COVID-19 BENEFIT TICKETS TO COST "A SHIT-TON OF MONEY"
Because we need a shit-ton of money
Bruce Springsteen is no stranger to answering the call to help neighbors, and the current pandemic finds him banding together with fellow Shore musicians for a one-night-only benefit performance at the Stone Pony. Bobby Bandiera, Patti Scialfa, and Southside Johnny join him on the April 12 bill. While six feet of separation must be maintained between concertgoers,"The House That Bruce Built" is sure to be filled to its reduced capacity.
Even at a million dollars a head.
Conceding that the ticket price would raise a few eyebrows, Springsteen told Rolling Stone, "We've always tried to keep our ticket prices reasonable, but I think there's a time for economic equitability, and, frankly, there's a time to raise a shit-ton of money. If I can play '634-5789' and make enough scratch to get everyone in New Jersey a ventilator? Fund WhyHunger for a year? Keep all the bartenders paid til this shit blows over? I used to say 'We don't play no private parties' — that was a different time."
As for the Easter Sunday scheduling, Springsteen says it was mostly based upon the timeline suggested by the president. But he also admits with a laugh: "It did occur to me, a show on Easter… that'll show 'em back at St. Rose of Lima's!"
While entry will prove costly, Springsteen and his management are convinced that well-heeled fans will pay whatever it takes to get in — especially after the announcement that each showgoer would leave with a sheetpan of Adele Springsteen's lasagna — and a chance to win a home kitchen clean-up by Jon Bon Jovi.
"You think the Ranney School and Boston College benefits had folks turning over the couch cushions? Just you wait," says Springsteen manager Jon Landau, referring to this event as "a continuation of the conversation Bruce has been having with his fans — though, granted, the age of 'dynamic pricing' alters the conversation a bit."
Progressives Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders issued a joint statement regarding such an event planned exclusively for the ultra-rich: "Actually, we're cool with this one. Can we tape from the sidewalk?"
- April 1, 2020
NEW E STREET ALBUM ON HOLD AS BAND TRIES TO FIGURE OUT ZOOM
Work on a new Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band album has come to an abrupt halt as band members struggle to navigate the videoconferencing app Zoom.
"Bruce has got it, and Max is on audio," reports Jon Landau via an exclusive interview that timed out after 40 minutes. "Garry's camera is pointing at his ceiling fan, Nils keeps getting that godawful echoey-feedback thing, and Charlie is just fucking around with virtual backgrounds the entire time," Landau groans, adding, "See, here he is now in the Seinfeld apartment. He did this shit pretty much all throughout the Seeger Sessions, too."
Landau has been in contact with the entire band, urging them to immediately consult with grandchildren, neighborhood millennials, or the Roots. "Pretty much anyone who might be able to assist. Jake tried to ask for help on Nextdoor and ended up buying a pool table and, like, 50 bags of water softener salt."
Still, Landau and Springsteen remain optimistic. "We're confident that with the assistance of tech support, we'll pull through this as a band — oh, great, now Charlie's on the Death Star. You know what? Screw it. We'll just do the U.S.A. box."
Landau says his biggest concern continues to be Stevie Van Zandt posting dances on TikTok.
- April 1, 2020
CDC RECOMMENDS WASHING YOUR HANDS FOR AS MUCH OF "BLINDED BY THE LIGHT" AS YOU CAN POSSIBLY REMEMBER
According to the latest U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, you must wash your hands for at least 20 seconds to maintain good hygiene. But as the pandemic worsens, 20 seconds may not seem like enough, and new circumstances call for new recommendations. Just sing the words to this ditty in your head as you wash — piece of cake!
- April 1, 2020
NEW NETFLIX SPECIAL IS LITERALLY JUST BRUCE READING STUFF
With tour on hold, streaming service answers fan demand for anything at all
After numerous calls in recent weeks for Bruce Springsteen to do... "Something! Anything right now! I'd even pay to hear him read the phone book!," a press release today from Shore Fire Media reveals that Springsteen's forthcoming Netflix series will feature the Boss doing just that.
Titled Names and Numbers, the new Netflix series captures Springsteen and his stylish dad-spectacles embarking on a journey through the entirety of the Mahwah, NJ White Pages from 1982. If you've loved hearing Springsteen shout "One, two, three, four," just wait until you hear such sequences as, "Five-five-five, four-seven-three-nine!"
The series is helmed by Springsteen's longtime film archivist, go-to director and collaborator Thom Zimny. "It's definitely a shelter-in-place production," Zimny tells Backstreets. "No camera crew, just me and my iPhone, shooting from a good ten feet away. At first I was struggling with how we'd tell this particular story in a new way, but then Jon [Landau] whispered in my ear: 'Peckinpah.' That was just the inspiration I needed."
