Here, an excerpt about her stop at the Cadillac Ranch roadside attraction off I-40 in Texas:
I paint ROCKY GROUND and BIG MAN and then, the slogan I had thought the most carefully about, WE'RE ALL RIDERS ON THIS TRAIN. Now, these phrases will probably only make sense and have meaning to you if you are a particular type of crazy Bruce Springsteen fan, so you will have to trust me when I tell you that they are important and meaningful and things I mean to leave there for others of my ilk to see in the future. They would see it and they would smile because they would know that someone like them had been there, too, that they weren't the only crazy ones to shlep all the effing way to the outskirts of Amarillo.
Except that the nature of the installation is that within 15 minutes someone has covered up part of one of my messages, and all you can do is shrug, and go back and paint something else, or paint your slogan somewhere else, but even if you do that, by tomorrow or the day after someone else will show up, pick a spray paint can off the ground (because they are everywhere), and add their own message. I did not expect this to be a major family attraction; I thought that only freaks and weirdos would be hanging out alongside the 10 Cadillacs buried in the ground nose-first, but the installation's proximity to the highway and to civilization (there's a shopping center only five minutes away; the sprawl continues to encroach) makes it a target for anyone driving by, just because it's there, not because they know what it is.
Despite playing no less than five different versions of "Cadillac Ranch" while we were there, painting — and it was limited to five only because we had forgotten to find others to put on the phones — no one there at the time noticed or expressed any type of solidarity whatsoever. To most people, the Cadillac Ranch is just a place to stop, something you can see from the highway, and everyone else is stopping, so Hey, kids, let's check this out. I didn't think it would be a Springsteen Fan Convention, but I thought surely I'd run into one or two of my particular persuasion and we'd have, you know, a moment.
For his new goalie mask, Winnipeg Jet Ondrej Pavelec turned again to David Gunnarson: professional airbrush artist, custom mask painter, and fellow Bruce Springsteen fan. "When Ondrej Pavelec told me he wanted a tribute design to the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, I was totally excited and could not wait to get started," Gunnarson writes on his blog at DaveArt.com. "I remember when I was a kid and I sat in my big brother's room and looked at his posters of the Boss... The Boss is a part of my pop culture life."
As Pavelec tells it, the rest of the team doesn't exactly share his love — "I try to play it every day [in the locker room], but the guys hate it." But as befits a guy whose favorite song is "Badlands," Ondrej will be livin' it every game anyway.
Gunnarson continues: "Ondrej and I brainstormed how to create the design and a plan crystallized in our brains, and I started to paint with my airbrushes. A clean cut old school design with Bruce painted in different eras. Everything created in light colors and a design that breathes Winnipeg Jets." - March 3, 2015
YOU MEAN SO MUCH TO ME
Johnny and the Jukes "Prove It All Night" at the Pony, 2/28/15
Saturday in Asbury Park, a packed house was on hand to greet Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes on the second of a two-night stand that returned the onetime Stone Pony house band to its original stomping grounds. Titled "Prove it All Night: the Music of Bruce Springsteen," the event drew fans from all over the country to hear Johnny Lyon and company render their soul-drenched interpretations of Bruce's material.
The Jukes have a long-standing tradition of Fourth of July shows at the Stone Pony, but this was only the second year that they have taken the indoor stage for special theme shows on the other side of summer. Talking with Backstreets before Saturday night's performance, Southside described his initial stab at the idea a couple years back: "It was the depths of February, it was a bad winter, and they offered us a couple of dates... I thought that this was something where people could really have a break and enjoy something out of the ordinary."
Not only was it hard for Southside to turn down a gig mere minutes from his home in neighboring Ocean Grove, it was also an opportunity for everyone involved to make some money without having to travel during the often hazardous winter months. Those 2013 shows — an all-request night, and the Jukes' debut album track-by-track — went well, so after another difficult winter, Southside decided to do a second round of theme shows this year. In fact, all indications are that this will now be an ongoing enterprise for the band. But why a Springsteen night, especially after years of working to establish a musical identity separate from that of Bruce and the E Street Band?
"I threw ideas at the band, and they went 'no,' 'no,' 'no,'" Southside told Backstreets. "And finally I said, 'Well, why don't we just do Bruce songs?' I mean, after forty-some years, I oughta be able to do a night of Bruce songs."
Indeed, the Jukes rehearsed long and hard to learn not only more a dozen Springsteen songs that were not already in their repertoire, but almost a full set's worth of covers and rarities for night one of the stand (Friday's "Rare Jukes: All the Non-Hits, All the Time"). This being the case, the first thing its fearless leader did after bounding onstage was to recognize the hard work that the band had done to create this special weekend for the fans.
"I wanna thank everybody for coming out to these shows, and thanks to the band for learning these songs," Southside declared. And the night went pretty much according to plan, as the Jukes performed a 20-song set that drew from just about every phase of Springsteen's long career. Over the years, Jukes shows have always leaned heavily on Springsteen material, and those songs — "The Fever," "Trapped Again," "Talk to Me," "All the Way Home," "Hearts of Stone" — were in the set, too, joined by the freshly learned material.
A handful of striking slow numbers included "Jack of All Trades"; a stripped-down "Fade Away,” performed as a lovely duet with keyboardist Jeff Kazee; the starkly powerful "Stolen Car" (with Chris Anderson's trumpet echoing Randy Brecker’s turn on "Meeting Across the River"); and an intense "Something in the Night," bolstered by the Jukes horns.
There were some obvious choices: "You Mean So Much to Me" (the little-played duet with Ronnie Spector that appeared on the Jukes' 1976 debut album), "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out," the jazz-inflected "Kitty’s Back." Then there were songs that didn't seem to translate well to Lyon's vocal style, like "Prove it All Night," but others that at first glance may have seemed far out of the Jukes’ wheelhouse nonetheless proved just about perfect: the guitar-driven "Murder Incorporated" with longtime Juke Bobby Bandiera (above, who sat in for the last third of the set) on lead, or an almost jaunty "Nebraska" performed as a country two-step.
As it turns out, the Nebraska record has long been one of Southside Johnny’s favorites. "I was a big, huge, knocked-out fan of Nebraska, and I still play that occasionally," Lyon told us just prior to the show. (Indeed, Lyon's affection for stripped-down roots music has really come to the fore in his work with the Poor Fools, a "side project" that spawned the recent Songs From the Barn CD.)
One longtime Jukes aficionado remarked, "Theme nights are fun for us, but the band must hate them." But on a Saturday night at the Jersey Shore, you'd have been hard-pressed to tell, especially as they rounded out the Springsteen surprises with the devastating frat-rock one-two of "Sherry Darling" (featuring a mariachi horn arrangement) and the criminally overlooked "Where the Bands Are," which, after a false start, capped the main set in grand style.
And so, after many long hours of practice (and much memorization of Springsteen lyrics) Southside Johnny's vision of a gift to long-suffering fans resulted in a pair of thoroughly satisfying evenings of music at the Stone Pony.
Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?/Rosalita
All the Way Home
Something in the Night
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Prove It All Night
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
You Mean So Much to Me
Jack of All Trades
Talk to Me
Where the Bands Are
* * *
When You Dance
This Time It's For Real
Hearts of Stone
- March 2, 2015 - Lisa Iannucci reporting - photographs by Michael Zorn
LEONARD NIMOY, 1931 - 2015
Rest in peace, Mr. Spock. Here's hoping you've found yourself a nice little place in the stars. - February 27, 2015
Our sneakers cap is back in stock. First produced 10 years ago, for our silver anniversary — with a silver
ring around the logo — this embroidered black baseball cap has been one of our most-requested around the world. So much that, even as we approach the 35th anniversary of Backstreets this year, we decided to keep the silver for this new run. (Besides, the 35th anniversary's "coral" theme just didn't feel right.)
Our pal and longtime reader Jason has requested we reissue the red Backstreets hat from years ago, which echoed the cap in Springsteen's pocket on Born in the USA, and that might just have to be next... so get this black one while the getting's good. Backstreets.com is embroidered on the back (see here). As for other lids, we also still have a few navy Backstreets hats remaining, as well as official 2006 Springsteen caps from the Seeger Sessions tour.
Our longtime logo of the dangling sneakers (which we're still asked about now and then) was inspired by Eric Meola photographs and promotional images from 40 years ago. Plus, y'know, baby, we were born to run.
- February 25, 2015
Mighty Max is back this Friday on Hawaii Five-O
A couple years back, Max Weinberg guested on an episode of Hawaii Five-O in the episode "Hookman." This Friday, he tells us, he's back. "I play Norm, a gun shop-owner," Max says of his now-recurring role that surely inspires a double-take or two. "I really don't look like myself — it's amazing what they do with make-up." And prosthetics? "Well, for the end of the episode... nah, I don't want to spoil anything." He does tweet, "Big ending!" Follow @EStreetMax on Twitter, and tune in to Hawaii Five-O (Season 5, episode 17) this Friday, February 27, at 9/8c on CBS. - February 24, 2015
JOHNNY& THE JUKES READYING DEEP CUTS FOR THE PONY
This weekend brings Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes back to the Stone Pony for two special themed performances: on Friday, it's "Rare Jukes: All the Non-Hits, All the Time"; on Saturday, the much anticipated and sold-out "Prove It All Night: The Music of Bruce Springsteen."
