News Archive December 2010

We've celebrated some significant milestones in 2010, with both The River and Backstreets ourownselves turning 30 this past year (not to mention the, well, 32nd anniversary of Darkness on the Edge of Town).

We can't ring out the old year without celebrating one more: the 30th anniversary of the U.K. Springsteen fanzine Point Blank. A contemporary of Backstreets, beginning in the fall of 1980, and an inspiration too, Point Blank was created by Dan French, who published ten issues throughout that decade, with particularly impactful coverage of the '81 European tour.

Visit Dan's Wild and Innocent Productions website to read more about the magazine, including his thoughts on the 30th anniversary of Point Blank #1. There's plenty to keep you busy there, but perhaps the main attraction is the digital magazine archive: to celebrate this year's milestone, Dan has generously made all ten issues of Point Blank (and more) available as free downloadable PDFs.

You can also connect with Point Blank on Facebook and view a video celebration on YouTube.

A hearty congratulations to Dan and all of his Point Blank crew on three decades burning down the road... and happy New Year to all!
- December 31, 2010

Thanks to Mike P. for the holiday greetings from high on the Mountain of Bruce Love — specifically, the Canyons' ski resort in Park City, Utah, where if the Badlands ain't treating you good, you can always take Thunder Road instead. A look at the trail map tells us there are also trails called Rendezvous Ridge and, we're pleased to see, Back Street. We're still hunting for the inevitable double diamonds, Death Trap and Suicide Rap.
- December 30, 2010

But if you've managed to dig yourself out and wanna brave the snow, good music and good cheer await! Frank Bruno of the Sessions Band (and repeat onstage guest with the E Street Band) is comin' to town with his NC-based acoustic duo, Stable Hands. "Cousin Frankie," on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, is joined by lead guitarist/vocalist Hank Weddington for music full of heartfelt melodies and Americana roots, heavily influenced by Springsteen, Whiskeytown, the Jayhawks, Wilco, and Petty.

Catch Frank & Hank tonight at Banjo Jim's from 9 to 10 (700 E 9th St.), and tomorrow night at O'Brien's from 9 to 1 (134 West 46th St).

For more on Stable Hands, visit their Facebook page.
- December 29, 2010

After today, Backstreets will be closed for the holidays, from Christmas Eve through New Year's. In the meantime, we'll keep any news coming right here on this page, and our online shop will remain open 24/7 as usual (though please note that any orders placed during that time, including 2-Day or overnight, won't be fulfilled until after the holiday break). The Backstreets office will reopen to begin another year of Bossness on Tuesday, January 4. A safe and happy holiday to all!
- December 23, 2010

After playing the song live numerous times this year (remember this video?), this week Vampire Weekend releases their cover of "I'm Goin' Down," part of a six-track iTunes Session digital EP available now exclusively from the iTunes store.
- December 22, 2010

FOR GOODNESS' SAKE picks the 15 Greatest Rock and Roll Christmas Songs, with Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift for You rightly the gold standard among a whole bunch of dreck: "Most rock fans assume that all Christmas music is terrible. They're mostly right, but every once in a while a Christmas miracle happens — and a great holiday song gets produced."

Also making the cut, naturally: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's classic live performance of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town."

Now can we get the CD single back in print?
- December 22, 2010

Author Stephen Jennings* recently guested on The Best Show on WFMU with Tom Scharpling for a full hour to talk about his forthcoming book, Darkness on the River's Edge in the U.S.A.: From Greetings to the Promise: Bruce Springsteen: The Story Behind the Albums. Jennings provides some fascinating insights into Darkness on the Edge of Town, including the original lyrics to "Racing in the Street," the influence of The Dickies, and did you know that Rip, the album's main character, was originally named Roger Campbell? Listen here (starting at the 1:04 mark).

*AKA Jon Wurster, longtime drummer for Superchunk and recently for Bob Mould and the Mountain Goats. The comedy team of Scharpling & Wurster have CDs available at For more, visit
- December 20, 2010

If you're still looking for the perfect gift for your favorite Springsteen fan, be sure to visit our online shop -- and yes, there's still time! Using our Expedited Shipping service, we can deliver via UPS to any U.S. address in one or two days, and we'll be working through December 23 to make sure everyone gets what they need.