While the bulk of the new show's content is derived solely from vintage telephonic anthologies, Springsteen still makes time for impromptu stories and asides. In an advance peek at Episode 1 ("Aa - Be"), an inspired and hilarious diversion into a discussion of "coronalingus" is alone worth the price of subscribing. Springsteen makes sure to define the term for the younger set: "Please remember to wash your hands vigorously with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, and practice social distancing."
"In many ways, Names and Numbers continues the conversation Springsteen and his fans have been having for decades," states manager Jon Landau in today's press release. "Whether it's a phone call on Sunday, putting his ear close to the phone, trying to find a payphone, or calling one last time, Bruce's music has been all about making that connection. In this case you also get addresses and, plus, alphabetical order."
The eight-episode first season of Names and Numbers drops on Friday, with future seasons planned to delve into historical Ma Bell directories from Youngstown, OH; Galveston, TX; and Lincoln, NE. Along the way, we'll get shout-outs to Mary, Johnny, Billy, and Bobby — one has to think, eventually — as well as E Street, Flamingo Lane, and Tenth Avenue. At some point, we would imagine, odds being what they are.
- April 1, 2020
LITTLE STEVEN TO DONATE PERSONALIZED N95 BABUSHKAS TO MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS
Hold on. They're comin'.
Steven Van Zandt is donating 90% of his massive babushka inventory to be refurbished and repurposed as badly-needed masks for health professionals. "We're gonna turn 'em into essential, practical, yet fashionable accessories," tweets Van Zandt, "for the coolest docs and nurses on the planet, baby!"
Known for wearing colorful scarves and bandanas on stage, Stevie realized he could use his vast collection to make a difference. "Plus, all the Marie Kondo stuff Maureen's been having me read. It'll be good to declutter while doing a solid, you know?"
All of Van Zandt's 100% cotton fabric scarves and bandanas once filled five entire warehouses in Union City, New Jersey.
"Thank heavens we're no longer a band that wears hats," he says.
Van Zandt also informed us that Bruce Springsteen, in a move of solidarity, will be donating to Steven's cause a large, never-opened crate of his own unused Born in the U.S.A.-era bandanas. "If they could survive the summer sweat in Milan and Gothenburg," Stevie says, "you know they're ready for the streets of New York City, baby."
- April 1, 2020
"BRUCE THRILL" TO OPEN EXOTIC PONY PARADISE
Singer, songwriter, rock 'n' roller… Broadway star… best-selling author… feature film director… even in his 70s, Bruce Springsteen is never one to rest on his laurels. Now we can add nature preserve proprietor to that list, as Springsteen readies the opening of Thrill Hill Boss Man's Exotic Pony Boy Paradise.
"We've got a hundred-year-old barn on the property," Springsteen says in a promotional video for his new venture, shot on location on his farm in Colts Neck, New Jersey. "It's filled with the best kinds of ghosts and spirits — and more horses than you can shake a motherfuckin' stick at."
The Boss Man himself will be leading pony rides for the kids, and showing little daredevils exactly where behind a horse to stand, if you wanna find out what a real "pony face" looks like.
So if in your dreams bareback you ride, you'll be thrilled to see the wild and rare horses on display — and ready for ropin', ridin', kickin' and cuddlin'.
"We got us a Appaloosa," says the newly monikered Bruce Thrill, counting off on his remaining fingers, "an Irish stallion, a mustang o' course, a big ol' Arabian, and a Silver Palomino, sixteen hands from her withers to the ground."
"There's also a pale horse comin'," he adds. "And I'm gonna ride it."
You can too, just as soon as this dang quarantine is over — throw your saddle in, and go on down to Thrill Hill Boss Man's Exotic Pony Boy Paradise, and feel like a King on a white horse.
Just steer clear, for now, of Billy Joel's Long Island Llama Sanctuary, judging by the steely glint in Bruce Thrill's eye. "That fuckin' pretender'll get what's comin' to him, mark my words."
- April 1, 2020
NILS LOFGREN HAS NOW LEARNED HOW TO PLAY ALL OF THE INSTRUMENTS
Some good news and bad news coming from Arizona: the great Nils Lofgren, thankfully, is stocked up, locked down, social distancing and making excellent use of his time during the Covid-19 crisis.
Unfortunately, he has also completely run out of new instruments to learn.
"That was it," Nils says in a new video clip, pointing up at the eight-foot-tall double contrabass flute next to him. "That's the last of 'em. From Agida [a type of Caribbean membranophone] to Zither, I've come to the end."