For his site NJArts.net, Jay Lustig spoke at length with Mr. Lyon about his plans, revealing "an extremely different version of 'Johnny 99'" among those he's been working on for Saturday night, an even mix of tracks he's covered and ones he hasn't. "I'm just assuming Bruce won't be upset," Southside says. "After all, he's given me some of his best songs. If I butcher some more of his songs, I'm sure he's used to it by now."
Johnny also speaks to any concern he might once have had about doing an all-Springsteen night:
Years ago I never would have done this. But I'm 66 years old, I've been doing this for almost half a century. I've made my own way in the world. Besides, who gives a shit [laughs]. There is some trepidation early on. You think, "I don't want to ride on the guy's coattails. He's done great things for me." You also have to forge your own identity. But now, after all this time, who would care about that? Anybody who cares about that is living in thge past.
And they're great songs. We picked up some very interesting things. Some faily obscure things. And some that I never heard, because they were on [Tracks]... I mean, I never listened to all of that. Anytime there's more than 10 songs on an album, I probably won't listen to it. [laughs]
PLEASE DON'T STOP
A year ago, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were
ripping it up Australia. Now, Australia rips it up right back. Dig Wagons covering "State Trooper," "recorded live as you hear it, without an overdub." Download the track for "name your price" here. More at wagonsmusic.com. - February 24, 2015
"THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND" IS 75 TODAY
According to Woody Guthrie Publications, it was on this date in 1940 that Woody Guthrie composed "This Land Is Your Land" in New York City. Click here to see an e-mail message sent from woodyguthrie.org in celebration of today's 75th anniversary. It features links to a special audio mash-up of Woody and Arlo Guthrie singing "This Land," an image of Woody’s handwritten lyrics, and an open invitation to send in your own images of what Woody's enduring song means to you.
Above, watch a multicam edit of the epic SXSW performance by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band with special guests Arcade Fire, Joe Ely, Alejandro Escovedo, Garland Jeffreys, The Low Anthem, and Tom Morello, live in concert on March 15, 2012 at The Moody Theater in Austin, TX.
Earlier that day, in his 2012 SXSW Keynote Speech, Bruce had this to say about the work of Woody Guthrie: "Why do we continue to talk about Woody so many years on? Never had a hit, never went platinum, never played in an arena, never got his picture on the cover of Rolling Stone. But he's a ghost in the machine — big, big ghost in the machine. And I believe it's because Woody's songs, his body of work, tried to answer Hank Williams' question: why your bucket has a hole in it. And that's a question that's eaten at me for a long time."
"TO LIVE MY LIFE THE WAY I WANT" Lesley Gore, 1946-2015
On the surface, '60s pop princess Lesley Gore, who died last Monday, might have seemed to have little in common with Bruce Springsteen. Nevertheless, there were some notable connections between these two longtime New Jersey residents. For one, Joan Jett can thank each of them for providing great cover material on two of her best singles: "You Don't Own Me" (Jett's debut single) and "Light of Day." E Street Horns member Eddie Manion also worked with Lesley Gore, as Kingfish himself noted on Facebook shortly after her passing.
In 1999, both Gore and Springsteen donated their music to Sounds for the Soul: The New Jersey Benefit Project, a unique compilation CD of Jersey-connected artists performing songs related to the Garden State and/or social concerns. (The album cover, pictured here, featured Tony Bennett's original watercolor painting entitled "Atlantic City.") Bruce contributed his official studio version of "My Hometown," while Lesley Gore closed the album with "All One Family," co-written by Gore and recorded specifically for the project. Gore sang the song with Broadway's Michael Demby-Cain and young students from North Jersey's John Harms Center, now known as the Bergen Performing Arts Center. The limited-run CD was sold online and at various New Jersey stores, with all proceeds benefiting five local organizations: the Center for Food Action, the Center for Help, Edgewater Good Neighbor Fund, Friends for Life, and Shelter Our Sisters. Jane Roberti, the album's executive producer, has just agreed to donate one of her few remaining copies of this now-rare CD to The Bruce Springsteen Special Collection in light of Lesley Gore's passing.
Like Bruce, Lesley Gore was an artist who didn't shy away from taking a stand when she felt the need to do so. In 2005, she opened up publicly about her sexuality and served as one of the hosts for PBS' groundbreaking LGBT newsmagazine In The Life. During the 2012 presidential campaign, Gore presided over the conversion of her classic hit "You Don't Own Me" into a clever pro-choice PSA. Such actions on Gore's part reveal that on a deeper, more important level, there's really not much distance at all between "to live my life the way I want" and "Honey, I want the heart, I want the soul, I want control right now." - February 23, 2015 - Shawn Poole reporting - Sounds for the Soul cover image courtesy of Jane Roberti
WAITIN' ON A SUNNY DAY?
In the midst of all this winter weather, here's just the thing for a Monday: Little Steven Van Zandt was back on Q104.3's "Breakfast with the Beatles" yesterday, co-hosting with his good friend Ken Dashow. Stevie performed four Beatles covers, including "Here Comes the Sun" with Mark Rivera and Marc Ribler — a lovely plea to "End winter now!"
Dashow and Steven also talked about McCartney's secret small club show last week in NYC. When asked if he would rather play a large venue like Wembley Stadium or a small club like The Stone Pony, Steven paused before responding, "You'd have to ask my accountant about that one... but I'd say The Pony." - February 23, 2015 - thanks to Sammy Steinlight
LEGENDS OF SPRINGSTEEN: DECEMBER 1975
Hands me the ticket, smiles and whispers good luck
After throwing back to 12/31/75 yesterday, we heard from our pal Cliff Breining, who was at the Tower Theater that New Year's Eve — thanks to the kindness (and follow-through) of 26-year-old Bruce Springsteen. Cliff writes:
"I'm blown away with the sound of the 192/24 version of New Year’s at the Tower. This was our 19th show, and we were there courtesy of Bruce.
"My wife and I were at the Bottom Line to see all of Patti Smith's shows in December. After her last show on Friday, I noticed Bruce sitting at a table near the stage. I got up the courage to go up and say hello, tell him how much I loved the Roxy shows and that I was desperate for a couple of tickets for the New Year's Eve show. I had a pair for 12/28, but after running ads in the Aquarian and Good Times, I couldn't find anyone who wanted to sell tickets for the final show. Bruce gave me a cocktail napkin and said, 'Here, write your names and I'll leave a couple at the box office.'
"New Year's Eve came, and it was cold and raining in Ft. Lee, NJ, where I worked. Chris and I left early and faced the traffic on the Jersey Turnpike. Halfway through Jersey, the rain turned to sleet and the drive was sloooooow. As we approached the Franklin Bridge into Philly, it was snowing and the wind was blowing. Never did it occur to us that maybe the tickets wouldn’t be waiting for us. I'm glad I kept the two envelopes that were there."
Tickets for earlier shows in the Philly stand were $7.50; as you can see above, for the New Year's Eve show they jumped to a whopping 10 bucks. - February 20, 2015
REVIEWING NEW YEAR'S EVE '75
If you're like us, you've already been throwing back to nearly 40 years ago, with the new Tower Theater, Philadelphia 1975 archival release. Here's an eyewitness review from that night. Sounds magazine, reporting on the show in the January 10, 1976 edition, described Bruce and the band
as "tired but happy" on this fifth night in a row at the Tower, with "an attitude of 'give it everything we've got.'" A few goofs here — "He's the One," bassist "Gary Pallente" — but writer Kris Nicholson isn't a stranger to Bruce's music, noting the new tempo of "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" and summing up the night: "It wasn't Springsteen's finest show but it was one of his most surprising." Click the image to expand. - February 19, 2015 - article courtesy of the Friends of the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection
IT'S ME AND YOU FRANK
The second installment of the Asbury Park Press's "At Home With" segment takes you inside Outlaw Pete co-author/illustrator Frank Caruso's digs in Monroe, NJ. In the video linked above, you'll see not only his own personal Jersey diner (complete with Popeye pinball machine and Betty Boop jukebox machine), but also some Outlaw Pete original art and unused art in the cartoonist's basement studio. The APP article describes Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes playing on that Caruso-designed jukebox, as well as some Outlaw Pete candy bars in the kitchen. - February 18, 2015
IN HARMONY: WEST SIDE EXHIBIT ON NOW AT MONMOUTH U
During the month of February, Monmouth University's Pollak Gallery is hosting "Asbury Park's Springwood Avenue Harmony," an exhibit dedicated to the rich musical legacy of Asbury Park's West Side. The exhibit, which features photography, posters, sheet music, vinyl records and other memorabilia, is curated by music historians Charlie and Pamela Horner [above], creators of the Classic Urban Harmony web site and newsletter. Highlights include little seen photographs of legendary clubs like Big Bill's, rare concert posters (including a reproduction of the poster advertising the infamous Frankie Lymon show at Convention Hall which resulted in a riot and, briefly, a ban on rock 'n' roll in Asbury Park) and part of the neon sign from Leo Karp's Turf Club [below].