Overnight shipping adds $35 to standard shipping charges; 2-Day adds $15. Expedited orders placed by 2:00 p.m. Eastern will ship the same day! Just make sure to specify a street address, as UPS can't deliver to PO boxes.

For delivery on: Order by: Expedited Shipping
Wednesday, 12/22 Monday, 12/20, 2:00 p.m.
Tuesday, 12/21, 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, 12/23 Tuesday, 12/21, 2:00 p.m.
Wednesday, 12/22, 2:00 p.m.
Friday, 12/24 Wednesday, 12/22, 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, 12/23, 2:00 p.m.

Backstreet Records is our Springsteen specialty store, where we've been doing mail-order for more than 25 years. Visit our Latest Additions page to see what's new, or peruse by section, including: Stocking Stuffers, Concert Shirts, Springsteen CDs, Covers/Tribute CDs, Related Artist CDs, Vinyl, DVDs, Books, Songbooks, Magazines, Backstreets Back Issues, and Backstreets Merchandise (including shirts, stickers, and baseball caps).

For all U.S. customers who ordered by December 10: as promised, your items have been shipped out, scheduled for delivery prior to Christmas. As always, we appreciate you getting your Boss fix through us!
- December 17, 2010

Does the date 1/11/11 mean anything to you? Some are predicting a rapidly accelerated understanding of this plane of physical existence on that day, and for all we know it could be the date of the apocalypse... but really, the main event has gotta be Clarence Clemons turning 69. Numerologists, go nuts! And as the birthday party invitation reads, "He is all about Sax..."

Waitasec, birthday party? Yep — to celebrate the big day, the Big Man is playing the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, with his band the Temple of Soul — so you can be there to celebrate along with him. It's the first of a planned series of monthly shows. Tickets ($30) will be available for purchase here on Wednesday, December 22.
- December 17, 2010

Malin & Marah, doin' it for the kids
Currently barnstorming its way through the northeast is the Jesse Malin & The St. Marks Social/Marah holiday extravaganza "It Came Upon a Midnight Beer," benefitting the Toys For Tots Foundation. Both headliners have been Backstreets favorites through the years, and there are three more chances to catch their show before the end of the year:

  • Dec 17 - Elk Creek Café - Milheim, PA
  • Dec 18 - The Stone Pony - Asbury Park, NJ
  • Dec 19 - World Café Live - Philadelphia, PA

Backstreets caught up with the tour last week in New York City, and it was a combination of new and old tracks from both bands' discographies as well as a few holiday songs as befitting the season. Many of the dates have promised "special guests," including The Stone Pony show, and since Jesse Malin knows just about everyone and Dave Bielanko knows everyone else, you never know who might join the stage. In New York last week it was Mary-Louise Parker and Steve Earle.

Don't forget to bring unwrapped toys for the Toys For Tots drive, and members of the U.S. Marines will be happy to collect them and distribute them to the less fortunate.
- December 17, 2010 - photographs by A.M. Saddler

Join Lisa Lowell (pictured here with E Street Radio musical director Tom Wilkinson) for her Christmas Spectacular show, where she gets to burn her angel wings flying too close to the tree lights playing her favorite old and new rock 'n' roll chesnuts as guest DJ on E Street Radio.

Tune in today at 4 p.m. and midnight, and Saturday at 8 a.m. (all times Eastern) on E Street Radio (SIRIUS channel 10 and XM channel 58).

The Sessions Band vocalist has a new CD out, too — visit her site to purchase!

- December 17, 2010

You've seen the webcast... here's the rest of the story
It's not often fans walk into a Bruce Springsteen concert and have no idea of what to expect. Last Tuesday, December 7, was one of those instances. The only thing known was that Springsteen would play a few songs with the E Street Band for a video shoot. No one knew which configuration of the E Street Band was going to be there, or which songs they would play.

The Carousel House building, adjacent to the legendary Asbury Park casino and former home of the famous carousel, has been recently renovated, to host small theatrical performances during warmer months. The overall size of the building was comparable to the stage itself from the last E Street Band tour.