Already considered one of the greatest guitarists America has produced, Lofgren has long been proficient as a multi-instrumentalist, adept on both rhythm and lead guitar, piano, accordion, harp, mandolin, trampoline, and banjo. He famously taught himself how to play pedal steel for an E Street Band tour. Now, as of last night, there is literally nothing he can't play.
"End of the line," he says with a wistful sigh, running his nimble fingers up and down the neck of his bouzouki, with the fluid dexterity of one who has been playing Rebetiko music for years. But he also perks up when noting some of his favorite new discoveries from the past month of complete and utter instrumental mastery.
"The Heckelphone is really something. As is the Sackbut. Theremin, of course, is always a wacky time. Remembering which is which of the Mellophone, the Melodica, and the Melodeon still kinda trips me up… but get it in my hands, and I can play it.
"The Harry Partch stuff may have been the biggest challenge," the E Streeter continues, referring to the late inventor, composer and musical iconoclast who created his own instruments. "You know, getting those things in the first place — the Chromelodeon, the Quadrangularis Reversum — and then learning his 43-tone scale? That was a long weekend for sure!
"But I can play the entirety of After the Gold Rush on each of them."
Looking ahead to at least another month of isolation, Nils maintains a positive outlook. "I mean, I've learned them all… but I can always practice. That's really my thing. Practice, practice, practice. Practice."
"And if I really need a new challenge, I'll see how many of these I can play while spinning a basketball on one finger."
- April 1, 2020
CATCHING UP WITH ANTHONY FAUCI AND CHRISTINE GRADY
Duo moonlights in Springsteen cover band "Lady and the Doctor"
Long before Covid-19 made Dr. Anthony Fauci an esteemed figure on the world stage, he and his wife Christine Grady had carved a place of their own at the Stone Pony. There, they've appeared regularly as a duo in their Springsteen cover band: Lady and the Doctor.
Right: Dr. Fauci, seen here with his wife Christine Grady during better days performing "Better Days" as Lady and the Doctor at the Stone Pony in 2019.
Grady, a nurse who fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic in the early '80s, says, "We really want to get back to performing Bruce songs for the fans."
Before the bars and restaurants officially shut down, social distancing had already kept crowds to a minimum, as Grady recalls. "When we do a somber Bruce song, Tony always leads with the Bruce palate cleanser of 'We need a little quiet for this one.' At our last show we were able to keep that vibe for the rest of the set because, well, quite frankly, no one was there. That let us visit the more poignant Bruce songs we don't usually play — right before everything officially closed."
Backstreets caught up with Dr. Fauci in between press conferences last week. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says his naturally raspy voice lends itself well to Springsteen's vocal stylings. However, some songs prove to be out of his range. "As much as I hum 'Countin' on a Miracle' literally every waking moment these days, I can't hit the falsetto. So it stays off the setlist."
Their spring dates for the Stone Pony will be rescheduled, possibly as early as late April, though more likely no sooner than May, with June, July, and August not off the table. "On the bright side," says the top infectious disease expert in the country, "it gives us a chance to come up with some new merch."
- April 1, 2020
GARRY TALLENT SAYS "YES!" TO '70s-INSPIRED SOLO LP
E Street Band co-founder Garry Tallent has announced his third solo album, the follow-up to Break Time, which was inspired by his favorite music from the '50s, and More Like Me, which was steeped in the garage and psych sounds of the '60s. Fully committing to the series, Tallent has now moved on to the Me Decade, with an album of original tunes inspired by his favorite music of the 1970s. And of course, that means prog, prog, prog.
On the new double album Outre Palace of Genuflecting Orbs (or OPGO), Tallent embraces his love of complicated time signatures, showy soloing, outlandish ideas and outsized songs. Lead single "Il Radiatore Implicato" (or, "The Implicated Radiator") is the most accessible of the bunch, at just under seven minutes, but the heart of the record comes on its second-LP suite "Nashville Khatru" — an opus that spans two sides of vinyl.
"Progressive music, to me, was just where it was at," Tallent tells Backstreets. "That's what was happening. If your record in the '70s didn't have an Overture at the start and Roman numerals along the way, I just wasn't listening."
- April 1, 2020
CUOMO DEMANDS IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF ELECTRIC NEBRASKA
Speaking on his brother Chris' CNN news program Cuomo Prime Time, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested that the societal effects of social isolation could be considerably more devastating unless and until Bruce Springsteen releases the electric version of Nebraska.
"We need you, Bruce," said Gov. Cuomo. "With millions of Springsteen fans homebound and looking for something to celebrate, in the New York area and beyond, it is my express opinion that the release of the electric Nebraska would go a long way to uniting us as a nation," a passionate Cuomo told CNN. "Without the release of the electric Nebraska, we could be looking at another 12 to 18 months of continuing to wonder if this thing is even real."