During the pre-Brown vs. Board of Ed. era, just about every major city in America had a shopping/entertainment district catering to a primarily African-American clientele. Featuring restaurants, retail stores and night life, this type of city-within-city spawned countless national acts like Count Basie and Duke Ellington, who in the beginning had honed their chops before demanding but appreciative homegrown audiences.
In Asbury Park, the West Side was such a community; music fans might catch the likes of Ella Fitzgerald in a late-night jam at clubs like the Orchid Lounge or the Turf Club after a performance at an expensive, "high class" club across town, and area musicians occasionally sat in. This native talent — which included future E Streeters David Sancious, Garry Tallent and Clarence Clemons — could also be found augmenting local bands like The Broadways on occasion (see Daniel Wolff's excellent 4th of July, Asbury Park).
The scene was insular even then, drawing musical talent from towns throughout Monmouth County, and the working-class West Side, which was home not just to African Americans, but to the Italian American community, was a hotbed of jazz, blues, R&B and doo wop music. The small ten-block district along Springwood Avenue spawned big talent, including Lenny Welch ("Since I Fell For You"), Billy Brown (The Broadways; Ray, Goodman & Brown) and Bobby Thomas (The Vibranaires, The Orioles).
At the Monmouth University exhibit's opening reception [L-R]: Pam Horner (exhibit curator), Billy Brown (Uniques, Broadways, Moments, Ray Goodman & Brown), Robert Conti (Broadways), Ron Coleman (Uniques, Broadways), Charlie Horner (exhibit curator).
It was a scene that would likely have been lost to history except for Thomas, whose appearance on a radio program hosted by Charlie Horner led to a friendship that would awaken new audiences to the vibrant West Side scene of yesteryear. "Bobby knew we wanted to document this kind of music," Horner told the Two RiverTimes. "He told us about Asbury Park and introduced us to a lot of the West Side singers. The more people we talked to, the more we became fascinated. Their stories were so fabulous we felt the world needed to know them."
The Bobby Thomas display case with his personal Silvertone guitar
As the cultural segregation that necessitated communities like the West Side began to wane, the venues that had hosted African American performers also began to vanish. In Asbury Park, the devastation of the July 1970 riot left Springwood Avenue in smoldering rubble, just as Washington DC's U Street district had burned after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. two years earlier. The neighborhood has yet to recover, as vacant and abandoned buildings haunt this once-vibrant community. (Just a few weeks ago, the Asbury Park Press documented the failure of yet another local institution, the West Side Community Center.) While Asbury Park's oceanfront area and Cookman/Lake Avenue entertainment districts thrive, the wounds of 1970 continue to fester just across the railroad tracks along Springwood.
But without the West Side, the city itself would not have become an internationally famous music destination. Self-described "misfits" like Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny Lyon discussed the key role that cultural cross-pollination between Cookman Avenue haunts like the Upstage and various West Side venues played during a 2011 discussion forum. What happened in Asbury Park was unique because so much of the talent on display was local; Springwood was the crucible that forged not just Basie but gospel groups like the Missionary Jubilaires, the doo wop of the Broadways, even "girl groups" like The Shondelles. Lyon remembered listening outside of clubs like the Orchid Lounge, while Springsteen recalled a number of gigs in which his band The Castiles opened for groups like the Ray and the Darchaes (featuring Nicky Addeo).
Exhibits like "Springwood Avenue Harmony" remain rare; much of this cultural history has never been covered by the mainstream press, and content is of necessity obtained either from the musicians themselves or from African American newspapers, rare posters and advertisements. The Horners have worked tirelessly to realize Bobby Thomas' vision, and the result is a one-of-a-kind exhibit that rightfully belongs alongside those in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
- February 16, 2015 - Lisa Iannucci reporting - photographs courtesy of classicurbanharmony.net [1,4,5] and Lisa Iannucci [2,3]
DYLAN ON SPRINGSTEEN: "A DEEP, CONSCIENTIOUS CAT"
Now on bobdylan.com, the 2015 MusiCares Person of the Year talked with Bill Flanagan after last week's pre-GRAMMYS event. It's safe to say Dylan enjoyed "Knockin' on Heaven's Door":
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF BRUCE’S PERFORMANCE?
Incredible! He did that song like the record, something I myself have never tried. I never even thought it was worth it. Maybe never had the manpower in one band to pull it off. I don’t know, but I never thought about it. To tell you the truth, I’d forgotten how the song ought to go. Bruce pulled all the power and spirituality and beauty out of it like no one has ever done. He was faithful, truly faithful to the version on the record, obviously the only one he has to go by. I’m not a nostalgic person, but for a second there it all came back, Peckinpah, Slim Pickens, Katy Jurado, James Coburn, the dusty lawless streets of Durango, my first wife, my kids when they were small. For a second it all came back … it was that powerful. Bruce is a deep conscientious cat and the evidence of that was in the performance. He can get to your heart, my heart anyway.
HE PLAYED SOME EXPLOSIVE GUITAR THAT WASN’T ON THE ORIGINAL RECORDING.
Yeah, well that’s just Bruce being Bruce. He’s got to remind people that he can play that thing. It wasn't incessant though. It didn’t detract from the song. He brought it in quick and pulled it back quick. He definitely knows when and how to stick something in and then move it back. He’s a great performer all around.
FIFTY DIFFERENT SHADES AND BRUCE IS ON
For those Fifty Shades of Grey fans out there, you probably already know that S&M guru Christian Grey is a Bruce Springsteen fan. This weekend the film adaptation is out, in which a cover of "I'm on Fire" by Awolnation features prominently in a steamy scene between Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Grey (Jamie Dornan). It's an effective cover, but perhaps this was a missed opportunity for "The Ties That Bind." - February 13, 2015 - Emily Dorezas reporting
Two decades earlier, Springsteen delivered his first — and, to date, only other — public performance of the song, with Wolfgang Niedecken and His Leopardefellband at Berlin's Cafe Eckstein on July 9, 1995. Bruce was there to film his GreatestHits-era music video for "Hungry Heart." Springsteen, Niedecken & Co. entertained the audience between takes with performances of various songs including another Dylan cover, "Highway 61 Revisited." - February 12, 2015 - Shawn Poole reporting
HAVE LOVE, WILL TRAVEL (AND SHIP) To celebrate fine romance this Valentine's Day, get 14% off everything in the Backstreet Records shop! For your sweetie or yourself, every last bit of Boss merch we carry is on sale. Discount will be applied at checkout when you enter this coupon code:THROWROSES. This across-the-board sale only lasts through Saturday night.
Happy Valentine's Day from Backstreets — we wish each and every one of you a happy rendezvous high on a mountain of love. - February 11, 2015
NEW ARCHIVAL RELEASE: FINAL NIGHT OF THE '75 BORN TO RUN TOUR
Fresh mix from multi-track of New Year's Eve show at Tower Theater
For Bruce Springsteen, 1975 was a year that changed everything, 12 months of milestones which included recording the majority of and releasing the seminal Born to Run to critical acclaim; his first true national and international tour in support of the album; and appearing simultaneously on the covers of Time and Newsweek.
The year and the Born to Run tour came to a close with a four-night stand on friendly turf at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, PA, on the outskirts of Philadelphia, with the final show ringing in 1976. The band marked the occasion by wearing tuxedos, in response to which Bruce said, "If I’d known you guys would dress like this, I wouldn't have come." That memorable performance arrives today at live.brucespringsteen.net as the third archival release in Springsteen's live Archive Series .
December 31, 1975 is newly mixed from 16-track master reels by Toby Scott and mastered by Adam Ayan at Bob Ludwig's Gateway Mastering. It's being released in standard and ultra-high-resolution 24-bit/192Khz digital files, as well as being available for CD pre-orders which will ship in another month, says Brad Serling, founder and CEO of Nugs.net which powers the Springsteen download store.
"In looking for the next release," Serling tells Backstreets, "we wanted to go for the highest quality sources we could find. With Agora, we found the highest-quality two-track, but we didn't want to go down that road with the next release. Toby was going through the list of what Sony had in their archive, and up came a complete set of multi-track reels from the last night of the Born to Run tour. So that was pretty compelling."
Things moved impressively fast from there, as Scott got the tapes from Sony and shipped them to Sonicraft, which specializes in multi-track analog-to-digital transfers and just happens to be based in Bruce’s hometown of Freehold, NJ.
"It didn't require the level of work of a Plangent transfer," Serling explains. "The tapes just needed to be baked and sampled." The 24/192 transfer made its way back to Thrill Hill, where Toby Scott began to mix "as purely as possible, with no gadgetry" through his SSL console. "He built the mix in a way he knew Bruce would like a live show to sound, particularly from that era," Serling adds. Scott sent the results to Jon Landau and to Bruce for them to listen and approve, and then on to Gateway for mastering. The process wrapped up the first week in February.