The first thing that struck those walking into the venue (aside from the blessed heat) was that there was no stage; a carpet in the center of the floor served as the performing area and took up most of the room. There were the usual risers for Max, Roy, and Charlie, and plus one more for a five-piece horn section. But the front line of Bruce, Steve, and Clarence were going to be at the fans' level, something that has only happened at a handful of bar shows. Fans stood around the band. A stage manager initially placed people, then Jon Landau and Thom Zimny made further rearrangements to where people were standing and what they were wearing; to be camera-friendly, the crew provided sweatshirts to at least two people.

Without much fanfare, the band walked out at 4:30, and it was the same E Street Band as from the "Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park, 2009" Darkness performance from the box set (no Nils, Patti, or Soozie). Songwriter David Lindley, a longtime violinist in Jackson Browne’s band, joined the band for the first song. Bruce wore a black t-shirt over a grey long sleeve shirt with dark blue jeans. But the most important accessory was the one slung over his shoulder: "The Guitar," apparently borrowed from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, appeared for the shoot.

The Bruce that took the stage at the start of the evening was not the "Showman Bruce" who wanted to make sure every ass was out of its seat, or the "Troubadour Bruce" from the solo shows with something to say. This was "Bandleader Bruce," determined to make sure everything was perfect for the cameras; to this Bruce, presumably unaccustomed to an audience sitting in on a lengthy video shoot, the audience didn't seem to distract him from the task at hand.

The first song was "Racing in the Street ('78)" from The Promise album, complete with a guitar/violin duel with David Lindley during the coda. To many ears, the band pretty much nailed it on the first take, but Bruce called for a second; every song would be done at least twice in this way as the evening went along. And what the fans thought was good on the first take was invariably even better for the second. After each take, Bruce would provide feedback and direction to the band, giving us a glimpse of what band rehearsal must be like.

All songs (except for one holiday song at the end) were from The Promise, and the arrangements were comparable to the album versions — though as usual, hearing them injected with the energy of a live performance was thrilling. "Gotta Get That Feeling," the second song, really got up on its feet in the concert setting. The horns — Clark Gayton, Curt Ramm, Eddie Manion, Stan Harrison, and Barry Danielian — made their entrance on this one, and on the first take, they joined in for Clarence’s solo; on the second, after some notes, they came in on the second verse, as on the album. Clarence hit his solo spot on, and the horns complemented him perfectly. 

Next up was "Outside Looking In," for which Bruce traded the Esquire for a sunburst acoustic guitar. Clarence missed his solo during the first take, prompting to Bruce say between takes, "Sometimes we're so impressed with the E Street Band that we forget we’re in the E Street Band." Bruce also noted that Steve missed a chord. For the second take, however, all the parts were accounted for.

"One Way Street" followed and, again, to many, they sounded good the first time, but number two was even better. In between, Bruce and Steve worked on their vocal harmonies, which paid off the second time around. This was the first song where they did an additional but partial take, just from the sax solo to the end of the song.

Bruce seemed to call an audible with "Come On (Let's Go Tonight)," so there were a couple of minutes of downtime while the crew prepared. Bruce used the time to speak to the crowd. He said this next song was an early version of "Factory," and that it was written about Elvis Presley's death, which coincided with the punk explosion; he jokingly said the song could be called, "The Ghost of Songwriting Future." With David Lindley, they worked on an extended ending for another partial third take.

There was a noticeable shift in Bruce for "Save My Love." Whether it was the joy in the song or the confidence he had from having performed it three times in concert already, "Showman Bruce" emerged, as he jumped on the drum riser at the end of the first take. Before the second, he told the fans behind Max to come out on the "stage" once he jumped on the riser. And at that moment, the video shoot became a show, with Bruce allowing himself to feed off the crowd.