"Max once described you guys as 'killing' it on this. But you know what? You're killing me right now." Cuomo added, "Also, it's been almost 40 years — what the hell are we even waiting for?"
Cuomo, in split screen with Cuomo, went on for nine minutes before his brother finally got a word in: "Who knew you even liked Bruce? I thought you were a John Legend guy!"
The exchange that followed grew a bit confusing, with one Cuomo — or was it the other? — contending that, yes, in fact, side one of Born in the U.S.A. is electric Nebraska. "And 'Pink Cadillac," Cuomo said, "don't forget the B-sides."
As the Cuomos traded barbs for the remainder of the hour, President Trump took to Twitter to express his distaste for the idea: "The FAKE Electranical Nebraska is a boring and low-energy hit job," he tweeted, adding that Bruce Springsteen does not exist.
- April 1, 2020
ROY REFUSES TO ISOLATE… THESE AMAZING RECIPES!
YouTube's Bitten with Bittan helps take a bite out of cabin fever
Don't miss the all-new episode of Bitten with Bittan on Professor Roy's popular YouTube channel. This week, helping keep us all well-fed while in lockdown, Roy shows the basics of an easy, quarantine-friendly Steamed Coconut Pandan Cake.
The Professor always keeps it fun in the kitchen, citing only his iconic live E Street piano solos for cooking times. Not sure how long that Clafoutis should stay in the oven? Roy suggests baking for the duration of his "Kitty's Back" piano solo from the Aug 31, 2003 Giants Stadium show.
Don't forget to like and subscribe!
- April 1, 2020
BOB CLEARMOUNTAIN'S SUPERB NEW VISTA
Springsteen collaborates with long-time mixer on new LP
When Springsteen producer Ron Aniello and mix master Bob Clearmountain posted pictures on social media of remote work being done in different studios, message boards lit up. Longtime fan-page know-it-alls immediately began to speculate: is this the new E Street Band album? Or the long-rumored 246 song follow-up to Tracks? Or even the first Patti Scialfa solo album in 13 years?
Backstreets has learned what the pair have been working on — with considerable input from Bruce Springsteen — is actually Bob Clearmountain's debut solo album, On a Clear Mountain You Can Sing Forever.
The album is said to contain at least 46 songs, all of which are covers. A source reports that multi-instrumentalist Aniello handles most of those duties, confirming that Springsteen does appear twice on the project, covering an extended drum solo on "Misty (Clear) Mountain Hop" and handclaps on "(Clear) Mountain of Love." The source reported that at least a "couple of the folks from the Sessions Band have been in, but there are so many that we forget all the names."
Other songs we can confirm as of today:
- "Ain't No (Clear) Mountain High Enough"
- "Go Tell It on the (Clear) Mountain"
- "River Deep, (Clear) Mountain High"
- and a 68-minute version of the Grateful Dead's "Fire on the (Clear) Mountain."
When pressed as to why the duo are working in separate studios, our source was
forced to confess that "they simply don’t like each other."
- April 1, 2020
FEELING UNDER THE GUN? LET STEVIE BRING YOU CALM
To offer relief to homebound fans during social isolation, Stevie Van Zandt has partnered with the self-care app Calm to release a series of personal meditations.
"I want to let you know what time it is," Steven says, "and that is the time to relax, unwind, and get in touch with your inner Soulfire."
With titles like "Listen Groovy Baby (We Gonna Make It, Alright)," "Let's Rock It Through This Together, Daddy-O," and "Hop in the Back Seat of My Baby Blue '57 Chevy and We'll Hit the Highway to Chilltown City," each meditation is designed to help fans find peace in these trying times.
"A-go-go is your mantra, so put on your headphones and get down to the sounds of Silvio's sweet, kick-ass anxiety-reducing mindfulness," says Van Zandt at the beginning of one meditation, over a calming soundscape of drag racers and the second Ramones album.
Meditations can last for ten, 15, or 30 minutes of Boss Time.
Rarely one to sit still, Stevie's work with Calm is only one way he's helping folks keep a cool head this spring. Along with his recent change in eating habits and weight loss goals, Van Zandt is now hosting a series of online workout videos called Getting Little With Little Steven! and teaching spin classes with Little Steven's Disciples of Soul Cycle.
- April 1, 2020
This year's fools: Tom Cunningham, Dante Cutrona, Emily Dorezas, Christopher Phillips, Jonathan Pont, Shawn Poole, Mike Scully, and Jeff Vrabel