The show was recorded by a young Jimmy Iovine in the Record Plant's remote truck, one of a few select dates (including CW Post College on Long Island and Seneca College in Toronto) captured at the request of Mike Appel for a possible live album. Rough mixes of the show were made back in early 1976 for consideration, but the live album plan was scrapped.
Nine tracks from those '76 mixes surfaced to collectors a few years ago, and a rough two-track board tape has been around for decades from the collection of the Philadelphia DJ Ed Sciaky. But this all-new Toby Scott mix marks the first time the complete performance has been heard, and the quality is undoubtedly unprecedented.
In terms of setlist, Philadelphia 12/31/75 varies materially from the other high-quality document we have of the Born to Run tour, Hammersmith Odeon, London '75, recorded just six weeks earlier on November 18. The set includes the show jump-starter "Night," "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?," the stunning and short-lived slow piano arrangement of "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out," plus extraordinary covers of The Animals' "It's My Life," Manfred Mann's "Pretty Flamingo" and Harold Dorman's "Mountain of Love" (also made famous by Johnny Rivers) before closing out the night with "Twist and Shout."
"It is amazing how young Bruce sounds," notes Serling. "It's the end of this monumental tour, at a pivotal point in his career, and it is thrilling to listen to." - February 10, 2015 - Erik Flannigan reporting
SEARCHING FOR A LITTLE BIT OF GOD'S MERCY
Springsteen plays tribute to Dylan at MusiCares
On a night when Bob Dylan himself pulled no punches in what amounted to a sort of critical career rebuttal masked as an acceptance speech, Bruce Springsteen more than acquitted himself as a Dylan interpreter by offering a welcome fresh take on one the honoree's best-known tunes.
Joined by his SoCal muse and common-law E Street Band member Tom Morello, Springsteen brought compelling focus and intensity to "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," singing the song with reverence while restoring some depth of meaning to its familiar refrain. While he didn’t sound like Johnny Cash, Bruce's performance resonated like an American Recording.
The arrangement too was deft, worked through with the event's crack house band (including Don Was, Buddy Miller, Kenny Aornoff, Benmont Tench and Greg Leisz) during the previous day's soundcheck, and highlighted by Morello's powerful yet admirably restrained guitar work that brought the song to another level without becoming bombastic.
It was one of the clear highlights on a night that veered more folk than rock, the efforts of Beck and Jack White notwithstanding. Other high points came from Jackson Browne ("Blind Willie McTell"), John Doe ("Pressing On"), Tom Jones ("What Good Am I?") and Bonnie Raitt ("Standing in the Doorway").
Morello told Billboard that Springsteen had initially sought to perform "Blind Willie McTell" himself, but it had already been promised to Browne. We had been hoping for "Series of Dreams" from The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3, a song cited by multiple biographers and writers as having had enormous influence on Springsteen's own writing in the early '90s and, more specifically, as the catalyst to Bruce writing one his greatest songs from that period, "Living Proof." - February 8, 2015 - Erik Flannigan reporting
MUSICARES TRIBUTE TONIGHT: BRUCE TO HONOR BOB IN L.A.
Rehearsing for Musicares Jack White, Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Alanis Morrissette, Sheryl Crow, pic.twitter.com/LNcaZwKasD
THIS DAY IN BOSS HISTORY
Forty years ago tonight, a legendary Springsteen show — one of his greatest (and most-bootlegged) performances, featuring the premiere of "Thunder Road" (then known as "Wings for Wheels") along with early versions of "Jungleland" and "Born to Run," and the first-known cover of "Mountain of Love." It was February 5, 1975 at the Main Point in Bryn Mawr, PA, broadcast on Philadelphia's WMMR and hosted by the late, great DJ Ed Sciaky.
The broadcast 40 years ago tonight wasn't quite live; Sciaky explained the two-hour delay to Backstreets in issue #82: "We didn't have a phone line from the Main Point, so they had to tape the show in hour-long segments and then drive them to the station and put the on the air. And after the final reel had played, Bruce's lighting guy Marc Brickman took all of the tapes. So we never got a good copy of the show. But it was a classic show, and it's collected to this day, and I'm glad." - February 5, 2015
VISUAL AID: PHOTOGRAPHY FROM THE AGORA, 8/9/78
If you've been listening to the August 9, 1978 Cleveland Agora concert, the latest in Springsteen's official series of live downlads and CDs, here's a treat for your eyes to go along with the aural experience: Cleveland.com has posted a series of photographs shot by Bob Ferrell that night. Freelancing for WMMS and Columbia, Ferrell shot six rolls at this legendary Agora show; it's his image that graces the "cover" of the new release, and you can view a 20-photo slideshow here. - February 3, 2015 - photograph by Bob Ferrell
The drummer currently leading
Loudwire's "Best Drummer of 2014" poll... well, he's unidentified. But if you keep up with the world of rock drumming at all, you may well have a good idea who's behind the new Slipknot drummer's mask — it's been called "the worst-kept secret in rock," after all.
"The metal world has pretty much figured out the identity of Slipknot's new drummer," reads the ballot, "but let's keep what little mystique there is going." Fair enough. So we'll just encourage you to vote for the Masked Drummer in the 4th Annual Loudwire Music Awards. You can even vote every hour, until the poll closes tomorrow morning at 9am Eastern. Go give the drummer some. - February 2, 2015 - photograph (Paris, 1/29/15) via Instagram
ONE FOR SUPER SUNDAY: BORN TO GET AWAY
Well, if you're gonna be watching Katy Perry today, let's at least put this in the mix. A mash-up with
Perry's "The One That Got Away." (Your mileage, as they say, may vary.) - February 1, 2015
FOR FRANK CARUSO
This Sunday, February 1, is Super for all sorts of reasons. In addition to the Seahawks vs. Patriots, it's also the kick-off of Grammy Week, which will bring Springsteen to Los Angeles for the MusiCares salute to Bob Dylan on February 6.
And if you're in the L.A. area, Sunday brings a chance to meet Outlaw Pete co-author and illustrator Frank Caruso, who'll be signing at Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard.
This is the only West Coast signing Frank has planned, so get there if you can. The event starts at 1pm, which gives you plenty of time to get home for guacamole dip and chicken fingers. - January 30, 2015
THIS JUST IN Bruce Springsteen: Halfway to Heaven & Just a Mile Out of Hell, a 2009 coffee table book by June Skinner Sawyers, wasn't distributed far and wide, as it was published for and exclusively sold by Barnes & Noble; we've never stocked it before. But it's a worthy addition to the Boss bookshelf, and though it's out of print, we just scored a small stack.
In Halfway to Heaven she offers a career overview, tracing Springsteen's development as a performer up through Super Bowl XLIII, along with in-depth analyses of each album and lots of sidebar detours throughout. It's an LP-sized hardcover, packed with color photos and memorabilia that offer some fun visual surprises along the way, even if the history is something you feel you know by heart. Limited quantity available. See all Latest Arrivals here. - January 29, 2015
SPIN THE RED CIRCLE
We always try to throw in a little something extra when you order from Backstreet Records; as mail-order record shoppers ourselves we always like being on the receiving end of such things... and we also know your hard-earned dollar could always go somewhere like Amazon instead.
At the moment we're including Backstreets coasters with bigger orders ($75 or more), and with every order we're now including this new red label sticker, just in. The sticker celebrates 35 years of Backstreets — from one vinyl era through to the next — a milestone we'll pass in 2015. Perfect for guitar cases, iPads, amps, Trapper Keepers, laptops, club bathroom walls.... Yours free when you order any ol' thing from our online shop, and we greatly appreciate the support.
- January 28, 2015
HEEDING A CERTAIN CALL, JANUARY 28, 1985
It's been three decades since Bruce Springsteen joined a historic gathering of artists after the American Music Awards, for the recording of "We Are the World" 30 years ago tonight. Springsteen had just wrapped up the U.S. leg of the Born in the U.S.A. tour the night before in Syracuse [video], and he flew to L.A. specifically for the USA for Africa session at A&M Studios in Hollywood. As he said that night, "Any time somebody asks you to take one night of your time to help people who are starving to death, it's pretty hard to say no."
If it has proven to be the catchiest song you never need to hear again, "We Are the World" was phenomenally successful as a benefit project; according to the organization's website, United Support of Artists for Africa raised more than $75 million for poverty and hunger relief in Africa.
"We Are the World" co-writer Lionel Richie later told Playboy that of everyone at the January 28, 1985 session, "I dug [Springsteen] the most. That's because he's business. I didn't have to worry about making him he prima donna. He came in the door and said, 'I came here to do this. Just tell me where to go and I've got it, buddy."
Springsteen didn't actually attend the American Music Awards that night 30 years ago, though for the record, he won the Favorite Pop/Rock Single award, with "Dancing in the Dark" beating out Prince's "When Doves Cry"; Bruce and Prince both lost Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist to Richie. - January 28, 2015
BYE BYE JOHNNY, JOHNNY BYE BYE
We here at Backstreets mourn the loss of our friend John Anderson, who succumbed to ALS yesterday morning at the age of 45. Regular readers may remember the wonderful gift his many friends gave him some months back: a backstage visit with Bruce & Co. — John wrote about that special moment for us, "If Dreams Came True, Oh, Wouldn't That Be Nice?"