The fans voluntarily and respectfully moved back to their spots behind Max as soon as the song ended, and "The Brokenhearted" again shifted the mood. Bruce performed it in a soulful manner very similar to "Back in Your Arms," "Fade Away," and "Dark End of the Street" from the 2009 tour, with mournful vocals pleading to a lost lover. Bruce repeated "Say it right now, darlin'" over and over during the fade out of the song to great effect.  Between the first and second takes, Steve gave the horns specific direction, and both Bruce and Steve gave further directions after the second take. Bruce also had a specific idea for lighting, wanting a backlight during the fade out of the song, and they worked through the ending several more times until he got what he wanted.

"The Brokenhearted" was a highlight of the evening, and its absence from the webcast alone makes us cross our fingers for some kind of extended DVD release in the future.

A break followed, during which they re-arranged some of the fans, moving those from the front to the back and vice versa. Interestingly enough, most of the band didn’t leave the stage area and they talked amongst themselves, giving the proceedings an informal vibe usually found only at Jersey house parties.

The first song after the break was "Ain't Good Enough For You," and "Showman Bruce" returned with a vengeance, first requesting that fans come as close to the stage as possible, enabling him to sing directly to the fans in front of him. Loose now, he returned to his pitching roots, physically illustrating the "here comes the pitch" lyric. He also asked fans to join the band on stage when they got to the "da da da" part, by which time Bruce was on the piano, again giving it more of house party feel than one of a video shoot.

Up next was a song Bruce had only performed with the E Street Band one time ever, and that one time was more than 32 years ago: "The Promise." David Lindley came out again, but no horns. The performance featured an intro similar to the build-up to "Point Blank" from the 1980-'81 tour or a darker version of the "Spirit in the Night" prelude in recent years before Max and Roy began the song together. While the solo piano performance of this song has been a highlight of every show in which Bruce plays it, the full band arrangement adds power to the song without losing any of the loneliness. Hopefully, this one will make more than an occasional appearance on the next E Street tour.

If "The Promise" was the "Backstreets" for this night, then "Talk to Me" was the "Rosalita," with the house party atmosphere returning. "Talk to Me" has been a semi-regular at holiday shows and the school benefits over the course of the last decade — although with Southside Johnny sharing the vocals for most of those performances — so it shouldn't be a surprise that Bruce looked quite comfortable singing this one, even in its proper E Street Band debut. The horns were in full force, just as one would expect, and the song featured a breakdown before revving back up at the end. Bruce was obviously having fun, again inviting the audience on to the stage while he and Steve stood on the drum riser exchanging "yeahs" just as they often do on "Prove It All Night."

And since this was December, they had to do one Christmas song, so the encore" was a rock-style "Blue Christmas," complete with horns, as opposed to the bluegrass style of the 2000 holiday shows. Bruce had the fans in front come as close as possible, then invited fans behind Max to come on to the stage as well. He surrounded himself with fans as he stood on a small riser by his mic stand, and each member of the band, including the horns, took a solo. Santa hats had been passed out to the fans prior to the song, and Bruce took one towards the end of the second take and jauntily placed it on his head before playfully throwing it at a camera — an impromptu move that wound up being a perfect ending to the webcast.

Including the break, the show was over three hours in length. As one would expect, the band spent a considerable amount of time rehearsing prior to the show that afternoon, and there were two songs rehearsed but not performed during the shoot: "Candy’s Boy" and "Wrong Side of the Street."

Overall, it was a loose and spirited afternoon — getting only looser and more spirited as evening fell, despite the many hours the musicians had put in since rehearsal began. It's not often that fans get a chance to see Springsteen in work mode, getting the elements just right. That's the end result, of course. And to see that for a batch of songs that have never been performed in public? For the fans assembled in the Carousel Building, and countless more watching on the web, it will be a lighter shade of blue this Christmas.

For the full setlist, and other reports from recent shows,
see our Setlists page.

- December 16, 2010 - Flynn McLean reporting

The much-anticipated dose of yuletide cheer from Thrill Hill Productions is here — a 30-minute film of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band shot live last week in Asbury Park, New Jersey, featuring never-before-performed songs from The Promise plus a Christmas bonus at the end. Dim the lights and crank it up... and you can watch in HD at (outside of the U.S./Canada, see below for international streaming links).

