Presley before The Ed Sullivan Show. He was on TheMilton Berle Show and The Dorsey Brothers [Stage Show] way before Ed Sullivan. There was only one camera, and they had to get everybody in one shot. I actually have a kinescope of that. So it looked like four guys: Elvis, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and D.J. Fontana. It wasn't just Elvis, it wasn't just the singer — it was four guys playing.
Bruce has said that the snare shot in "Like a Rolling Stone" was like an explosion that kicked open the door to his mind. As a five-year-old, D.J.'s drumroll in "Hound Dog" was an explosion for me. That drum roll, that triple roll, was shocking. So D.J. Fontana is someone who I was aware of as a little boy, and that's what got me started playing the drums. D.J. Fontana was my hero. And of course this is still kind of a surprise; it's a shock to have D.J. gone, the last member of that quartet.
Scotty Moore, Max Weinberg, and D.J. Fontana on the set of Late Night With Conan O'Brien, 1998 - photo courtesy of scottymoore.net - thanks to Shawn Poole
I don't think that it's an understatement to say that he created and made famous rock 'n' roll drumming. What Elvis was to rock 'n' roll music — D.J. was the first guy. The archetypal rock 'n' roll drummer.
First, he was a Big Band drummer. Big Band drumming became rock drumming, and D.J. was the personification of everything that had gone on in drumming before. He absorbed all of that. In the '30s, Gene Krupa was the guy who drew attention to the drums. D.J. would speak about Don Lamond, who was about 15 years older and an amazing Big Band drummer — he played on all the Bobby Darin records, like "Mack the Knife" and "Beyond the Sea." Don Lamond, Buddy Rich… D.J. brought all that to rock 'n' roll music. He was an original.
D.J. was also very strong — a physically strong guy — so he had the big beat. As Levon Helm has said, D.J. added some architecture. D.J. had chops, he had power, he had taste... when he played the drums, no matter what he played on, it sounded like an Elvis Presley tune. It really did.
One of the greatest things I've ever seen was at that show in Red Bank that Garry [Tallent] put together [Alliance of Neigbors benefit, October 2001]. Garry was the musical director, and he had the Sun rhythm section come to play with Sonny Burgess. So Bruce came up to play a song with them, and they went into "Tiger Rose." As soon as D.J. hit the beat, the biggest smile came across Bruce's face — it sounded exactly like Elvis's rhythm. Nobody played that kind of music like D.J. Fontana.
October 2001, Red Bank, NJ [L-R]: Kern Kennedy (of Sonny Burgess's band The Pacers), Burgess, Bruce Springsteen, D.J. Fontana - photo courtesy of legendarypacers.com - thanks to Shawn Poole
Being a great drummer... he would have been a great drummer under any circumstances. But D.J. was a great drummer, and he played with Elvis Presley. It's so important to have the right platform, to have great songs to play. Otherwise, you can be a great drummer, but no one will know about it! I myself was so fortunate to connect with Bruce and the band, and to have that platform; I've had a number of great platforms during my career. So D.J. had it all — the chops, the passion, and the platform.
My son Jay and I went to see him, not too long ago, in Nashville. More than just my biggest influence and hero, D.J. became an extremely close friend of the family. In his kitchen, he has all these pictures — polaroid camera, old '50s pictures — that you've never seen before, of Elvis and the band, traveling around together. They've never been in a book. It just makes you realize… I mean, the lead singer of that group of musicians was Elvis Presley. Arguably the greatest singer in the history of rock 'n' roll. What a position to be in — to know Elvis Presley. To be in those close quarters with Elvis before he was successful… there are only three other guys in history who knew what that was like, and we just lost the last one.
And this is really crucial, a lot of people may not realize: they were a band. It was Elvis, sure, but it wasn't like Elvis was "Elvis Presley" yet. On a daily basis, it was the four of them in a car, driving 400 or 500 miles, with only each other to count on. Taking turns driving, playing all these little honky tonks and small places — those guys were dependent on each other. Plus, D.J. was four years older than Elvis. Elvis was only 19 or 20, and D.J. promised Gladys, Elvis's mother, that he'd look out for him. And he always did.
One of my favorite stories of D.J.'s is in my book [The Big Beat: Conversations with Rock's Greatest Drummers]. I asked him about his drum tuning, about the snare tuning on "Jailhouse Rock" and how he got that sound. Elvis bought him that drum set. They were driving through Houston, and there was a big music store, kind of like Manny's [Music] in New York, and it was called Brochstein's. They go there, and he sees this copper-colored set, and it had the animal skin on it that you'll see in the old pictures. And D.J. told me, "That's how it sounded when I got it from Brochstein's!" The greatest drum sound ever, and he didn't do anything: "That's the way I got it from Brochstein's!"
"That's the way I got it from Brochstein's!" Max and Jay Weinberg at the Fontana house, November 28, 2015 - courtesy of Max Weinberg
I think they made about $100 a week when they were playing. A lot of people don't know this, but the band broke up when Elvis went into the Army. Basically, Scotty and Bill quit when Elvis went into the Army, because they weren't making any money. Which is understandable. But D.J. said, you know, "I'm here." He did something — even if it was just tambourine — on just about every Elvis project until Elvis died.
In my book, he tells the story of the last time he saw Elvis. Elvis was standing by a horse rail fence, and he was in jeans. He never wore jeans in public; he wore a track suit or slacks. He never really dressed down. But here in private, he was in jeans and T-shirt. And he said, "D.J., sometimes I get so tired of being Elvis Presley."
But D.J. was a very successful session drummer for many years, and he did all the Elvis conventions. D.J. was softspoken, but he loved to talk about all those years, and he loved to sign autographs. For 45 years of his life, every day of his life, Elvis Presley. Always that guy, always happy to share his stories of the band, and fans loved him. He was a true gentleman.
D.J. Fontana with Garry Tallent, June 1996
It wasn't that long ago that D.J. wasn't in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Scotty Moore was, in the Sidemen category , but D.J. was not. So I talked to Ringo, Charlie Watts, and Levon Helm — they were already in the Hall of Fame — and I said, "How about if I write a letter, and you'll all sign it? My signature might not mean much, but you all, as Hall of Fame members...." All three of them had a lot of weight. So I wrote this letter, and we all signed it. And I got a form letter back. "Gentlemen: We thank you for your interest in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At this time, we have no plans to continue the Sidemen category...." It was a form letter.
But everyone I ever talked to about it thought the same thing: D.J. should be in! Even if he'd only played on "Jailhouse Rock," he should be in. Long story short, we finally got him in, in 2009. D.J. was still healthy — quite vigorous, actually — and it was the greatest honor to be asked to induct him. I really labored over the induction speech. And the first minute-and-a-half of the induction speech was just a list of the songs he played on.
Garry inducted Bill Black that night; he wasn't in either. One of best parts of the night was as the crowd was mingling before the event, we were standing near the stage, away from everyone else — D.J. Fontana, Scotty Moore, Garry, me. And suddenly, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck come running over to Scotty Moore and genuflect. I mean, like 12-year-olds. I don't know if they'd ever met him. It was so cool to see Jimmy Page, with all that guy has done, and Jeff Beck, too, suddenly become 12 years old again and listening to Elvis Presley. And of course Scotty was a gentleman, too. They were gentlemen.
D.J. had a bit of multiple sclerosis, which would come and go kind of like shingles. But about a year ago, he got laid up — he was in bed. He never got out. I was playing Nashville, and I called Karen, his wife, and we had a friend on our crew pick him up — and this guy's big and strong, so I mean literally pick him up. He had a big truck, so we went over to D.J.'s house and picked him up out of bed, put him in the truck, and they both came to the whole show. D.J. hadn't been out of the house in a year. I made a very impromptu speech about him, and he got a huge standing ovation from the crowd. We played "Jailhouse Rock" in his honor — Garry was there too, and he came up and played bass. But D.J. was not doing well. He was 87 years old, and still the sweetest guy, but it was not a fight he was going to win.
- D.J., Max, and Garry in Nashville, October 2017 - photograph by Michael Bodayle
He had a wonderful life, and a wonderful wife in Karen. And he had a card: "D.J. Fontana, Hall of Famer." It took years to get him in, but to have him recognized... that was certainly one of the highlights of my personal and professional life, to be up there for the guy who made me want to be a drummer when I didn't even know what it meant. He moved me. He transmitted that thing to me, and it stuck. So here we are 62 years later, and I'm proud and privileged to call him my good friend. And I miss him. - June 22, 2018 - Max Weinberg, as told to Christopher Phillips
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE GREAT NILS LOFGREN
Wishing Nils a happy 67 today! For tour dates, digital downloads, notes from Nils and more, visit nilslofgren.com. - June 21, 2018 - photograph by John Cavanaugh
NOW TOM SAID
On Broadway, off-script: Springsteen addresses border and migrant crisis Springsteen on Broadway hadn't yet gotten either topical or explicit about the national climate, but that changed on Tuesday night. Near the end of the performance, Springsteen weighed in on the border situation, where migrant children are being separated from parents, calling it "disgracefully inhumane and un-American."