I first met John when he was barely out of high school, when we actually had to sneak him in to shows. He was about the same age as my little brother and was always the guy you could talk into a spur-of-the-moment drive up from DC to hit the Pony on a Friday or Saturday night. We didn't really know anyone from the Jersey Shore scene back then, but we knew we had to be there. We had no money and no place to stay, so most times we'd just turn around and make the three-hour drive right back to DC. John was always up for anything, and he was one of the few people who took me seriously as a Springsteen fan right from the beginning. I'll never forget the long, passionate discussions we used to have about music, the crazy sleepless road trips we'd embark upon. John's sunny personality was the perfect counterbalance to my intense moodiness, and I guess that's why we got along so well. His warm, ever-present smile, his fair-mindedness, generosity and relentlessly positive attitude were always there to lift me up in my darkest moments and to remind me of what was really important in life. Rest in peace, my friend. - January 27, 2015 - Lisa Iannucci reporting - photograph by Adam Baker
The Horners, who publish Classic Urban Harmony, a newsletter and website covering those genres, assembled original photographs both from the estate of vocalist Bobby Thomas and from Madonna Carter Jackson (sister of former E Street drummer Ernest "Boom" Carter). The lovingly restored black and white photos bring to life a bygone era that had, until the publication of Daniel Wolff’s 4th of July, Asbury Park in 2005, largely faded from collective memory.
The exhibit expands upon a similar exhibit that ran during Light of Day week at Asbury Park's Heaven Gallery, and will include postcards, sheet music and rare vinyl that evoke a remarkable period in the city's history.
"Asbury Park's Springwood Avenue Harmony" will run Feb 1-28 at the Pollak Gallery on the campus of Monmouth University in West Long Branch, NJ. The gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with an opening reception on Wed. Feb. 4. Visit the university's event listings for further information. - January 26, 2015 - Lisa Iannucci reporting
UNBOXING ROY BITTAN (AND REMEMBERING DANNY ON HIS BIRTHDAY)
Last week, rollingstone.com published Part One of a new Andy Greene interview with Roy Bittan, focusing on his solo album Out of the Box and highlighting his off-E Street collaborations. Now, Part Two is up, with the Professor talking about his career with Springsteen (with the E Street Band and without), their beach photos together, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Read: "Roy Bttan Looks Back on 40 Years in the E Street Band."
For more talk with Roy, see Backstreets #88, our tribute issue to Phantom Dan Federici — who, not so incidentally, would have turned 65 today — in which the Professor spoke with us at length about playing with Danny and Charlie Giordano as well as about his own experiences in Springsteen's bands. - January 23, 2015
ASBURY PARK PRESS LOOKS TO THE WEST SIDE
With Light of Day lighting up the streets of Asbury Park last week, there's been a lot of good news coming out of Bruce Springsteen's adopted hometown lately. But as ever, it's not all carnival life. Daniel Wolff, author of 4th of July, Asbury Park: A History of the Promised Land, points us to a new Asbury Park Press video regarding the West Side Community Center, "once a valued center for vulnerable Asbury Park youth," as the APP reports, which "has drastically scaled back its programs and its hours."
The West Side Community Center has been a regular beneficiary of Springsteen's local holiday and rehearsal shows over the years, but clearly that hasn't been enough. Wolff writes us, "This story is as old as Asbury Park. The report doesn't clarify why funding has fallen off, but the lack of opportunities for kids, etc. were cited as reasons for the 1970 rebellion that burned down the West Side. We can do better." Watch:"What Happened to the West Side Community Center?" - January 23, 2015
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MAD DOG!
A week ago, original E Street drummer Vini Lopez was backing Mike Rocket at Asbury Lanes for Light of Day [above]... today, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer celebrates
66 years on the planet. Have a great birthday, Vini, don't do anything we wouldn't do. - January 22, 2015 - photograph by Michael Colarusso
BONUS BACKSTREETS COASTERS: NOT JUST FOR REMASTERS ANYMORE
For TheAlbum Collection Vol. 1 remasters box, we produced these exclusive Greetings From Asbury Park coasters to include as a bonus from Backstreet Records. With beautiful photography by Mark Krajnak, they were highlighted on the PsPrint blog for "Imaginative Printing" and proved popular enough that we had to order up a second batch to get everyone taken care of.
With the rush on the box set behind us, however, that leaves us with a stack of these coaster sets on the shelf, and we don't want them to languish there... a few people have asked us how to get the coasters, if they already have the box set...
So while they last, get this pack of four Backstreets coasters FREE with any order over $75. No coupon required; we'll automatically include the set with every qualifying order, while they last. See fronts and backs below, and start shopping!
- January 21, 2015
THIS IS ARCADE RADIO
We are happy to introduce Asbury Park's Arcade-Radio.com, the one-stop source for music happenings in Asbury Park. While many music fans visiting the Asbury area come for the history — and a storied history it is — Arcade-Radio.com is focused squarely on the here and now, for those who love music and want to know the latest happenings in the Jewel of the Jersey Shore.
Co-helmed by our pal and longtime Backstreets contributor Tim Donnelly, Arcade Radio was all over Light of Day WinterFest 2015, and their photographer Chris Spiegel delivers the visual goods from the week as well [at right, Springsten on Saturday night].
An Asbury Park resident and dogged crusader for the local arts and music scene, Donnelly says, "Right now we are swirling towards another renaissance. The music and the art being produced here is gaining a healthy momentum. It is drawing attention from the metropolitan voids and the international aristocracy who don't often focus on obscure coastal villages. It is something to celebrate.
"We like celebrations. We love music and art. We, very simply, want to be a vehicle to facilitate, and document, and inform everyone here, there and everywhere about what we have the good fortune to be a part of."
Look to Arcade-Radio.com for show calendars and previews, crowd-sourced videos, and playlists consisting of who is playing in Asbury Park this week. You'll find interviews there as well, like Tim's talk with Jake Clemons conducted at a Stone Pony show in late 2014.
"This site is going to be a utility that does all of that," says Donnely. "We will let you know what is going on all over town from Main Street to the Boardwalk, every night of the week, covering musicians from out of town coming through, and the people who make Asbury Park, Asbury Park."
In addition to the website and its online store, you can also visit the brick-and-mortar Arcade Radio shop, in the Grand Arcade of Asbury Park Convention Hall at 1300 Ocean Avenue, for merch and music from local bands. - January 21, 2015 - photograph by Chris Spiegel
ROCK SPRINGS ETERNAL: RICHARD FORD ON BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
Bruce Springsteen has sung the praises of great American novelist Richard Ford, most recently in the New York Times, where he named the writer a "current favorite" and cited Ford's Frank Bascombe books: "I love the way Richard Ford writes about New Jersey. The Sportswriter, Independence Day and The Lay of the Land are all set on my stomping grounds and, besides being poignant and hilarious, nail the Jersey Shore perfectly."
It's fun to see Ford — already known to be a Springsteen fan, even if the name of his Pulitzer and PEN/Faulkner award-winning Independence Day were any kind of coincidence — return the hat-tip, with a new piece in the Wall Street Journal on "Wild Billy's Circus Story." Ford tells Marc Meyers that the Springsteen song "captures the louche danger and sweet longing of the carnival better than anything I know," and he goes on to describe his Springsteen awakening. He also says flat-out: "Springsteen's New Jersey songbook was instrumental to my believing that the Garden State was a fit subject and setting for what became my Frank Bascombe novels."
Of course, Ford was careful as to how he let that inspiration play out in his craft. In a 1997 interview with Elinor Ann Walker, the novelist spoke of his resistance to using Springsteen references or lyrics in his writing "because I know I'd have a hard time overcoming their particular authority. If I struck a Springsteen lyric into a line of mine or a scene in the story, I'd be afraid that... the lyric would just suck all of my particular authority out of the scene and into a Bruce Springsteen ethos, and that would be it for me. In fact, there's a scene in The Sportswriter that takes place pretty close to the Jersey shore in which Frank [Bascombe] is in a phone booth, where he actually gets hit by a car, and a girl comes over from the root beer stand. A carhop. And when I got her over to where he was, I write that she was wearing a sweatshirt, and I really wanted to put some catchy Springsteen lyric on it, or else put 'Springsteen Tour 1985' or something like that. But I thought, no, no, no, you keep that out of there, because it'll just gobble up your scene, in addition to making me look like I was poaching, which I probably was."
In 1985, Ford wrote an article for Esquire titled "The Boss Observed"; you can read some of it online at Dwight Garner's ArtsBeat blog. Listening to Springsteen 30 years ago, Ford described being "moved to think that this is rock 'n' roll of a somewhat higher order than I’ve known up to now."
WILLIE NILE: ONE GUITAR, ONE PIANO
Dig Bruce Springsteen and Willie Nile at Light of Day on Saturday, performing Nile's "One Guitar" (and find more incredible hi-def fan video from the second row here). If you're not too familiar with Nile, we highly recommend checking out this singer-songwriter Little Steven has called "so good I can’t believe he's not from New Jersey." The studio version of "One Guitar" can be found on his 2010 album The Innocent Ones, with a re-recording ("One Guitar v2.0") on a digital special edition of 2013's American Ride.