"Songs From The Promise" was filmed on December 7 inside the Asbury Park boardwak's historic Carousel House, directed and edited by Grammy- and Emmy-winning filmmaker Thom Zimny and mixed by Emmy-winner Bob Clearmountain. The concert features the world premiere E Street Band performances of four tracks from The Promise ("Racing in the Street ('78)," "Gotta Get That Feeling," "Ain't Good Enough For You," and the title track), plus "Blue Christmas."

For this one-time concert event, Springsteen and members of the Darkness-era E Street Band (Clarence Clemons, Stevie Van Zandt, Max Weinberg, Roy Bittan, and Gary Tallent) were joined by keyboardist Charles Giordano, a full horn section (Ed Manion, Barry Danielian, Curt Ramm, Clark Gayton and Stan Harrison) and special guest David Lindley, who played violin during the original recording sessions.

The five-song film streams online beginning today, with North American viewers able to tune in exclusively across VEVO platforms, including, VEVO Mobile (iPhone, iPod touch), VEVO connected devices (Google TV, Boxee) and VEVO syndication partners (YouTube, AOL, BET, CBS Interactive Music Group including and Univision) until January 1.

Worldwide Streaming Information:
USA/Canada – VEVO
Australia – Australia YouTube
Ireland – Irish Times
UK – The Guardian
Germany – Rolling Stone and Yahoo!
France – Deezer
Spain – El Mundo and Marca
Denmark - Politiken
Holland – Nu
Switzerland – Teleboy and Le Matin
Italy – Repubblica
Israel – Walla

Studio versions of "Racing in the Street ('78)," "Gotta Get That Feeling," "Ain't Good Enough For You," and "The Promise" are all contained on The Promise, with four configurations available: a 3CD/3DVD box, a 3CD/3Blu-ray box, a 2CD set, and a 3LP set.
- December 15, 2010

Okay, we played a little coy in the news item below, but everybody knows what we're waiting for — the imminent Springsteen & the E Street Band webcast filmed a week ago tonight in Asbury Park. We announced it ourselves, when we got to hold a contest for extras last week (sign up for the Backstreets Email List at right to receive future dispatches straight from us to you), and since then the "secret" show been buzzed about by and the Associated Press. "We got the call a couple of weeks ago," Clemons told the AP. "That's the way we always work... You get that call, you show up."

For us, as with the Band, it all started with a phone call and short notice: we were given the chance to provide the crowd for the taping, thereby providing a group of Backstreets supporters with an unprecedentedly intimate experience in Asbury Park. Given the location — inside the old carousel house — capacity was extremely limited; even band members' family and friends were highly restricted. We created a simple, random contest to fairly distribute the wealth as best we could; some Backstreets staff were also admitted to recognize their hard work. The actual number of slots wasn't finalized until the day of the show, so we were still notifying "golden ticket" winners that morning — fans who, when the afternoon arrived, were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime performance.

Of course, we'll be posting an inside view of the event shortly. But not quite yet, because here's the thing: we want to respect our hosts. Members of the Backstreets community were invited in to something that, not so long ago, would have been strictly a closed-door affair. So for this one, when the webcast goes public, so do we. In recent years, Thrill Hill and Jon Landau Management have opened their arms to diehard fans in a way that many of us have spent a long time hoping for, showing an appreciation for Backstreets readers specifically when it comes to the audience Springsteen plays to at unique events like these. Those lucky enough to be in attendance for this one were treated like VIPs, even provided with a video monitor to watch while waiting for the Band to finish rehearsal.

So, to the point: That respect has to go both ways. The day of the shoot, our small group inside the carousel did us proud. Mighty proud, I'd say. Soon thereafter, though, a fan-shot video went up on YouTube — and that reflects poorly on us, to say the least. So much so that it really could jeopardize this kind of opportunity down the road. Backstreets has never been against "fan-based recordings," far from it. And when it's an arena crowd of 20,000... well, that pretty much falls outside our purview. But when it's the Springsteen Family and us? And we're being graciously invited in? And everyone was given specific instructions regarding no cell phones, cameras, or video, repeatedly, and the whole point of this is that it's being professionally filmed for all to see? That's the time to leave the camera in your pocket.