Until that moment, Springsteen had used his Broadway stage largely as a vehicle for a personal narrative, using original songs to tell a story. He'd hinted at his feelings on the post-January 20, 2017 state of affairs — for longtime fans and observers, no stretch there — by invoking Dr. King, reminding patrons that the "arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice."
He referenced that quote again last night, this time adding: "I've also lived long enough to know that arc doesn't bend on its own. It needs all of us leaning on it, nudging it in the right direction day after day. You gotta keep leaning."
Leaning into it himself, Springsteen made his feelings on the events of the day perfectly clear: "We have heard people in high position in the American government blaspheme in the name of God and country that it is a moral thing to assault the children amongst us. May God save our souls."
After "146 nights with basically the same setlist," Springsteen further made plain where he stands with an off-the-script version of "The Ghost of Tom Joad."
Springsteen's complete remarks:
I never believed that people come to my shows, or rock shows to be told anything.
But I do believe that they come to be reminded of things. To be reminded of who they are, at their most joyous, at their deepest, when life feels full. It's a good place to get in touch with your heart and your spirit, to be amongst the crowd. And to be reminded of who we are and who we can be collectively. Music does those things pretty well sometimes, particularly these days when some reminding of who we are and who we can be isn't such a bad thing.
That weekend of the March for our Lives, we saw those young people in Washington, and citizens all around the world, remind us of what faith in America and real faith in American democracy looks and feels like. It was just encouraging to see all those people out on the street and all that righteous passion in the service of something good. And to see that passion was alive and well and still there at the center of the beating heart of our country.
It was a good day, and a necessary day because we are seeing things right now on our American borders that are so shockingly and disgracefully inhumane and un-American that it is simply enraging. And we have heard people in high position in the American government blaspheme in the name of God and country that it is a moral thing to assault the children amongst us. May God save our souls.
There's the beautiful quote by Dr. King that says the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. Now, there have been many, many days of recent when you could certainly have an argument over that. But I've lived long enough to see that in action and to put some faith in it. But I've also lived long enough to know that arc doesn't bend on its own. It needs all of us leaning on it, nudging it in the right direction day after day. You gotta keep, keep leaning.
I think it's important to believe in those words, and to carry yourself, and to act accordingly. It's the only way that we keep faith and keep our sanity.
I've played this show 146 nights with basically the same setlist, but tonight calls for something different...
Men walkin' 'long the railroad tracks
Goin' someplace there's no goin' back
Highway patrol choppers comin' up over the ridge
Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge
Shelter line stretchin' round the corner
Welcome to the new world order
Families sleepin' in their cars in the southwest
No home no job no peace no rest
The highway is alive tonight
But nobody's kiddin' nobody about where it goes
I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
Searchin' for the ghost of Tom Joad
He pulls prayer book out of his sleeping bag
Preacher lights up a butt and takes a drag
Waitin' for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last
In a cardboard box 'neath the underpass
Got a one-way ticket to the promised land
You got a hole in your belly and gun in your hand
Sleeping on a pillow of solid rock
Bathin' in the city aqueduct
The highway is alive tonight
But where it's headed everybody knows
I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
Waitin' on the ghost of Tom Joad
Now Tom said
"Mom, wherever there's a cop beatin' a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there's a fight 'gainst the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me Mom I'll be there
Wherever there's somebody fightin' for a place to stand
Or decent job or a helpin' hand
Wherever somebody's strugglin' to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you'll see me."
The highway is alive tonight
But where it's headed everybody knows
I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
With the ghost of old Tom Joad
The highway is alive tonight
But nobody's kiddin' nobody about where it goes
I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
Searchin' for the ghost of Tom Joad
- June 20, 2018 - photograph by Rob DeMartin
ROCKIN' PNEUMONIA AND BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN TOO
Bruce plays four at tonight's Asbury Lanes grand reopening
There was an air of excitement on Fourth Avenue in Asbury Park tonight, as the grand re-opening of Asbury Lanes drew curious music fans from around the area to check out the remodel of the bowling alley-turned-music venue that had for years been both clubhouse for local punk rock kids and showcase for up-and-coming bands from the tri-state area and beyond. The club's small stage, perched at the center of a row of active bowling lanes, had seen artists from surf-rocker Dick Dale to punk bands like The Menzingers, The Butthole Surfers, and Asbury Park's Bouncing Souls in its 15-year history. The venue closed for remodeling in 2015.
The excitement was no doubt for the event's star attraction, an announced guest shot by Bruce Springsteen, who was to sit in with his friend and collaborator Danny Clinch's Tangiers Blues Band. The band was introduced by Jay Sugarman, CEO of Asbury Park master developer iStar (co-owners of the venue), who thanked everyone for sticking by them during the city's redevelopment. He also thanked Bruce for his devotion to the city. For over 40 years, Sugarman said, Bruce was "keeping Asbury Park alive."
Sugarman was followed by a brief intro from the man himself, who commented on the changes the city has undergone, seeming more than a little wistful about the old days. "I feel like the Ghost of Christmas Past walking down the boardwalk," Springsteen said before introducing Clinch & Co, "but that's okay, because it's fun to watch Asbury's future unfold in front of me." Bruce watched from backstage as the Tangiers Blues Band, who have become a fixture at Light of Day events, got the crowd going with offbeat covers like "Life During Wartime" and the Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)."
But folks were there to see Bruce, and he obliged by joining to band for a four-song set, the highlight of which was the opener, a cover of Huey "Piano" Smith's 1957 chestnut, "Rockin' Pneumonia & the Boogie Woogie Flu." [VIDEO] Dressed in jeans and work boots, Springsteen looked tan and happy as he walked onstage, trademark Fender in hand.
Next up was Willie Dixon's slow burning "I Just Want to Make Love to You" [VIDEO], which was punctuated by one of several steamy Springsteen guitar solos. He was definitely in bandleader mode, calling out solos and chord changes and generally keeping Clinch's band on their toes. For his part, the latter occasionally stepped back and shot photos mid-song (as he often does during Light of Day performances).
"Down the Road Apiece" [VIDEO], dedicated by Bruce to the "folks from the old Asbury Lanes who kept this place going," became a call-and-response, as he coaxed the audience into it by waving and shouting "down the road!" They finally picked up on it and repeated the phrase, prompting Bruce to yell back, "Yeah, keep driving. Coming down Ocean Avenue, now…"
That was clearly the end of the rehearsed material, as Bruce pushed back the music stand (no teleprompter tonight!) and called a quick huddle at center stage. What else could close a club jam but "Twist & Shout"? [VIDEO] Towards the end he cajoled the crowd to raise hands in the air, keeping the onstage energy up throughout the set with his usual flair. It was a brief but enjoyable appearance that opened the evening in fine fashion, and local fans can only hope it's not the only guest jam for Bruce this summer. - June 18, 2018 - Lisa Iannucci reporting - photographs courtesy of Kevin Mazur/Getty Images - pro-shot event video courtesy of Asbury Lanes/TourGigs - special thanks to Rich Russo for the linked video clips
photograph by Eric Meola
CLARENCE CLEMONS WALKS INTO A BAR
By Don Reo
Clarence Clemons walks into a bar and everything stops.
It happened every time he walked into any room with people in it.
Anywhere in the world.
Every single time.
The men stared and felt smaller.
The women touched their hair and began to fidget with their jewelry.
Twisting their rings.
Brushing their necklaces with fingertips.
Clarence came in like a storm. Menacing and dark and dangerous.
Then he'd smile and sunshine pierced the clouds.
He made you think of possibilities missed.
Roads not taken.
You wanted to go where he was going cause where he was going was going to be good.
Good like this room felt when he came in.
When he was in the room you knew it was the place to be.
You felt lucky.
When he left it felt like something had died.
He changed the story.
Clarence walked all swagger and attitude and presence.
He was never overlooked.
He always walked in the present tense.
He was right here, right now.
He walked with joy and with pain.
He walked with sticks.
He'd lean forward, into the wind.
To many he was more of a thing than a person.
Like a statue or a monument.
Something you stared at in wonder.
Something you observed from a distance.
Something you would travel to see.
You might not bring the children.
Sometimes he could fly.
He'd become untethered and drift above the ground like a giant balloon on Thanksgiving let loose and floating out over America.
He'd laugh that big booming laugh and he'd tell filthy jokes and praise Jesus and drink tequila and wine and beer and smoke a joint and drop some kind of elephant tranquilizer and get heavy lidded and amused at things only he could see.
Clarence picked up the saxophone and touched it like a lover.
It was a sexual act.