Willie's new record, If I Was a River, came out in November and was recently on an Associated Press list of "top-notch albums you may have overlooked in 2014." It's a departure for Nile, a piano record — recorded on a Steinway Grand that was at the Record Plant in Manhattan for years, which you can hear Willie talking about here. "All the great people who recorded at the Record Plant: Bruce Springsteen, Randy Newman played it, Elton John, David Bowie, John Lennon played it as well. It has a very rich, deep tone. So I made this piano album that I'd been hoping to make for years, and it just so happened that this piano... happened to be in the studio where I was to make this album. The irony for me is that it's the same piano I played 34 years ago at the Record Plant the night John Lennon was killed. He was in Studio C and I was in Studio A." You can watch the video for the title track on YouTube, and purchase the new CD from Nile's online store. - January 20, 2015
BRUCE BACK AGAIN FOR LIGHT OF DAY 15 Springsteen plays with Willie Nile, LaBamba, Southside, Grushecky & more
On paper, the main event show of Light of Day 15 at Asbury Park's Paramount Theatre was mostly a modest, local affair amongst friends, with longtime Jersey Shore artists like John Eddie, Billy Hector, Vini Lopez, Paul Whistler and Gary U.S. Bonds scattered throughout the bill. Even the main attraction, La Bamba's Big Band, was for many years an Asbury Park mainstay. But savvy followers of the Shore scene probably sensed that this was precisely the recipe for something extraordinary. With the Big Band — including former Jukes Richie "La Bamba" Rosenberg, Mark Pender, Bobby Bandiera and Eddie Manion — fronted by none other than Southside Johnny Lyon, the stage was set for an Asbury Park family reunion, and the boys did not disappoint. There amongst some of his oldest friends, Bruce Springsteen threw caution to the wind and delivered a good old-fashioned jam filled with covers and rarities and nostalgic looks into the past, flubs and wisecracks and laughter and, of all things, James Brown references.
With doors at 6 p.m., it was a long evening of entertainment, and most fans trickled in throughout the early part of the festivities. But latecomers missed some real gems — the edgy Delta blues of the remarkable Guy Davis, and the heartfelt performance of John Eddie, whose self-deprecating style belies a catalog of material that has only in the last decade garnered him the kind of national attention he has richly deserved all these years. They may have also missed a mini-reunion of Highway 9, the power pop band that ruled the scene in the early '90s, or the hard-edged street sound of veteran Garland Jeffreys, who paid tribute to his old friend Lou Reed with a set-closing "I'm Waiting for the Man."
Perennial Light of Day favorite Willie Nile can always be relied upon to get audiences going, and his brief, energetic set, including Jim Carroll's "People Who Died" and a dedication of his own "The Innocent Ones" to the victims of last week's terror attacks in France, proved a spirited call to arms. The anthemic "One Guitar" drew a not-so-surprise appearance by Bruce, who, dressed smartly in black jeans and fitted shirt, wandered on from stage left to contribute guitar and backing vocals.
Old friends Vini Lopez and Paul Whistler (who was a Shore mainstay in the 1970's with bands like The Wheels) followed up with their new project Dawg Whistle, a two-piece blues outfit whose all-original material is laced with sly references to their own shared past in an Asbury Park of yesteryear, including the playful "Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back."
And then it was time for the frenzied energy of Richie La Bamba and his infamous Big Band. Rosenberg and partner in crime Mark "The Loveman" Pender, notorious both for their stellar musical chops and high-energy hijinks as part of the Jukes horns, had both in full effect in a spirited set that was the highlight of the evening and gift to longtime fans.
The set opened with the usual music vamping by La Bamba and band — often billed as the 18 Pieces of Soul — with Mark Pender blasting out an extended trumpet lead, including a trademark move in which he holds a high note for what seems like an eternity, to which Richie responds in mock astonishment. And then out walked Southside Johnny to perform the Springsteen/Van Zandt tune "When You Dance," a tune that got left off the Jukes' I Don't Wanna Go Home way back when but later appeared on a "best of" CD. The Big Band's jump blues focus is right in the SSJ wheelhouse, and he was truly in his element, wailing on harp and bouncing around the stage in excitement.
And then came the unmistakable backbeat of the Gary U.S. Bonds 1960 hit "New Orleans." All eyes turned stage left, but Southside stayed at the center mic to sing lead vocals — which seemed unusual, Bonds being a billed performer for this set, but then not so much, as the mercurial Lyon habitually throws vintage, seemingly random covers into his sets on a nightly basis. This is a performer known for pulling audience leg on occasion, and there was no explanation of Bonds' absence. This was followed by "It Ain't the Meat (It's the Motion)" from the Jukes' debut album, which included a brief, animated display of Southside/La Bamba ballroom dance moves (SSJ leading, of course) and concluded with Lyon motioning to the horn section to sing part of the call-and-response vocals in unison instead of playing their various instruments. "I don't wanna hear any of that horn bullshit," he shouted by way of explanation. It was hilarious, a total Southside moment.
After the "surprise" of Bonds' failure to appear on what was his signature song, it was no great surprise when Bruce Springsteen returned to the stage to front the Big Band. After all, it was he who unofficially helped christen Rosenberg with his nickname back in the day. But there was a slight problem: Southside finally informed the audience that Gary U.S. Bonds had phoned in sick for the evening. But it was clear that the band had been rehearsing some of his material, and there had been no time to change up the setlist too much with so many moving parts. The result was a Springsteen performance that was for many a dream come true, as covers and rarities that older fans thought they would never live to see ensued.
First came "The Letter" performed a la Joe Cocker (Southside on lead vocals, Bruce on guitar) and then, after a few moments of discussion with Mr. Lyon, the jaw-dropper of the night: Bruce Springsteen performing "This Little Girl," the hit single he had written for Bonds nearly 35 years earlier but had never performed solo.
"I wrote it, but I don't know if I remember it," said Bruce, strumming his guitar tauntingly. But no worries: it was more or less note-perfect, a moment of pure pop joy that can seem all too rare in Springsteen's meticulously executed performances. Fans had barely time to catch their breath when the backbeat morphed into Jackie Wilson's "(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher," a tune occasionally covered by Bruce and the E Streeters but never with the Big Band horns. There were some issues — too many horn breaks, a key change that didn't quite jell — but no one seemed to mind. "Well, that died," said Bruce, smiling. And then, perhaps mixing his metaphors, he cracked, "No one follows James Brown. No one."
"It took two of us to completely fuck that up, two of us!" Bruce continued, to which Southside responded, "Yeah, and between the two of us, neither one of us is Jackie Wilson."
What could follow that priceless exchange but the Van Zandt classic "I Don't Want to Go Home," the two old friends trading vocals as the horns wailed behind them. "Yeah, the two of us used to sit and watch movies in this place," said Bruce after the song concluded. "Who knew?"
The traditional Springsteen/Houserockers set was now to follow, but it would prove difficult to match the pure magic of what had just transpired. First up was a solo Bruce on acoustic, and another relative rarity: the Born in the U.S.A.-era B-side "Janey Don't You Lose Heart," which was given a tender, romantic reading on the darkened stage, a lone spotlight shining above. This was followed by Grushecky & Co. (augmented by Eddie Manion on tenor saxophone) on the always-intense "Adam Raised a Cain." The presence of the Kingfish onstage must have been too tempting to not take advantage of, however, as Bruce began to pace back and forth across the front of the stage in full preacher mode: "How much love do you have in your [bank] account?" he shouted, repeating the exhortation several times for effect. "How much LOVE?"
And with that, the band kicked into the rarely-performed "Savin' Up," a Springsteen-penned tune performed by soul man J.T. Bowen on C.C. & the Red Bank Rockers' Rescue album but only a handful of times by Bruce himself. It was a raucous, loose performance, punctuated with impromptu bits including Bruce, James Brown still on his mind, exhorting the band to "take it to the bridge." And then another singularity, the Chuck Berry homage "From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)." Always a fan favorite, it's a song that mostly shows up in club jams; tonight it was another gift to longtime fans but seemed to be unrecognized by a fair number of those in attendance. This was followed by a Springsteen/Grushecky duet on "Never Be Enough Time."
Things then slowed down as Bruce donned his harp and began the opening riff of "Racing in the Street '78", aptly supported by the Houserockers but somewhat missing the signature Roy Bittan keyboard part. Photographer and friend Danny Clinch then stepped on to contribute his own harp licks on Grushecky's "Pumping Iron," which was followed by a somewhat hoarse "Darkness on the Edge of Town."
And then Joe turned to address Bruce. "Fifteen years, we been doing this," he said. "Fifteen years. We were just whippersnappers then." The self-deprecating "Still Look Good (For Sixty)" ensued, the two good-naturedly trading wisecrack lines about wrinkles and unwanted hair. This was followed by "Frankie Fell in Love," a newish song world-premiered at last year's Light of Day main event. This was succeeded by another fan favorite and another rare performance: "Hearts of Stone," also premiered (by Bruce, anyway) at last year's event. By this time, it was late and everyone was tired, so it sounded just a bit off, but no one seemed to mind.