But okay, the dude doesn't think like that, he posts the video, and it's soon taken down at the request of Sony. And if it were left at that, I might just bite my tongue... silly to post a rant aimed at one guy, right? But then, in the last 24 hours, he posted it again. So it feels like some of this stuff needs saying, even if it's really just to one guy, if we want to have a chance of getting Backstreets readers any more special opportunities like this in the future.

Think about it this way: they only needed a few dozen extras, and they could have gotten them anywhere. Rolling Stone. E Street Radio. An ad in the Village Voice (Bruce has done it before). Hell, for a crowd this size? The lunch crowd at Federici's Pizza. But they came to us. Maybe because they think we "get it." So we've got to act like we get it. Again — everybody but one guy did. But if we get another shot, here's an important reminder: if you're representing Backstreets, you're representing a great number of the faithful, around the country and around the world, who have waited a long time for stuff like this to happen. Fans who may not have won the last contest, but who might win the next one, if there is a next one... and to paraphrase the man, they don't want us to fuck it up this time. We hope you'll respect not only the trust we've worked to build up with the Springsteen organization over the years, but the faith they've met us with.

Just because there's a golden ticket doesn't mean there has to be an Augustus Gloop.

Thanks to all for reading, and to the one guy: Dude. Seriously. Don't blow it for the rest of us. Please do us all a favor and restrain yourself from posting it again — we'll be watching the real thing soon enough.
- Chris Phillips - December 14, 2010

Dunno what it is, but we're really itching to watch something this week. Some kind of... I don't know, new movie-type thing. Something we haven't seen before. For a holiday treat or some such, in, say, the next day or two. Maybe it's just us.

Well, until a Feature Presentation comes along, here are a few shorts. Above, a new music video for "Ain't Good Enough for You," produced and directed by Thom Zimny, incorporating some unseen studio footage from 1976-'78. And below, the latest installment in the "Hangin' on E Street" series: Leland Sundries taking on "Factory."

- December 14, 2010

The new, year-end issue of Rolling Stone [#1120/1121 - Dec. 23, 2010] features the complete text of John Lennon's final interview, a fascinating, 9-hour talk from just three days before his death 30 years ago. Compellingly, Lennon cited Bruce Springsteen (then ramping up the River tour) in discussing the phenomenon of backlash from fans and critics:

"And God help Bruce Springsteen when they decide he's no longer God. [God help him when they hate him.] I haven't seen him, but I've heard such good things about him. Right now his fans are happy. He's told them about being drunk and chasing girls and cars and everything, and that's about the level they enjoy. But when he gets down to facing his own success and growing older and having to produce it again and again, [the little turds will] turn on him, and I hope he survives it."

Backstreets reader Ed Hogan writes, "Lennon, in commenting on how the expectations of the public can drag on an artist, used Springsteen as an example of someone whose support could decline after a period of intense adulation. At the time of the interview Bruce's reputation was on the rise, and clearly Lennon was showing some respect for his talent. I think that we would all agree that Bruce has shown remarkable skill as the years have gone on in regard to how he handles his fame and how his talent has matured. I think Lennon would have been amazed and pleased that Bruce didn't fall into that trap."
- December 12, 2010

First the Super Bowl XLIII Halftime Show, then Nils Lofgren's stand on the Michael Vick controversy and now yet another E Street/NFL foray. Former pro-football prospect Clarence Clemons will perform "The Star-Spangled Banner" before this Sunday's New York Jets game at New Meadowlands Stadium (the facility that’s replaced "Wrecking Ball" victim Giants Stadium). It's not quite clear if the Big Man will root harder for the home team or their opposition, the Miami Dolphins, since he clearly has strong ties to both the NY-NJ area and Florida (his new homestate). No matter, however: everybody who gets to hear Clarence blow his horn should walk away a winner. You shouldn't have to attend the game, either, to catch the performance; CBS Sports will broadcast it regionally. Clarence's appearance will start at approximately 3:50 p.m. ET; kickoff at 4:15.
- December 10, 2010 - Shawn Poole reporting

As we do every year, we're guaranteeing pre-Christmas arrival for all orders placed by December 10 that are shipping to U.S. destinations. So if you're still in need of some Boss holiday goodies from Backstreet Records, tomorrow is the "Standard Shipping" deadline. (We can't guarantee arrival times outside of the U.S., unfortunately, but we'll be working hard to ship orders out to everyone as quickly as possible.)