He caressed and teased it with his fingers and his mouth. He made it moan low, gently coaxing it to respond in a breathy whisper like the sound of caramel and butterscotch.
He made it scream.
The brass melted into his body and the keys opened like flowers to the heat and created the languid, primal melody of ecstasy.
The intimate, ancient ritual of two becoming one and creating something beyond themselves.
Clarence contained multitudes.
He was a syncopated giant, riffing and drifting on that cloud of feeling and memory and unstuck in time like Billy Pilgrim and Benny Profane.
He didn't need reservations.
Occasionally he wore a cape.
Nobody made fun of his cape.
He consumed life.
He was bigger than Manhattan.
He'd steal your heart.
He'd close his eyes and whisper something like:
"Sha la la,
You're my shining star
At the dark end of the street.
The screen door slams.
The kind I'd like to meet.
Don't worry baby, I'm alright.
Whatever gets you through the night."
He was Elvis singing "Don't be cruel" on a car radio one summer night south of Palm Beach with the top down and heat lightning burning the sky.
He had a jukebox mind filled with words and music.
"When we danced, the night was filled with pleasure,"
"We're waltzing through this wonderland together,"
"I'm with you body and soul,"
"Do you remember all the guys who gave us rock and roll?"
Clarence Clemons stands under a streetlight in the rain.
It's late and all hope has been put away for the night.
He plays "The Touch," the Viscounts version of the French gangster movie theme. He plays it for Harry and Trane and Stan and King and Jerry and Illinois.
He plays for the lonely on a saxophone called Candy.
A car drives by, tires hissing across the wet street.
A face looks out from the back seat,
The car slides by, filled with doubt. Should I have accepted his invitation?
A light goes out in a window across the way.
A siren wails in the distance.
There's the echo of empty rooms.
Clarence finishes, the last note quavers, hangs in space then fades and the air goes back to nothingness.
It holds no beauty, no art.
It's just air.
Clarence puts the horn in its case and walks down the street as the wind begins to howl.
He walks through the world.
He walks down your street.
One hand waving free.
He's walking through Miami and Makawao and San Sebastián and Rome and Hong Kong.
He's walking to New Orleans.
He's sipping a Cuban Breeze on a yacht in Key Biscayne.
He's like smoke, like wonder.
And tonight, right now, there's this wind and rain,
and he's walking through it.
Head down but leaning forward.
Always leaning forward.
Then there's the music.
Yeah, that's it.
That's the sound.
It's in sync with his heartbeat and the blood running through his veins.
He's heard it in his head for a thousand years.
It's the Swan Silvertones and the Zion Travelers and Dion and it's playing "White Port and Lemon Juice" and it's Red Prysock hand clappin and you can hear the ghost of Gene Krupa and Chet Baker in 1964 on the ferry to Newport with just his horn in a case wearing a white shirt and a dark blue blazer.
Just beyond the darkest hour.
It's his siren song.
Could this be magic?
He moves toward it inevitably.
It has to be like this.
It's always been like this.
More a memory than a dream,
He's been here many, many times before.
He opens the door and the wind blows it away.
Clarence Clemons walks into a bar and everything starts.
- June 18, 2018 - Don Reo is the co-author of Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales; his epilogue, "The Big Man: The Final Chapter," appeared in Backstreets #91
THAT'S HOW I SEE YOU
We don't generally cover the non-musical doings of the Springsteen family... but when it's Father's Day sometimes you look the other way. Jessica Springsteen describes "What It's Like Having Bruce Springsteen As My Dad" to Women's Health, focusing on her father's support of her love of horseback riding and the impact that had on her decision to become a professional equestrian:
...my dad always reminded me that it's so rare in life to find something you're so passionate about, that brings you so much joy. And when you find that, you have to really respect it and pursue it. My dad has worked so hard and is very passionate about his work. Even when he has time off, he's thinking about the next project that he might be excited to do.... I was always in love with riding — and now I do it full time. Thanks to my dad, I'll never take that for granted.
Happy Father's Day 2018 to all you cool rockin' daddies out there! - June 17, 2018
NEXT WEEKEND: 5th ANNUAL ROCKLAND-BERGEN MUSIC FESTIVAL
Joe D'Urso's summer fest to host Southside, Grushecky, and
Joe D'Urso's annual Rockland-Bergen Music Festival keeps getting bigger and better every year. Next weekend the fest returns to Tappan, NY for its 5th Annual, with musical acts including Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, Joe Grushecky, Steve Forbert, Jeffrey Gaines, Joe D'Urso & Stone Caravan, Jim Boggia's "Bruce Off Broadway," Joe Delia & The Thieves, Anthony D’Amato and more. Two stages, 16 artists, and 15 non-profit organizations help realize D'Urso's vision of a musical event that combines great music and important causes.
D'Urso says, "As we head into our fifth year, we keep fine-tuning what we have been told is a very laid-back and enjoyable experience. The unique German Masonic Park lends itself to the stripped-down feeling of the whole weekend. This is a professional production, while at the same time feeling like an extended family BBQ with lots of great musicians, some who happen to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Grammy award winners."
Non-profts on site will include the Light of Day Foundation, WhyHunger, and Habitat for Humanity. "I come from a Harry Chapin/Pete Seeger school of thinking," says D'Urso, "and I trily believe we all live better, fuller lives when involved with organizations and people who have live hearts and live minds."
Tickets for the Saturday, June 23 festival at the German Masonic Fairgrounds are available through Ticketfly. Visit rocklandmusicfestival.com for more information and tickets for other weekend events, including the festival kickoff Friday night at The Turning Point in Piermont. - June 16, 2018
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. ROCK AND ROLL FUTURE. THE BOOK. KICKSTART IT!
This morning, Backstreets has launched our first-ever Kickstarter project, to publish a book of photography by Barry Schneier that tells the story of one night in rock 'n' roll history: May 9, 1974, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Harvard Square Theatre.
You're probably already familiar with Barry's work, given that his photographs are the only visual record of the night Jon Landau
famously saw "rock and roll future"; we've shared some of his images here before. But for decades, no one was familiar with it: Barry's negatives sat in a box after he hung up his professional photography shoes in the '70s. So I vividly remember the first time I saw "For You" — his capture of Springsteen at the piano that night in '74 — when it won the Boston Globe's "Your Best Shot" contest in 2010. I couldn't believe pictures from that night existed. We were talking by the end of the day.
In the years since then, Barry and I have gotten to know each other as he's rediscovered his love of photography (he's been on assignment for Backstreets, too, photographing recent Springsteen shows for us, too). But when we've talked, we'd keep returning to 5/9/74: the unseen photos, the negatives unscanned, his memories of the night (which are more vivid than most peoples' of events 44 years in the past). Besides the night's historical nature, it's also a rare glimpse of the 1974 E Street Band, with both David Sancious and Boom Carter in the band, during both soundcheck and performance.
So after talking for a while about what a great book this would make... we finally decided to try and make it.
This wouldn't be the first book from Backstreets Publishing — longtime readers may remember our 50 Tips to Great Springsteen Tickets booklet from the '80s, or the three volumes of our You Better Not Touch guides, back when bootleg CDs were still a hot commodity. But if the crowdfunding is successful, it would be our first book of this quality: case-bound hardcover, offset printing, 105lb matte interior, color and B&W images... a handsome book of photography.
As with everything Backstreets does, this is by fans, for fans, which is why we wanted to try crowdfunding with Kickstarter. Much of the work is done already — Barry's been working wicked hard up in Boston for months, getting his recollections down on paper, combing through contact sheets, and working with a designer to figure out the best presentation for the text and images. High quality scanning awaits, as does the actual printing, of course. But if we can meet our crowdfunding goal, Barry's story of this legendary night is primed to be a beautfiul coffee table book — with some extra rewards for backers, including the book discounted for early supporters, signed copies, and multiple photographic prints that have never been offered in galleries.
Find out more on the project's Kickstarter page, and if you like the idea too, we hope you'll help us make it real. - June 12, 2018 - Christopher Phillips reporting
R.I.P. BUTCH PIELKA, ORIGINAL STONE PONY PROPRIETOR
Longtime Stone Pony owner Robert "Butch" Pielka, who had suffered from undisclosed health issues in recent years, passed away on June 8. He was 72.
Journalist Jean Mikle, who spent many nights in the Pony during its heydey, told Backstreets that "it became the neighborhood bar for the Asbury Park music scene" under the management of Pielka and business partner/co-owner John "Jack" Roig.
"At a time when Asbury Park was starting its long downhill slide, the Pony was a stalwart supporter of live music," Mikle continued, "whether it be local, regional or national acts. Musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, and music fans felt comfortable there. Any night you went by the Pony, you knew the music would be good."