And then, as the trademark glockenspiel riff echoed behind him, Bruce introduced "Save My Love" (yet another rarity that seems to mostly show up at this type of show) by talking about its origin. "I wrote this for the Darkness record, but it would've fit really well on Born to Run." He recalled the heyday of Top 40 radio, a time that when you were listening to a song, everyone else was hearing it too. "It was 1975, and I was on a road trip upstate somewhere, a little college in Rhode Island, and I was standing on a corner and a car pulled up. They rolled the window down, and 'Spirit in the Night' was playing on the radio." It was a powerful moment for him, he said, "a feeling I've never forgotten. It seemed like affirmation" of everything he had been working for until that point.
This now-rare moment of personal reflection harkened back to Bruce's glory days with the E Street Band, when it seemed almost every song came with a story attached. And the night could have ended right there, but there was more yet to come, including Grushecky's "Talking to the King," after which Joe went over to speak to Bruce. "Oh yeah," Bruce smiled. "I almost forgot. Are any of those guys still here, Willie, John Eddie? Come on out." The two wandered on obligingly and planted themselves stage left to sing backing vocals as the piano intro to "Because the Night" began echoing throughout the building. Finally, here was one the audience could — and did — sing along with. And, house lights up, the sing-along portion of the program continued, as various Light of Day performers assembled on the stage for the de rigueur group performance of the event's theme song.
"Yeah, La Bamba," said Bruce afterward. He still seemed surprised and pleased at how that impromptu portion of the night had gone, at the reunion of old friends many of whom had last shared the stage at the Jukes' live performance of Little Steven's Men Without Women several years back. "I just saw him face down in the alley a half hour ago. How'd he get here?" he cracked, adjusting the acoustic guitar handed to him by longtime tech Kevin Buell.
"Thunder Road," now seemingly reinvented as an audience tribute/sing-along, followed, after which event founder Bob Benjamin, who had been standing amongst the large crowd now onstage, was brought to the mic. After some words from Bruce about the history of Light of Day and the inspiration that Benjamin has been to him all these years and a response in kind from Bob, many thought the long night of surprises was finally done. But it seemed that only one more song could end this unique event. "Let's do one more," he shouted to the masses onstage; it was a sing-along of "The Promised Land" that would finally conclude the marathon evening.
And so a night that had looked fairly conventional at face value instead became a night of rarities, a loose, fun-filled evening of old friends and shared history that pushed Bruce Springsteen out of his comfort zone and into one of the most spirited performances in recent memory. - Lisa Iannucci reporting
For Springsteen's full setlist from this and other recent performances,
see our Setlists page
- January 18, 2015 - Lisa Iannucci reporting - photographs by A.M. Saddler
2015 ASBURY ANGELS INDUCTEES CELEBRATED AT LIGHT OF DAY There was a packed house at the Stone Pony last night for the announcement of the 2015 crop of Asbury Angels during a special Light of Day event. This year's group of honorees includes a pair of frontmen — Walter Cichon of the Motifs and John Oeser of Cahoots — and the visionaries behind The Wonder Bar and the original Mrs. Jay’s (now the Stone Pony).
Here's the complete list of the Class of 2015:
John Oeser[above] – Lead singer and percussionist, Cahoots, Timepiece, Boccigalupe & the Bad Boys
Ahna Loehr Tesche Parker Reimers – Keyboard prodigy and member of The Stardusters, featured band in the Anchor Room at Asbury Park's Lake Park Hotel. Built the Wonder Bar.
Walter Cichon[right] – Lead singer of the Motifs, described by Bruce Springsteen as "the first person I ever stood in the presence of who was filled with the mystique of the true rock star."
Vivian Eley – Singer, dancer and Broadway star
Sammy Pugh – Blind classically trained pianist who was a fixture on the Springwood Avenue club scene
John & Ida Jacobs and JeanetteJacob Weiner – Creators/operators of Mrs. Jay’s Restaurant and Beer Garden
Joe "Bop" Tomek – Drummer with Mushroom and several other bands Asbury Park-based bands.
Walter Reade Sr. – Theater mogul/developer of the St. James and Paramount Theatres
- January 17, 2015 - Lisa Iannucci reporting - Oeser photography by John Cavanaugh - Cichon photograph courtesy of VVMF.org
AFTER 34 YEARS, MEADOWLANDS ARENA IN ITS LAST DAYS
Whatever name you know it by, the Izod Center means something to you if you’re a Bruce Springsteen fan. Built for the New Jersey Nets National Basketball Association franchise in 1981, the arena also became the home of the National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils a year later when they moved from Colorado. But over the years the arena became synonymous with something else entirely: it was the site of more Bruce Springsteen concerts than any other venue. The arena had not fared well in recent years, however, as newer facilities were built in the area. A 2005 USA Today poll saw it voted the worst arena in the NBA. The Devils played their last game at the arena in 2007, and the Nets final game there was in 2010. The building has seen little activity in recent years and has been operating at a loss; following a vote by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority yesterday, the news came that the arena will be closed down by the end of the month.
When it first opened its doors on July 2, 1981, the new venue in East Rutherford, New Jersey was known as the Brendan Byrne Arena. (New Jersey's outgoing governor apparently saw no problem with naming the building after himself.) The arena became commonly known as the Meadowlands Arena even though the name was not officially changed until Continental Airlines purchased the naming rights in 1996. Tickets for the 1981 Springsteen shows that opened the arena listed the venue as the Byrne Meadowlands Arena; by the time Bruce returned in 1984 the tickets simply read Meadowlands Arena. The name was changed again in 2007 to the Izod Center.
The six shows that served as the arena's grand opening in 1981 were followed by ten in 1984, 11 in 1992, a benefit show to fight hunger in 1993, 15 in 1999, a single show and a public rehearsal show in 2002, the Vote For Change concert in 2004, and three shows each in 2005 and 2007. With the name changed to the Izod Center, Bruce was there twice in 2009 and twice again in 2012. He played a total of 56 concerts in the building under its various names — 28 at the Brendan Byrne (Meadowlands) Arena, 24 at the Continental Airlines Arena, and four at the Izod Center during the building's nearly 34 year history. Additionally, Springsteen appeared as a surprise guest at the Holiday Express Christmas concert there in 2001. (Neighboring Giants Stadium has also figured into Bruce's plans over the years with 24 shows. After the stadium was demolished in 2010, Bruce returned in 2012 for three shows in the new MetLife Stadium.)
Fans from all over the world to made the pilgrimage to the Meadowlands to see Bruce at what became known as his home arena. It was not unusual to see the flags of many nations flying in the parking lot before a Bruce Springsteen concert in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Under its three (or four) names the venerable arena was the site of some of the most memorable live performances of Bruce Springsteen's career. Whether you lived nearby and headed there after work, or flew halfway around the world to get there, the Meadowlands was the place to experience a Bruce Springsteen concert.
- January 16, 2015 - Robert Bader reporting
GRAMMY WATCH: MIGHTY MAX ON A RECORD IN THE RUNNING
While all eyes are on Asbury Park this weekend, no matter what goes down at the Paramount Theater we're just a few weeks out from Bruce Springsteen's next scheduled performance. Three weeks from tonight, he'll be honoring Bob Dylan at the MusiCares Person of the Year concert that is part of Grammy weekend.
No Grammy nominations for Springsteen himself this year, but there is an E Street horse in the race: Max Weinberg drummed on saxophonist Mindi Abair's Wild Heart, nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. Max and Mindi have played together numerous times, and in 2011 they even backed Springsteen together on "Spirit in the Night" at Stand Up for Heroes [video here]. "Max means every note he plays," says Abair. "Playing Clarence Clemons' parts with him and Bruce made me delve deeper inside myself — just go for broke and let everything out. I wanted that abandon for my record."
"I didn't want to be John Coltrane when I was a kid, I wanted to be Clarence Clemons," Abair said in an interview with Life + Times. She also told the Jazz Times, "If given the chance to bring Charlie Parker back from the dead and play with him or to play with Bruce Springsteen, I'm probably the 1 percent of sax players who would say Bruce. But that's what makes the world go 'round." - January 16, 2015
LIGHT OF DAY: FRIDAY ON MY MIND
Backstreets is happy to report that our friend and longtime SiriusXM Radio DJ Jim Rotolo will be participating in this year's Light of Day festivities in Asbury Park. On Friday night, Jim will be taking his popular The Wild and the Innocent all-request show to the Stone Pony as part of the evening's Asbury Angels induction festivities.
"I'm thrilled to be broadcasting my show and hosting the Light of Day Winterfest 2015 Asbury Angels event," says Rotolo, who will be presenting his friends Ten Ton Mojo as part of the evening’s lineup.