If you wind up ordering after December 10 and need something prior to Christmas, you can always select "Expedited Shipping" to have it in one or two days within the U.S... but ordering by midnight tomorrow will save you some serious dough on postage.

Below is pictured the latest addition to our shelves: a new, officially licensed shirt picturing Bruce live in the '70s, beard, shades, and all. Can you say "Whip your hair"? You'll find that and many more in our Concert Shirts section, and here are some more categories to peruse:

Shopping in our online store helps support all things Backstreets, and we appreciate it!
- December 9, 2010

Over the weekend, we held a contest for a lucky few to be in the crowd when Bruce and the E Street Band film a performance webcast tomorrow afternoon on the Jersey Shore. By yesterday's contest deadline, we received nearly 3,000 entries for our impending random drawing. So that's a lot of fans eager to hear the results, and we want to keep you posted on where things stand.

First of all, no names have yet been drawn -- we're still awaiting final capacity info to know how many fans we can send to the event, and it's likely that won't come until tonight. So if you're a hopeful entrant, stay tuned to your email well into the evening, as that's when we'll be sending out confirmations.

Please bear in mind, capacity will be very limited -- we simply won't have as many lucky attendees here as we have for previous events like VH1 Storytellers or Spectacle. But we're thrilled to be able to get Backstreets folks in the door once again, even if it's a smaller number -- that they want fans there to be a part of this. And we hope any disappointment felt by the 98-99% of those who don't get a golden ticket will be mitigated by the fact that we'll all get to see the webcast, sometime between now and Christmas. We'll keep you posted on that as details come together.

Watch this space tonight, as we'll post again as soon as all winning notifications have been sent out -- we don't want to keep anyone waiting longer than necessary. Until then... keep expectations low, but keep hope alive!

If you missed out on the event notification, please sign up for our email blasts using the "Join the Backstreets Email List" box at right to receive any and all future mailings of our Outskirts Dispatch e-newsletter.

Update: As of 11:10 p.m., all notifications have gone out. The correct answer to the trivia question was David Lindley (not David Findlay, Danny Lindley, Daniel Lanois, Soozie Tyrell, or Suki Lahav)... and of the 2,536 valid entries we received, we were able to draw 15 of them at random, each to bring a guest, for a total of 30 fans in the door tomorrow. These "Golden Ticket" emails were sent from; check your spam folder just in case. And if you weren't a lucky lottery winner... well, you're in good company. These were obviously tough odds, for a tiny venue. Thanks to everyone for playing, and to the Springsteen organization for wanting to give Backstreets readers a shot at being there.
- Updated December 6, 2010

Nils Lofgren has long been a passionate NFL fan -- he even released Tuff Stuff, a full album of music he composed for the All Madden Show. Well, he's just as passionate decrying animal cruelty, as evidenced by his new "open letter to the men and women of the sports reporting community," regarding the recent press coverage of Michael Vick. Nils begins:

I am so disheartened and disappointed by your collective, lopsided praise of Michael Vick due to his recent spectacular on-field performance.

Jemele Hill stated on ESPN's "The Sports Reporters" that if Josh Hamilton could win one of baseball's MVP awards after recovering from alcohol and drug abuse, why couldn't Vick win the award in the NFL? Well, for one thing, Hamilton has neither tortured dozens of dogs nor murdered defenseless animals.

Nils goes on to not only remind readers of Vick's "heinous acts of cruelty," but also to discuss the impact on our society and our children, and the NFL's culpability: "For the NFL to be that forgiving of evil, vicious behavior is a terribly inappropriate act of forgiveness and has brought a sick, sad, dirty feeling to many of us fans who have loved the game for so long."

Check out "Vick incites outrage amid cheers" at, well worth a read.