Pielka was an avid supporter of the Jersey Shore music scene who, along with Roig, transformed the Stone Pony from a modest Asbury Park club that hosted disco nights and employed local cover bands to an internationally famous music venue. The pair opened the Pony in early 1974 in the building that had formerly housed Mrs. Jay's Restaurant and Beer Garden (the latter establishment moved next door, where it gained notoriety as a biker bar).
The Stone Pony first gained attention when Pielka booked the Blackberry Booze Band in 1975; the legendary jam band, which often featured Southside Johnny and Steven Van Zandt, eventually morphed into the Asbury Jukes, becoming the official house band in the mid-70s. Bruce Springsteen often sat in with the band, and Asbury Park, long a Jersey Shore music mecca, soon became an international focal point. Fans came from near and far to check out both the town and the bar that, in addition to Springsteen and the Jukes, had given rise to notables like The Shakes; Cahoots; Cold, Blast & Steel; The Diamonds; and La Bamba & the Hubcaps. The Stone Pony served as a home base and hangout spot not just for Bruce himself, but for Shore-based cover bands with whom he often jammed like Cats on a Smooth Surface.
During Pielka's era, from 1974 through the late '80s, the Pony famously hosted a wide variety of musical talent from The Ramones, Lone Justice and Elvis Costello to homegrown New Jersey favorites John Eddie and The Smithereens. Through it all, Pielka himself maintained a low profile, often lurking at the back bar as the mayhem of a mid-summer Springsteen guest shot reigned onstage.
Indeed, the Stone Pony was a neighborhood bar that, under Butch and Jack's watch, kept its local flavor despite its fame. While their club still stands at the corner of Second and Ocean and continues to host nights of great music (Max Weinberg's Jukebox, Southside Johnny and the Jukes, and Jake Clemons will all take the Pony stage this summer), the sale of the club to local businessman Steve Nasar in 1991 was truly the end of an era. Rest in peace, Butch. - June 12, 2018 - Lisa Iannucci reporting
SOMEHOW YOU SURVIVE
Make sure the next issue of Backstreets knows where to find you!
As we near 40 years of Backstreets, we're pleased to confirm that, despite our ever-increasing focus on digital delivery of Boss news and features,
the print edition continues. At long last, issue #92 of Backstreets magazine will be completed, printed, and mailed this summer to subscribers (with single copies in the shop, once in stock).
In preparation, especially given how much has transpired in all our lives since the last issue, we want to make sure we have correct addresses for all subscribers. If you've moved, please be sure to let us know your change of address, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org (old and new addresses, please). We'll have further updates as we go to press, but this is a good time to start the process of making sure our subscriber database is up to date.
As ever, we thank you for your patience between printed issues, and hope our online updates — including longreads like the new Chris Murray interview, or last week's Darkness 40 celebration, in case you missed it — scratch the Backstreets itch in the meantime. We appreciate your readership and support! - June 12, 2018
WILD AND INNOCENT: GAHR X SPRINGSTEEN, 1973 - 1986
Limited edition print of a W&I outtake, exclusively from Backstreets
This spring, Rizzoli published the first book of the late David Gahr's photography in 50 years, since 1968's seminal The Face of Folk. The new collection, edited by Govinda Gallery's Chris Murray, is all Bruce.
We're thrilled to offer something very rare to go along with the book: a limited edition, original David Gahr print that won't break the bank. Through galleries, a Gahr print starts in the four figures, at sizes of 11x14 or greater. In collaboration with The Estate of David Gahr and Govinda Gallery, Backstreet Records is able to make available a Gahr 8x10, in an edition of 300.
A beautiful B&W print from the original negative on fine art paper, it's perfect for matting and framing — and it's available exclusively through Backstreet Records as part of a $350 Book and Print Set. The hardcover includes a bookplate signed by Chris Murray; the print has the Estate of David Gahr stamp on reverse, editioned and signed in pencil by Murray, who is also the representative of the estate. For more information, and to order, see the set in our online shop.
Backstreets editor Chris Phillips recently spoke with Chris Murray at length about his work on the book, sifting through 7,000 of Gahr's Springsteen images on contact sheets and slides to find the gems. Read on....
"THANKS FOR MAKING ME FEEL SO WELCOME ON YOUR BLOCK"
Tonight at the 72nd Annual Tony Awards, Bruce Springsteen was honored with a statue for his work on the Great White Way, presented to him by previous Tony winner Billy Joel:
I am honored to be back at the Tonys to present a Special Award to a fellow musician, an old friend, whose intimate show is Springsteen on Brodaway. It's all about the man and his music, not to mention the heartfelt stories behind 40 years of incredible songs. This extraordinary event began as an eight-week limited run but by the time it wraps up in December will have played 246 performances. The Boss is working hard! So for bringing hundreds of thousands of new theatergoers to Broadway, it's my pleasure to present the Special Tony Award to Bruce Springsteen.
Springsteen, who attended the Radio City Music Hall ceremony with his wife and Broadway co-star Patti Scialfa as well as their three children, took the stage to a standing ovation (and a little Brooocing, too). He gave Joel a hug before addressing the crowd:
Thank you. This is deeply appreciated, thanks for making me feel so welcome
on your block. Being a part of the Broadway community has been a great thrill and an honor for me — it's been one of the most exciting things that I've ever experienced. I've got to thank Patti Scialfa, my beautiful wife and artistic partner, for her love and inspiration every night. I've got to thank Jon Landau, George Travis, Barbara Carr, and Jordan Roth for the great work of getting our show on stage. And last but not least, our wonderful audiences, who've made these shows so exciting and fulfilling. Evan, Jess, and Sam — Daddy loves you. You've been wonderful to me this season, thank you so much. God bless all.
Toward the end of the ceremony, the Boss was back to perform, brought on by none other than Robert De Niro. Though his initial impromptu remarks were bleeped on CBS, De Niro's scripted introduction was fully audible:
Do you have any idea how hard it is to get tickets for Bruce Springsteen's show on Broadway? It's easier to get tickets for Hamilton, and that's got a much bigger cast, actual dancing, and a history lesson. So when I got the call asking if I wanted to see Bruce perform, I said yes, without asking any questions. Bruce: You can rock the house like nobody else, and even more important, in these perilous times, you rock the vote — always fighting for, in your words, truth, transparency, and integrity in government, Boy, do we need that now. So congratulations on your Tony for Springsteen on Broadway, or as I like to call it, Jersey Boy. Ladies and gentlemen, my friend, Bruce Springsteen.
Taking a seat at the grand piano center stage, Springsteen began, "I grew up on Randolph Street..." telling the story of his family's life "in the shadow of the steeple" before performing an abbreviated "My Hometown."
- Updated with video June 11, 2018 - photo courtesy of CBS
HOLLER IF YOU HEAR HIM Stewart Francke's family launches GoFundMe campaign
We were saddened to learn that our friend Stewart Francke has had to face yet another serious medical crisis, and his family has launched a GoFundMe page to help address their medical expenses. Please click here to learn more and support it in whatever way you can.
In 2011, Francke, a Michigan-based singer-songwriter, wrote and recorded "Summer Soldier (Holler If Ya Hear Me)" with Bruce Springsteen. (Springsteen already had gone on record as being a long-time Stewart Francke fan, noting back in 2006 that Francke "makes beautiful music.") Stewart generously allowed Backstreets readers to download "Summer Soldier (Holler If Ya Hear Me)" along with several other tracks, free of charge. (You still may click here to do so.)
SUMMER SCHOOL OF ROCK
Little Steven's Teacher Appreciation Tour goes to Europe
Calling all teachers! You're the special guests on the European leg of Little Steven's Soulfire 2018 Teacher Appreciation Tour. Each stop features a professional development workshop during which Steven and the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation team will present exciting arts integration possibilities of the TeachRock curriculum. Local educators who attend the free sessions will also receive two complimentary tickets for that evening's show.
The tour kicks off in Dublin on June 28,and continues through the UK, Germany, Netherlands, France, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Spain, and Belgium. For full tour dates, visit littlesteven.com.
To register for free teacher workshops and show tickets, visit teachrock.org/tour. (For more detailed workshop information, contact Christine@teachrock.org.)
- June 7, 2018
SPRINGSTEEN TO WELCOME BACK ASBURY LANES, JUNE 18 Asbury Lanes is back in business after a couple years of renovations, and when the vintage bowling alley/music venue celebrates its grand reopening in a couple weeks, there'll be no need to wonder "will he or won't he"... Bruce Springsteen's right there on the bill.
40 YEARS OF DARKNESS Darkness on the Edge of Town, Bruce Springsteen's fourth album and follow-up to Born to Run, was released on June 2, 1978. It remains a timeless, stone classic. Forty years later, we've asked artists, fans, and friends of Backstreets — writers, musicians, photographers, and more — to reflect on the Carter-era masterwork that feels just as relevant in 2018.
"Everyone takes different things from a record," singer/songwriter Pete Yorn told us during the course of our discussions. "If I analyze a record and what a song means to me, sometimes it's a universal thing that everyone sees in the song, but a lot of times it has something to do with what's gong on in your own life."