The Wild and the Innocent will be broadcast live at its usual 6 p.m. time slot. Tickets are still available via Ticketmaster; if you can’t make it down, tune in to E Street Radio at SiriusXM Channel 20. - January 14, 2015 - Lisa Iannucci reporting
JAKE READS CLARENCE FOR NEW BIG MAN AUDIOBOOK In the afterglow of New Jersey's second annual official Clarence Clemons Day this past weekend (on what would have been Clarence's 73rd birthday,) photographer Michael Zorn shares with us this beautiful, previously unpublished photo of the Big Man. See Instagram for the story behind the shot. And released just in time for Clarence Clemons Day is Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales, the Audible.com unabridged audiobook edition. Jake Clemons reads all of his uncle's parts (on both the white and the gray pages) while actor Gregory Abbey reads Don Reo's contributions and Bruce Springsteen's foreword. No definitive word yet on whether a CD version will be available, but a digital download can be purchased right now by clicking here, where you also can hear a sample of Jake's and Gregory's readings. - January 12, 2015 - Shawn Poole reporting - photograph by Michael Zorn
GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK: LIGHT OF DAY 2015 PREVIEW
With its ever-growing list of venues and performers and extended concert schedule, and benefit concerts in Canada and Europe to boot, Light of Day continues to attract concertgoers from near and far year after year. But Asbury Park once again becomes the focus beginning this Sunday at the Stone Pony as Light of Day Winterfest 2015 will kick off with a second annual "Cover Me" event highlighting New Jersey's bar band tradition. Featuring a reunion of former Stone Pony house band Cats on a Smooth Surface, the event will assemble many familiar faces, including Glen Burtnik and Bobby Bandiera as well as founding members Harry Filkin and Joel Krauss — with his daughter Alexis (of Sleigh Bells) sitting in.
Other highlights of Light of Day week at the Jersey Shore include the return of Asbury Underground, which features acoustic pop-up sets by 36 musicians at various venues in downtown Asbury Park on Saturday January 17. Billed as a "Downtown Art and Music Crawl," the popular event winds its way through 15 art galleries, coffee shops, and retail stores, with attendees following along at their leisure using maps or the Asbury Underground app.
Also of interest is a free Thursday evening set by Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens at Asbury Yacht Club on the Asbury Park boardwalk. DiNizio has just completed a residency at nearby Langosta Lounge as part of his Confessions of a Rock Star project. And Friday evening the 16th brings the annual Asbury Angels event at the Stone Pony, with a lineup including Steve Conte NYC, Bruce Tunkel, The Weeklings featuring Glen Burtnik and the ever-popular James Maddock, with Boccigalupe and the Bad Boys rounding out the night.
Of course, the highlight of the week for everyone is the perennially sold out Main Event show at the Paramount Theater on Saturday night, the 17th [above, LOD founder Bob Benjamin takes the mic at last year's big Saturday night show]. This year's lineup is a treat for Asbury Jukes fans, as longtime trombonist Richie "La Bamba" Rosenberg brings his legendary Big Band back to Asbury Park with his former bandleader and cohort Southside Johnny joining the festivities. Also on the bill along with headliner Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers are returning favorites like John Eddie and Willie Nile, along with Vini Lopez and Paul Whistler's new band Dawg Whistle and former BoDean Sam Llanas.
The Winterfest concludes on Sunday January 18 with a series of acoustic shows at various boardwalk venues — always an excellent opportunity to wind down after a hectic week of shows — and a "Last Note" show at The Saint feauring local favorite Quincy Mumford. Tickets are still available for most events — visit the Light of Day events page for details. - January 8, 2015 - Lisa Iannucci reporting - photograph by Terry Camp
FIRST ANNUAL LINCOLN AWARD EVENT HONORS SPRINGSTEEN The Lincoln Awards: A Concert for Veterans & the Military Family was held last night at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. This will be an annual event to honor service to our military veterans, with awards given each year in ten categories: Veteran, Citizen, Public Service, Medical & Science, Caregiver, Entertainer, Artistic, Standard Bearer, Non-Profit Citizen and Corporate Citizen. In this first year, Bruce Springsteen received the Lincoln Award for Entertainer. Last night the concert itself showcased the honorees and was interspersed with music and comedy performances; Bruce did not attend, though there was a bit of an E Street presence as Ms. Cindy Mizelle was part of the house band.
Brian Williams, Springsteen's good friend and fellow New Jerseyan, was MC for the night and introduced Bruce's tribute (with the usual chorus of Brooocing from the crowd). Williams said that they were holding out hope until the last minute that the man himself would be able to attend, but no such luck; he said that Bruce expressed his thanks and sent congratulations to his fellow honorees. Brian went on to talk about Bruce's contributions to the military community, speaking of his music as resonating across generations of those serving in the military. They went on to play a photo/video montage depicting Springsteen's involvement with veterans and their families, including a short video clip of his homage to the servicemen and women at Stand Up For Heroes. Below is the text from the program; much of this was used as well in the video tribute. All in all, another significant honor for Bruce to add to his collection.
Entertainer: Recognizing outstanding achievement and excellence in supporting and giving back to veterans as a performer
Rock star Bruce Springsteen has been a strong supporter of veterans for several decades, having dedicated many of his tracks and live performances to Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). His work with VVA began in his early years, when the organization was struggling to gain financial support. In the summer of 1981 Mr. Springsteen dedicated all of the proceeds of one of his sold-out concerts to the organization and its work, and he has continued to show this support throughout his life and his music. His commitment to veterans has been expressed in themes that run through his extensive body of work, with songs like "Long Walk Home," "Lost in the Flood," "Devils & Dust" and "The Wall" inspiring and touching the lives of millions of military families. He has also performed benefit shows devoted to Veterans, including the 2014 Concert for Valor on the National Mall, raising money for, and spreading awareness of, our wounded servicemen all over the United States. It's rumored that when Bob Woodruff woke up from a coma after 36 days, he asked his wife, Lee, when the "guitar man" would come to see him. Apparently Lee, cajoling her comatose husband, had said Bruce Springsteen was coming to visit. Through their friends, this story got back to Mr. Springsteen, and he has been both an inspiration and crucial part of the Bob Woodruff Foundation since it was founded eight years ago. Mr. Springsteen has donated his time, resources, and talents to the Foundation's Stand Up For Heroes event and also supports the Foundation's other work with post-9/11 injured veterans and their families.
- January 8, 2015
SPRINGSTEEN TO PLAY MUSICARES CONCERT HONORING DYLAN, FEB 6
Bruce Springsteen has some history with the MusiCares concert that's part of Grammy Week: he performed at the event to honor James Taylor in 2006, and in 2013 Bruce himself was feted as MusiCares Person of the Year. This year's honoree is Bob Dylan, and the Recording Academy has announced that Springsteen will also perform at this 25th annual benefit on February 6 at the L.A. Convention Center. Our best guess: "Like a Rolling Stone" with a cheerleading squad. - January 7, 2015
BIG SALE THIS WEEK ONLY: 15% OFF ALL BOOKS IN STOCK!
Even if you were good and Santa brought you exactly what you wanted, chances are we've still got something on our Boss bookshelf the old man didn't know about. So here's a deal for you: now through Friday, save 15% off every book in stock at Backstreet Records. Just use the coupon code NEWYEARNEWBOOKS and the discount will be calculated at checkout.
And if the book is already on sale, you'll get 15% off the sale price, too. Check out all books here — this week's discount applies to every last one of 'em, songbooks too. Now through Friday. Happy new year! - January 5, 2015
GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK: BIG MAN B'DAY BASH & MORE
With another holiday season in the books, it's time to look forward to a busy 2015 music calendar at the Jersey Shore. First up is Saturday's Third Annual Big Man's Birthday Bash at Bar Anticipation in Lake Como, NJ. This year's event, which benefits the Hometown Heroes project, will be a daylong celebration hosted by the ever-present Vincent Pastore. The main lineup features Shore stalwarts the Eddie Testa Band, JoBonanno and the Godsons and The Sensational Soul Cruisers assisted by a long list of special guests including Gene Cornish of The Rascals, Vini Lopez, Bobby Bandiera, J.T. Bowen, Norman Seldin, and John Cafferty. Visit the TicketLeap event page for complete lineup and ticket information.
And then there's Light of Day 2015, which runs from Jan. 9-18 at wide variety of venues throughout New York and New Jersey (full preview to come). The main event show at Asbury Park's Paramount Theatre is sold out, but tickets are available for all other events; visit Light of Day website for information.
Finally, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes have just announced a pair of February shows at the Stone Pony. Aside from their annual Fourth of July extravaganza, the Jukes rarely perform at at their old stomping grounds, and last year decided to schedule special theme nights at the Pony as a treat for the fans. This year's model features a showcase of Jukes rarities on night one followed by an evening of Bruce Springsteen material specially selected and arranged by Southside "the way we hear it. Just because." Tickets now onsale via Ticketmaster or at the Stone Pony box office. - January 5, 2015 - Lisa Iannucci reporting
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.
Clickbait: on those Bruce Coming to Dublin rumors [Irish Times]
Roy Bittan discusses many of his off-E Street collaborations with Rolling Stone
Springsteen covered by women: The best of the best, part 2 [NJArts.net]
Springsteen covered by women: The best of the best [NJArts.net]
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.