Update: As his letter has stirred up a great deal of discussion, Nils has written a follow-up to clarify a few points -- here's his update in full:

I hope this will bring some clarity to my sports letter and what I feel is the common sense missing in the current reporting.

As the season and this saga continues, reporters and commentators could help us all, on both sides of this issue by:

A) Showing more of what Vick is doing currently to abolish dog fighting, speaking to kids, his work with the ASPCA, etc.

B) Having animal experts help you enlighten your audience as to just how barbaric and wrong dog fighting is. Help kids that continue to grow up in and out of this culture see that it is wrong and give them tools and inspiration to stop participating.

C) Showing dogs rescued from the dog fighting world, recuperating and being rehabilitated by wonderful, brave, cool, tough men and women doing this formidable and admirable work. Let our children see that, in life, there are people doing this extraordinary work with severely damaged animals, and their commitment, bravery and passion rivals/tops anything they'll see on a football field. [Enlist other great players/athletes/coaches in this endeavor.]

D) Some feel that Vick has earned forgiveness and this second chance in the NFL, which he is certainly making the most of, so help him do his job and shine more of a regular light on his efforts off the field to abolish dog fighting. I see only an upside to that. It would certainly put the NFL's decision to re-instate Vick in a better light and help get this awful mentality out of young, future players and fans alike. This is in all our best interests. [I believe you'd find great players/athletes/coaches willing to help.]

Any additional amount of coverage in this direction would be a significant improvement for us all. I hope you'll all consider this.

Thanks, Sincerely, Nils

- Updated December 6, 2010

Danny Federici in the 1980 film Christmas Evil (aka You Better Watch Out!) Still image used with permission. Under license from Lewis Jackson.

A Christmastime Visit From "St. Daniel"
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the film Christmas Evil (originally titled You Better Watch Out!), a unique Christmas-themed horror film. While it's definitely not a holiday film for the whole family to enjoy together, its artistry and just plain weirdness rank it far above standard slasher-genre fare. Delightfully twisted independent film legend John Waters calls it "the best seasonal film of all time. I wish I had kids. I'd make them watch it every year and, if they didn't like it, they’d be punished!"

Springsteen fans have an additional reason to check out the flick. The late, great Danny Federici appears briefly in a crucial and beautiful scene. Danny (on accordion) and fellow Jersey Shore-connected musicians Arthur "Artie" Bressler (saxophone, played with Danny and other E Streeters on the 1980 Norman Seldin tracks released on Asbury Park, Then and Now) and Jack Scarangella (drums, an original member of both Clarence Clemons & The Red Bank Rockers and La Bamba & the Hubcaps) play a great little version of "Jingle Bells."

Unfortunately, no soundtrack album has ever been made officially available.  Through special arrangement with the film's writer/director Lewis Jackson, however, is pleased to present an early Christmas present to all on our Downloads page: a free mp3 of Danny, Artie and Jack performing "Jingle Bells" from the film's soundtrack, along with Backstreets contributor Shawn Poole's "A Visit From St. Daniel," a rather unique take on the film inspired by a 2008 screening in Philadelphia. 

Christmas Evil is available on DVD from Synapse Films. It also can be purchased or rented for video-on-demand viewing at Fans in the California area also may be interested in attending one of these upcoming theatrical screenings of the film, each of which will feature an in-person appearance/presentation by Lewis Jackson:

  • Saturday, December 11 – Bridge Theatre – San Francisco, CA – Special Midnight Screening hosted by the inimitable Peaches Christ.
  • Tuesday, December 21 – New Beverly Cinema – Los Angeles, CA - 7:30 PM
  • Wednesday, December 22 – 10th Avenue (Did someone say "Freeze-out"?) Theatre – San Diego, CA - 7:00 PM

(Left to right) Jack Scarangella, Danny Federici and Arthur "Artie" Bressler on the set of the film. Photos courtesy of Jack Scarangella. Visit Jack at and Artie or Jack on Facebook.

- December 3, 2010

The Killers' frontman Brandon Flowers is an unabashed Springsteen fan, so it's no suprise that he broke out an impassioned cover upon his own visit to The Promised Land: last night at The Stony Pony in Asbury Park, NJ.
- December 2, 2010

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