You'll find that's true in these reminiscensces and tributes to the power and promise of Darkness from Eric Alterman, Eric Bachmann, Tom Batiuk, Serge Bielanko, Chris Carrabba, Ken Casey, Danny Clinch, Cerphe Colwell, Tom Cunningham, Gerry Duggan, Patterson Hood, Dennis Lehane, Greg Linn, Nils Lofgren, Lisa Lowell, Eric Meola, Joyce Millman, Mike Ness, Lauren Onkey, Pat Riley, Luke Russert, Mike Scully, Pete Souza, Frank Stefanko, Soozie Tyrell, Michael Weiner, Dick Wingate, and Pete Yorn.
- June 2, 2018 - press release courtesy of Dick Wingate
For our Darkness on the Edge of Town 40th Anniversary celebration, coming tomorrow.
- June 1, 2018
FIRST FRIDAY PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
As we dive into the latest from Springsteen's live archive series (below), there's still an elelphant absent from the room: an official recording from the Rising tour. The 2002-2003 gap remains a source of frustration for many fans who can't understand why a single show from the Rising era has yet to emerge from the archives while other tours already have multiple titles (today's is the third from 2009). From what we've been able to piece together in recent weeks, from various sources, the omission is completely down to technical issues.
It seems all extant multi-track recordings of the Rising tour were made on an early, high-resolution DSD (Direct Stream Digital) system. Fifteen years on, there are major technical challenges in accessing the master recordings on the original platform. There is an ongoing effort to restore and extract the multi-track files, but to date, no complete show is available to mix for release. We hope those efforts are successful soon.
- June 1, 2018
TAKE ME TO THE RIVER, FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME
First Friday brings Madison Square Garden’s 2009 full-River debut
While Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band gave The River a nightly live workout in 2016, it wasn't long ago that even one such performance of the 1980 two-LP set seemed too much to hope for. On the 2009 Working on a Dream tour, they had three complete LP sequences in their concert rotation — Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, and Born in the U.S.A. — and around and around they went.
But in the trek's final month, Springsteen planned three special one-offs, nights when he and the band would tackle three more albums in order: Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ (Buffalo, 11/22/09, a previous archival release), The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle (NYC, 11/7/09, a glorious performance complete with string section debut), and, astoundingly, all four sides of The River (New York, 11/8/09). The last of these rolls our way today, the latest entry in the live archive series.
The buzz was off the charts at Madison Square Garden that night, and while the 20-song marathon may have been more proficiently performed in 2016, there's only one First Time. And proficiency ain't everything. The palpable excitement in the building, coupled with Springsteen's monumental energy — playing "as if his very life depended on it," Backstreets reported at the time — have kept this night from losing any luster in the wake of The River Tour Redux. In fact, 11/8/09 likely planted that seed: at the start of the Garden set, Springsteen pronounced the two-hour sequence "too long to do again." But once under his belt, the experience apparently proved too damn good not to do again.
Bruce and the band iced the cake with some terrific covers: "Seven Nights to Rock," "Sweet Soul Music," "Can't Help Falling in Love," and the perfect show-closer rediscovered late in the tour, Jackie Wilson's jubilant "Higher and Higher." But this night at the Garden will always be rightly remembered for the Main Event. It also bears mentioning, without detracting from Jake Clemons's MVP status in 2016, this is the only full River show featuring the album's original saxophone player. Do we have to say his name?
SPRINGSTEENON BROADWAY, FOR JUST A HAMILTON Double your entries with a special Backstreets link
A chance to win a big Springsteen on Broadway meet-and-greet package ends this week. For making a donation as little as $10 to the Kristen Ann Carr Fund, you can be entered to win:
Roundtrip airfare and NYC hotel accommodations for winner and guest
Two second Row tickets to Springsteen on Broadway for any Friday or Saturday evening performance
Meet & greet w/ Bruce backstage
To enter to win, donate $10 or more to support the KACF's vital work funding the fight against sarcoma. Donating more earns more chances to win, with some add-on merch as well (including a Springsteen-signed '52 Fender Telecaster Guitar, if you've got $75,000). The campaign ends Thursday afternoon.
Update: use the link prizeo.com/backstreets to get double the amount of entries with your donation! - May 29, 2018
D40: E STREET RADIO CELEBRATES 40 YEARS OF DARKNESS
All this week on E Street Radio (SiriusXM channel 20), tune in to hear
'78-centric programming to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Darkness on the Edge of Town. Classic concerts from the '78 tour will air all week, including the Roxy, Agora, Capitol Theater (all three nights), Fox Theater, Winterland, and Houston Music Hall shows; plus, Dave Marsh and Jim Rotolo go track-by-track through the Darkness album, Nick Masi hosts an all-Darkness "Cover Me," and more. Visit
the SiriusXM blog for the full line-up and broadcast schedule. - May 28, 2018
All of us here on E Street hope you get to spend this Memorial Day Weekend with friends and family! #SpringsteenBroadway
CLINCH OFFERS MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND FLASH SALE, 200 BONES APIECE
Danny Clinch continues to post some amazing images from Springsteen on Broadway... if you're following him on Instagram, you may have already seen the portrait above, captured backstage in the Walter Kerr Theatre dressing room. Even better, this and more of Danny's Springsteen images — including his October 2017 Variety cover shot, below — will be part of a flash print sale for Memorial Day Weekend, which means you can have a Clinch on your wall without breaking the bank.
The print sale, which starts tonight at 6pm Eastern, is "in honor of Bruce Springsteen's amazing run on Broadway... At the end of the sale a donation will be made to the Kristen Ann Carr Fund! Friday 5/25 at 6pm EST to Monday 5/28 6pm, I am going to offer all the images under #dcxspringsteen in archival 8x10 format signed by me in silver permanent pen for $200 plus shipping."
For further information as the sale goes live, follow dannybones64 on Instagram.
SPRINGSTEEN GOES SOLO (OR SOLO GONE SPRINGSTEEN?) Update: We posted this feature this morning for just a bit of Bruce-centric fun on the opening weekend of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Little did we know that father/son Solo screenwriters Lawrence and Jon Kasdan, in an interview published online today, would reveal a very real connection between Solo and Springsteen. Read the story at Uproxx.com.
Of course there's the classic Born to Kessel Run. We have no idea what other track titles might be listed on the back cover, but you've gotta think "Tenth Avenue Carbon-Freeze out" is on there. This inspired lunacy is the brainchild of London-based digital artist Steven Lear, who creates and posts this kind of stuff regularly at whythelongplayface.com, where you can find more of his clever meldings of classic album covers with pop-culture references (including a few more Springsteen/Star Wars mashups.)
To celebrate the opening, we're giving away our own Solo/Springsteen mashup: the "Johnny 99 Shot First" bumpersticker, connecting one of Nebraska's most memorable characters to the "Han shot first" controversy. We'll include one FREE with every order placed from now through the long Memorial Day weekend. No coupon code necessary, delivered to your door in less than 12 parsecs. - May 25, 2018 - Shawn Poole reporting
ON THE SCENE IN NEW ORLEANS
As part of the 300th Anniversary of New Orleans, the Times-Picayune has chronicled 300 key moments in the city's history, both online at nola.com and as part of an exhibit at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. One of those moments is Bruce Springsteen's 2006 Seeger Sessions appearance at Jazz Fest, recently issued as part of the Archive series (read our report from Alison Fensterstock here). There are not many non-New Orleanians included in this auspicious list, so quite an honor from a city where music is part of its DNA.
- May 23, 2018 - Caryn Rose reporting
KEEP THOSE RECORDS PLAYIN'
Thanks to everyone who pre-ordered the Album Collection Vol 2 vinyl box from us — all pre-orders have been shipped, so yours is on its way if it hasn't been delivered already.
If you've got an active turntable and haven't purchased this new limited edition set of remasters, we do still have the box set in stock, still on sale, with the exclusive coaster pack that we created as a bonus to go with it. Take a look inside with our unboxing video, and order here.
- May 22, 2018
SPRINGSTEEN'S SPARE PARTS STOCKPILE GETS MAY 18 DIGITAL RELEASE
While tomorrow's Album Collection Vol 2 gathers all of Bruce Springsteen's LPs and two crucial EPs from the 1987-1996 era, it's not everything. Considering CD singles and their B-sides from the U.S. and around the world, there are a number of other tracks that needed to be taken into account.
Enter Spare Parts: The 9 EP Digital Collection, also available Friday, May 18. The digital-only release gathers officially released B-sides and live tracks from the Album Collection Vol 2 period and beyond, recordings that had not been previously available online (or collected on either Tracks or Essential).
These nine EPs will be available from Digital Service Providers for the first time, making their streaming debut, and collected as a "Spare Parts" playlist on Spotify as a companion piece to the box set.
DSP debuts are in bold below.
1. "For You" (live) - Roxy 7/7/78
2. "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" (live) - Roxy 1978
3. "Fire" (live) - Winterland 1978
4. Incident on 57th Street (live) - Uniondale 12/29/80
1. "Roll of the Dice" (Album Version)
2. "Leap of Faith" (live) - Meadowlands 8/6/92
3. "30 Days Out" - Human Touch outtake
1. "Hungry Heart" (Berlin ’95 Version)
2. "Streets of Philadelphia" (live with the E Street Band) - Sony Studios 4/4/95
3. "Murder Incorporated" (live with the E Street Band) - Sony Studios 4/4/95
4. "Thunder Road" (live with the E Street Band) - Sony Studios 4/4/95
1. "The Ghost of Tom Joad" (Album Version)
2. "Straight Time" (acoustic live) - Philadelphia, December 1995
3. "Sinaloa Cowboys" (acoustic live) - Philadelphia, December 1995
1. "Missing" (Album Version)
2. "Darkness on the Edge of Town" (acoustic live) - Berlin, 4/19/96
3. "Born in the U.S.A." (acoustic live) - Berlin, 4/19/96
GOIN' CALI: '90S BRUCE IN DAVID ROSE'S L.A. GALLERY EXHIBITION
Opening at the Mr. Musichead Gallery in Los Angeles later this week is a world premiere exhibition of photographs by David Rose, called "Intimate Portraits: Unseen Springsteen." Rose worked with Bruce Springsteen during his early '90s L.A. period, and his images will be familiar to fans from the '92-93 era as well as the 1995 E Street Band reunion. On display from May 17 to June 2, the showing of Rose's work will include rarer glimpses as well, with more than 30 David Rose photographs on display. Two events, on Thursday and Friday, kick off the exhibition.
Given Rose's work on the covers of Human Touch, Lucky Town, and Blood Brothers — all represented in the new
Album Collection Vol 2: 1987-1996 — Friday's event at the gallery is a Record Release Reception for the box set, in conjunction with Sony Legacy. RSVP here to attend this free event.
Mr. Musichead Gallery is located at 7420 W. Sunset Blvd., in the landmark Valdez Guitar Factory building across the street from Guitar Center. If you can't make it in person, view more of Rose's work and purchase prints at mrmusichead.com. - May 16, 2018
UNBOXING THE SECOND WAVE OF REMASTERS
A look inside the forthcoming box of remastered vinyl LPs, as we tear off the shrinkwrap and pop the top for the first time. The official release is this Friday... and it's not too late to pre-order from Backstreet Records to get our sale price ($30 off list) plus an exclusive bonus, with thanks for supporting what we do!
The bonus gift from us is this new set of four beverage coasters, as we once again teamed up with photographer Mark Krajnak for another four views from the Jersey Shore. Free with The Album Collection Vol 2: 1987-1996, only from Backstreets. - May 14, 2018
I HAVE FALLEN IN THE FOREST, DID YOU HEAR ME?
The death of Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchison still has us feeling heartbroken, as one of our favorite bands and favorite singer/songwriters to emerge in the last 20 years. After spending much of the weekend revisiting Scott's music, here's a moment well worth sharing on Backstreets:
You can also hear Frightened Rabbit covering "Streets of Philadelphia" on SiriusXM via YouTube.
But their own music is the best way to experience Scott's talents, his sharp-witted, heart-on-his-sleeve songwriting and plaintive vocals. For one of the best break-up records there is, try The Midnight Organ Fight, and chase it with the follow-up, The Winter of Mixed Drinks.
We always thought "The Loneliness and the Scream," from the latter, would be perfect for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Today it's a difficult if cathartic listen.
Scott was only 36. Like Springsteen, he's an artist whose work we'd looked forward to following for decades. Also like Springsteen, Scott wrestled with depression. Tragically, those two things can't necessarily co-exist. A statement from his family reads in part:
Depression is a horrendous illness that does not give you any alert or indication as to when it will take hold of you. Scott battled bravely with his own issues for many years and we are immensely proud of him for being so open with his struggles. His willingness to discuss these matters in the public domain undoubtedly raised awareness of mental health issues and gave others confidence and belief to discuss their own issues.
We're raising an old fashioned to Scott, and our hearts go out to his family and bandmates, who write,
There are no words to describe the overwhelming sadness and pain that comes with the death of our beloved Scott but to know he is no longer suffering brings us some comfort. Reading messages of support and hope from those he has helped through his art has helped immensely and we encourage you to continue doing this. He will be missed by all of us and his absence will always be felt but he leaves a legacy of hope, kindness and colour that will forever be remembered and shared. Rest peacefully Scott.
- May 14, 2018
PRE-ORDER ALBUM COLLECTION VOL 2 NOW, DUE NEXT FRIDAY
Get our pre-order sale price and an exclusive Backstreets bonus
Dropping one week from today is Bruce Springsteen's The Album Collection Vol 2, 1987-1996, and we're still taking pre-orders for the numbered and limited edition boxed set. Unlike Vol 1, the second box in the series is being released on vinyl only in the U.S., including the first-ever pressing of the Blood Brothers EP on wax, exclusive to the box. Pre-ordering from Backstreet Records now will save you $30 off the list price, and you'll also get an exclusive gift from us.
FREE coaster set, Vol 2: Yep, we're expanding the set! If you ordered The Album Collection Vol 1 from us, we included an exclusive bonus set of four scenic Asbury Park coasters. For Vol 2, we've again teamed up with photographer Mark Krajnak for another four designs — Volume 2 of our coaster pack, with four more scenes from the Jersey Shore.
As pictured above, images include the Casino on the Asbury Park boardwalk (where Springsteen filmed the 'Tunnel of Love' video), the Paramount Theatre (host to three landmark shows on the 1996 Tom Joad tour), and of course, a crossroads for the E Street Band. The new coaster set is yours FREE when you pre-order The Album Collection Vol 2, 1987-1996, only from Backstreet Records.
For those interested in compact discs, it looks like Sony Japan is keeping the CD alive for Vol 2, a seven-disc set with an expected release date of June 27. If we can import some of these ourselves for Backstreet Records, of course we'll spread the word. In the meantime, if you've got 13500 yen lying around... or a credit card, naturally... try cdjapan.co.jp for pre-ordering. - May 11, 2018
NO CHILD LEFT UNROCKED Little Steven's newly launched Teacher Appreciation Tourprovides support to teachers and students in the U.S. and abroad
Last week, as communities across the U.S. prepared to celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week, Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul launched their Teacher Appreciation Tour in New Brunswick, NJ. This unique, groundbreaking tour offers direct support to educators and students in every location where the band performs, including the European cities on the tour's upcoming itinerary for June and July.
"[Little Steven's] TeachRock program brings an essential curriculum of music and culture into school and makes it available at no cost to educators. In a time of cutbacks in arts funding, Steve's programs are keeping kids engaged in the arts, and in school — this is his greatest legacy." — Bruce Springsteen inducting Steve Van Zandt into the NJ Hall of Fame, May 6, 2018
In each town before each show, teachers can register for and attend a special free workshop where they'll learn how to use TeachRock.org with their students. The TeachRock.org website, initiated and designed by Steve Van Zandt with input from educational experts and others involved with Van Zandt's Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, offers teachers hundreds of free lesson plans (designed for grades 4-12,) audio/video clips and other resources. The plans and resources link rock, pop, soul and hip-hop music to common school subjects including Art, English, History, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.
Each teacher who attends a workshop also receives a very special "stipend" for their time: two free tickets to that evening's Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul concert (one for the teacher and one for a friend or family member, who does not have to be a teacher). In addition, teachers receive a certification of their attendance and, depending on their school district's policies, can receive professional-development and/or continuing-education credit. Stevie himself has been known to drop by these workshops on occasion, as he did in New Brunswick [photo at top]. He even brought his beloved dog Edie with him, explaining to the teachers, "It was my turn to babysit."
Not surprisingly, Steve and his band have continued to deliver excellent performances on this special tour, which simultaneously constitutes a new leg of their ongoing Soulfire tour. These shows also have been tweaked somewhat with an increased emphasis on musical history and education. (Two prime examples from the New Brunswick night: opening with a stellar cover of the Arthur Conley/Otis Redding classic "Sweet Soul Music," which namechecks many of soul music's greats, and Steve's introduction to his own song "Some Things Just Don't Change," where he spoke extensively about the musical importance of Detroit and revealed that he originally wrote "Some Things Just Don't Change" hoping that The Temptations' David Ruffin would record it.) It's far from a boring lecture-hall gig, though, instead continuing to offer a fun, inspiring evening of beautifully performed big-band rock and soul.
Though it's called the Teacher Appreciation Tour, at the initial pre-show workshop it was the teachers themselves who movingly expressed their heartfelt appreciation to Steve Van Zandt and his colleagues for implementing such a great idea. In a recent Sirius/XM "Town Hall" conversation hosted by Dave Marsh and centered around the Teacher Appreciation Tour, Van Zandt summed up the motivation behind the Tour: "We just want to show respect to the teaching profession. You see these teachers who are making, y'know, $40,000 or $35,000 a year buying pencils for the kids while we give another $40 million to the military. I'm sorry; something's wrong here, y'know? I mean really, it's just despicable what's going on. So anyway, we're doing whatever small thing we can do just to show respect and give teachers a couple of hours of 'escape' from the difficulties of this world... just enjoy some music for two hours and then go back to the real world."
Thanks to the pre-concert workshops, however, educators also will re-enter the real world re-energized, re-inspired and equipped with some new tools to help them better reach their students. In a post-workshop e-mail message sent to all participants, Steven writes from personal experience about the impact that programs like TeachRock.org can have on students: "I was that hard-to-reach kid... When I found Rock and Roll, everything changed. I woke up — emotionally, intellectually, and socially... Music will forever be humanity's most effective and consistent source of inspiration and motivation, and, as we have learned, music turns out to be a solid common ground for establishing communication between teachers and students. And connection is where education begins. Rock on, baby!"
DRIVING IN TO DAVIDSON COUNTY
If you're down Nashville way, you might remember last year's Darkness on the Edge of Town tribute show that coincided with the eclipse. The same folks are gearing up for '40 Years Burnin Down the Road: Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA,' another benefit for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, at The Basement East on May 22.
Performing the 1984 album in its entirety, Alex Fang tells us, will be the "same great band as last time, featuring musicians who play with the likes of Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw, Darlene Love, Julien Baker, and many more. Charles Esten, star of hit TV show Nashville is performing a couple songs as well. It'll be a blast!"
"THE BOSS OF US ALL," FILM AT 10
After reporting on Blinded By the Light yesterday, with the Greeetings From Bury Park adaptation in its final week of filming, we're particularly happy to see this news report from last night, airing on ITV's News at Ten in the UK. - May 9, 2018
LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION IN THE STREETS! Greetings From Bury Park adaptation coming to the big screen A feature film adaptation of Sarfraz Manzoor's acclaimed 2008 memoir Greetings From Bury Park is currently in production. It will be released under the title Blinded By the Light, directed by Gurinder Chadha — who was responsible for the global hit film Bend It Like Beckham — and Bruce Springsteen has given the film his blessing and permission to use some of his music in it.
Chadha has described the film as a "hybrid musical firmly rooted in the great British tradition of quirky comedies, but with a dash of youthful exuberance inspired by John Hughes' films from the 1980s." Variety is listing it already among the "hot titles" expected to do well in the sales market at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
An article in last Sunday's edition of The Observer (online version available here) further clarifies how Bruce's music will be used in the film. In short, don't think jukebox-musical-style a la Mamma Mia, where the songs actually serve as dialogue. Blinded By the Light instead will use some of Springsteen's recordings in a manner similar to that of many Scorsese films, where a classic record often gets used as incidental music to support the overall emotional tone of a scene. Judging from the content of Manzoor's memoir, it's also likely that there will be scenes involving one or more characters playing a Springsteen record or hearing/seeing Bruce perform on radio/TV. And the Observer article confirms that the character played by Rob Brydon, who in real life is a Springsteen fan, will sing "Thunder Road" in a scene.
Manzoor (pictured above backstage with Bruce after the March 10 performance of Springsteen on Broadway) wrote his memoir to chronicle his experience of growing up in 1980s Luton — an industrial town north of London — as a working class British Pakistani Muslim and how the music of Bruce Springsteen inspired and transformed his life. Manzoor also wrote the screenplay for Blinded by the Light, working in collaboration with Chadha and Paul Mayeda Burges.
Manzoor and Chadha are both major Springsteen fans. Chadha has described the duo's encounter with Bruce at the 2010 London premiere of Thom Zimny's film The Promise, being surprised and excited to learn that not only had Springsteen read Manzoor's book, but admired it: "I quickly pitched him the film we wanted to make from the book on the red carpet and, to our excitement, Bruce nodded and said, 'Sounds good, talk to Jon.' We then spent several years developing a script we knew had to impress Springsteen and managers Jon Landau and Barbara Carr or there would be no film without his music and blessings."
Chadha added, "At a time of such political and social instability in the world, this film provides us with a vital reminder of our shared humanity and the transformative power of music on both a personal and global scale."
"Growing up in Eighties Luton as the working class son of Pakistani Muslim immigrants, my world felt very small," Manzoor explained. "In the music of Bruce Springsteen, I found both hope and wisdom on how I could transcend my circumstances and make my dreams to be a writer come true. The fact that I was so affected by Springsteen's songs shows just how powerfully music can transcend race, religion, nationality and class. Blinded by the Light is also a tribute to my late father, with whom I often fought in my teenage years, not realizing his generation also had dreams they were not able to follow."
The film is currently shooting in various UK locations and is expected to be released worldwide next year. We'll have updates on Blinded by the Light as the film's completion and release draw nearer. - May 8, 2018 - Shawn Poole reporting - production slate photo courtesy of Gurinder Chadha - backstage photo courtesy of Sarfraz Manzoor - publicity photo courtesy of Cornerstone Films
"ONE OF THE GREATEST LIVING WHITE SOUL PERFORMERS AND WRITERS WE HAVE"
Congratulations to newly inducted NJ Hall of Famer Steven Van Zandt
Last night at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, Bruce Springsteen welcomed Steven Van Zandt into the New Jersey Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2017: "Though born in Boston, Massachusetts, there is no purer distillation of the Jersey ethos than Little Steven Van Zandt." Watch Springsteen's induction speech as well as Van Zandt's acceptance below.
Though born in Boston, Massachusetts, there is no purer distillation of the Jersey ethos than Little Steven Van Zandt. He is his own purest creation. Words you will never hear on the street: "Wow, that guy looks just like Little Steven!"
Roaring into New Jersey at seven years old, baptized at 13 in the holy spirit of The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, the Stones on Hollywood Palace, Steve's vocation, rock 'n' roll, chose him early. I first laid eyes on him at the Middletown Hullabaloo Club in 1966. As I walked in, there was Steve with his band The Shadows, knocking out a record-perfect rendition of The Turtles' "Happy Together." Who knew I had just met my black-vested, paisley-tied, teenaged, wild-eyed brother? One look at Steve and I knew that we'd both drunk the same Kool-Aid.
Then it was fast friendship, weekly trips to Greenwich Village and the Cafe Wha? to watch the bands, arguing about who was better, Led Zeppelin or the Jeff Beck Group, The Beatles or the Rolling Stones; who had the perfect clothes, the perfect guitar, the perfect hair; and thousands of hours of preparation for the day when folks could argue about us. Of course, this all culminated in our brotherhood in the E Street Band, Steve's service — playing, singing, producing as my irreplaceable lieutenant — and our lifelong friendship.
While I'm always blessed to have Steve at my side, his solo work speaks for itself. The incredible songs and productions he created for Southside Johnny, such as "I Don'’t Want to Go Home," "Love on the Wrong Side of Town," "It's Been a Long Time"... Steve is one of the greatest living white soul performers and writers we have. His timely and classic Sun City recording — with an organization he created, Artists United Against Apartheid — was not only brave music but worked hard to combat apartheid in South Africa. His incredible work with his ongoing group, the Disciples of Soul. And all of this before you get to Steve's great contribution to Jersey lore as an actor: Silvio in The Sopranos.
Did I mention: he’s a radio host, an entrepreneur with Little Steven's Underground Garage, where he plays all the music you need to hear, and captains the Wicked Cool record label, where he releases great records and gives young bands the shot they deserve.
Steve also has a long career as an activist, too lengthy to go into here, but let’s just say he walks it like he talks it. His Rock and Roll Forever Foundation and his TeachRock program brings an essential curriculum of music and culture into school and makes it available at no cost to educators. In a time of cutbacks in arts funding, Steve's programs are keeping kids engaged in the arts, and in school — this is his greatest legacy.
To finish off, this is a man who was married to his lovely wife Maureen by Little Richard, who was serenaded down the aisle by the great Percy Sledge, is the sole creator of the male babushka, and is the only man I know besides Hugh Hefner who has figured out how to spend his whole life in his pajamas.... I love you, Steve! Welcome to the New Jersey Hall of Fame, Steven Van Zandt!
Steven Van Zandt:
So, destiny is a funny thing. You know, like Bruce was saying, when and where you're born, and the circumstances you're born into, really count. If I had been born ten years earlier, I probably would have been a teenage juvenile delinquent car mechanic, drag racing my car every weekend... and I'd be dead now. If my mother didn't marry Bill Van Zandt, I never would have left Boston and ended up in New Jersey. Growing up in New Jersey ended up being a very good thing. It was less pressure than a major city, so I got a chance to develop. At the same time, it wasn't so great that it made you want to stay there the rest of your life. It gave you some motivation.
Like I said at Rutgers, my life has really been about chasing greatness: I seek it out, I support it when I find it, and I create it when I can. But I wouldn't have known what greatness was if I hadn't grown up in the middle of a renaissance period, when the greatest art being made was also the most commercial. You know? That set your standards very high. Forever. We were lucky to grow up when we did. As I've said many times, nobody's born great. Greatness is developed. And being born when our country was so rich that it allowed the "teenage leisure class" to exist, and gave it time to develop, was very lucky, and the suburbs of New Jersey in the '60s was the perfect place to do it. So destiny and a little bit of luck goes a long way.
Most importantly, if I hadn’t been in New Jersey in the '60s, exactly where I was, doing what I happened to be doing, in the manner I was doing it, I never would have met Bruce Springsteen.
Now, we've done a lot of good work together — and there's still more to come — but what was most important was, he was the only other person I had ever met for whom rock 'n' roll was everything. Not a job, not a convenience, not a way to fortune and fame, not a way to get laid — although it would be all those things. But you have to understand, when we decided to do it, it wasn't a legitimate business yet. And the only successful bands were from England, 3,000 miles away. Not New Jersey. So we needed each other's reinforcement. And with Bruce and the E Street Band, we would do what only a few had accomplished in history before us. We did the impossible... we made New Jersey hip.
And then 20 years later, I had the most extraordinary and unlikely fate of watching New Jersey become fashionable twice in one lifetime... unbelievable. You know, if I hadn't been in New Jersey, I wouldn't have met David Chase or been on The Sopranos. It all depends on where you are, you know? The right timing.... So, thank you New Jersey. You have been very, very good to me, and I hope someday, if my luck holds out, to eventually return the favor.
Thank you, Steve Edwards, thank you Carol Ross, thank you Maureen — I love you, baby — thank you Bruce, I love you. Thank you!
Following the speeches, Little Steven closed the ceremony with performances of "Soulfire" and "I Don't Wanna Go Home," joined on the latter by Springsteen at center mic.
- May 7, 2018 - photographs by Gary Gellman - thanks to Sammy Steinlight
BACK-TO-SCHOOL NIGHT: FREEHOLD 1996
Springsteen's hometown concert for St. Rose of Lima arrives When Backstreets reviewed Bruce Springsteen's 1996 headlining performance in his New Jersey hometown, we questioned whether the night's closing number, a song he'd written for the occasion, qualified as a proper tour debut. But there would be no such question today: the inherently funny and light-hearted "In Freehold" may never rise to the heights of "Born to Run," but it's a real song, full of autobiographical detail, full of geography, full of place. Those elements carry today's archive release: November 8, 1996, at St. Rose of Lima School, in Freehold.
courtesy of Billy Smith
The appearance at Springsteen's boyhood grammar school, a benefit show for its Hispanic Community Center, came about a year into the 18-month trek behind The Ghost of Tom Joad. He took a night off from the straight edge that characterized those shows, lightening the mood and stocking the set with homecoming material. It began with a dirge-like arrangement of "The River," complete with Drop D tuning and fiddle accompaniment from Soozie Tyrell (she and Patti Scialfa guested frequently throughout the show). The character's declaration of his place of origin set the tone for the evening.
Other songs served that purpose, too: "The Wish" appeared, as did lesser-played songs from Nebraska, "Growin' Up," and the first acoustic arrangement of "Racing in the Street." And to hear people applaud and cheer before a quiet song ends? Well, when it's "My Hometown" — played especially for the one that it's based on — that's just fine (Springsteen hadn't exempted his neighbors from his Joad tour "shut the fuck up" speech, but he modified it some).
Scialfa and Springsteen in Freehold, 11/8/96 - photograph by Billy Smith
It was an occasion, to be sure: tickets were meant only for Freehold residents. (At least one out-of-towner secured a pair of tickets the old-fashioned way: with a well-placed phone call to the church and the offer of a substantial charitable donation.) Yet it wasn't the first time Springsteen had played there: his band the Castiles were something of a house band at St. Rose of Lima in the mid-'60s, playing CYO dances in the basement.
At one, probably in 1967, Springsteen recounted using a strobe light and a smoke bomb and smashing a vase of flowers — an attempt, he said in 2015, to emulate the artful destruction he'd witnessed at a Convention Hall concert by The Who. "I looked ridiculous," Springsteen said, "but I went home smiling, feeling a blood bond with Pete Townshend, and never looked back."
"In Freehold" suggests he never really had to: like anyone's primary experience, it was with him the whole time. Delivered as a heartfelt summation more than a last laugh, the song's touchstones included Tex and Marion Vinyard, his own kids, his boyhood house, his Catholic education, and, well, other things — dedicated to Freehold, naturally — and capped the evening perfectly. Like songs Springsteen hadn't played for a long stretch until that night, it was rough around the edges, requiring a "dramatic interlude," as he put it, to remind himself of the lyrics. But with grace and honesty, the song put Bruce's love/hate relationship with his hometown on full display, two decades before Springsteen on Broadway.
Springsteen played a trio of shows later that month in Asbury Park, ones that generally shaped up as celebrations of his first two records and his long-standing association with the other town that shared in his fame and history. But let the record show that Freehold was first. - May 4, 2018 - Jonathan Pont reporting
ROCK HALL CAMERAS ROLLING ON MIGHTY MAX TONIGHT
Tonight in Cleveland, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will be filming Max Weinberg's Jukebox local stop for their education programs. Footage of the Hall of Famer will be used in videos for the Rock Hall's "Meet the Instruments" class for kids, and for their free online education platform, Rock Hall EDU. Tonight's show is at the Winchester Music Tavern in Lakewood, with tickets available here.
From there, Max's Jukebox heads to the DC area for the weekend, with Friday and Saturday night shows at The Barns in Wolf Trap, in Vienna, VA. See all dates at maxweinberg.com. - May 3, 2018
"BACK IN THE LAND OF BRUCE"
Bruce Springsteen has fondly recalled seeing The Doors at Convention Hall as a teenager. Ths past weekend, original member of The Doors John Densmore was back in town, attending the Fourth Annual Asbury Park Music & Film Festival for the world premiere of the film Break On Thru: A Celebration of Ray Manzarek and The Doors. The concert documentary won Best Feature Film; accepting the award, Densmore said, "It's good to back in the land of Bruce... Jim [Morrison] and Ray [Manzarek] would be very pleased."
The festival included appearences by Wyclef Jean, Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and Asbury Park's own Danny DeVito, who highlighted the weekend with a look back on his career on Saturday night. While on stage at the sold-out Paramount Theatre, he had Asbury vocal hero Nicky Addeo join him for the doo-wop song "Over a Cup of Coffee."
- May 2, 2018 - thanks to Sammy Steinlight - Asbury Park Music & Film Festival photo
THREE DOWN, ONE TO GO
Bruce Springsteen will move one step closer to EGOT status next month, when
he'll be presented with a Special Tony Award "for his ongoing engagement Springsteen on Broadway, a once-in-a-lifetime theatregoing experience for the Broadway stage, allowing fans an intimate look at a music idol."
Jay Lustig notes: "According to Tony rules, the Special Tony honors 'a live theatrical event that… does not fit into any other category of Tony Award to be awarded for the current season.' This is the category where Lena Horne got a Tony for 1981/1982 The Lady and Her Music; where Judy Garland was honored for her enthusiastically received shows at the Palace Theatre in 1951; and where, more recently, non-traditional Broadway fare such as Dame Edna: The Royal Tour, Sarah Jones' Bridge and Tunnel and Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Jam on Broadway has been honored."
The American Theatre Wing’s 72nd Annual Tony Awards ceremony on Sunday, June 10 — which also happens to be a night Springsteen on Broadway is dark — will be braodcast live from Radio City Music Hall at 8pm on CBS.
Backstreet Records is the mailorder division of Backstreets, delivering Springsteen merchandise to fans for more than 25 years. We carry numerous collectibles, tour shirts, books, magazines, and imported CDs and records.
The world's best selection of Springsteen collectibles, all available by mail.
We also post all known concert dates for some of our favorite Jersey Shore (and Shore-adopted) musicians:
Joe D'Urso... and more.
For more information on upcoming shows such as these, check out our Concert Calendar.
Many from the Springsteen community banded together to preserve this Asbury Park landmark.... and Tillie has now been saved!
Check our Save Tillie page for the latest developments.
THE SPRINGSTEEN SPECIAL COLLECTION
Organized by Backstreets in 2001, this storehouse of Boss books and magazines is the largest such collection outside of Bruce's mother's basement. Thanks to the generosity of fans around the world, total holdings are now well over 15,000. But the collection is by no means complete.