News Updated March 30, 2015

It was a bittersweet weekend for Vini Lopez. On the one hand, a first-of-its-kind exhibit devoted solely to his professional life and legacy opened on Friday night at the Where Music Lives gallery in Asbury Park, and on the other — right next door, in fact — his past was disappearing before his eyes, as the former Upstage club saw what may well be its last hurrah (which included a brief "last jam" featuring Vini and his friend and current bandmate Paul Whistler) that same night.

- Vini getting a last look inside the Upstage on Friday night - photograph by Mark Krajnak/JerseyStyle Photography

But life has always been somewhat of a mixed bag for the free-spirited Lopez, whose interests have led him from a musical career to professional caddying on the PGA tour, from surfing to carpentry and boatbuilding. For better or worse, he's always done things his way. Would he change anything if he could?

"Well, I'd like to have more money. I'd like to pay my mortgage," he tells Backstreets. But on display in the "Life and Times of Vini Lopez" exhibit is evidence of a life well-lived despite the occasional hardship: PGA badges and a caddy's vest. A commemorative gold record for the Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle. His infamous, handmade Spock surfboard. VIP credentials and a commemorative trophy from his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. A Steel Mill family tree. Photographs of his grandmother's wedding, family gatherings, his high school graduation. A vintage travel bag covered with stickers documenting life on the road. Countless images of Lopez posing with friends and bandmates or at the drum kit in classic "Mad Dog" mode.

Most of what's in the gallery is from his personal collection — and there is a story behind just about every item — but there is also the story of what's no longer his. He had traveled to San Francisco with Bruce and Steel Mill and had taken many of his personal possessions with him in the car. They were there to play a few shows and do some recording for legendary impresario Bill Graham. "Eric Clapton was playing at [Graham's] Carousel Ballroom, and we all decided we'd go," Vini recalls. They all piled into their Volkswagen van, parked on the street, and went in to catch the show. When they came out, "the stuff was gone."

So, many items from that early period — posters, musical equipment, memorabilia, even Steel Mill tapes playing over the museum P.A. — are either facsimile or borrowed from other sources, notably longtime collector Billy Smith. But one would be hard pressed to find fault with the contents of this comprehensive exhibit.

Indeed, it's a diverse and satisfying collection, the history of a life in which Lopez has, over the years, established himself as a true cornerstone of the Asbury Park music scene and keeper of the flame, of a much-beloved local fixture and generous friend who has weathered the vicissitudes of the musician's life and come out the other side. It is the story of his journey from Tinker West's surfboard factory to the Barclays Center.

Taking in the dilapidated but still eerily evocative remnants of the old Upstage building just after overseeing the official opening of the exhibit, Lopez was wistful. "There are a lot of ghoulies and ghosts in here for me," he told the Asbury Park Press. Indeed, many of the musicians who made the place what it was — Bobby Williams, John Luraschi, Danny Federici, Kevin Kavanaugh — are gone. But as one of the last true originals on the Asbury Park scene, Vini Lopez still stands tall.

The fate of the Upstage building at 702 Cookman is still in question; the building remains for sale, with current owner Richard Yorkowitz having long since abandoned plans to convert the building to a music venue/restaurant after garnering minimal support from Asbury Park City Hall. Carrie Potter Devening, granddaughter of Upstage owner/founders Tom and Margaret Potter, considers it her duty to uphold their legacy, and continues to work hard from her home in Texas to come up with financial backing to restore the building to its former glory. Indeed, Friday evening's "last hurrah" tour organized by DJ Rich Russo has revived interest in her salvation efforts. But it's an uphill battle at best.

True artists can and do carve out the time and space to do their work in the unlikeliest of places — in this case, on top of a shoe store. Out of a sense of community, of needing to belong somewhere, to create something together that is theirs alone, they can fashion something larger than themselves, something vibrant, unique, lasting and true. The Upstage was once such a place. That's the part that continues to live on in people's memories even as the building itself crumbles.

For more information on Vini Lopez and his new band Dawg Whistle, visit Information on Carrie Potter Devening's fundraising efforts can be found on the Upstage Club and Green Mermaid Café Facebook page; her book on the Upstage is available here. "The Life and Times of Vini Lopez" exhibit continues through June 14 at the Where Music Lives, 708 Cookman Ave in Asbury Park.
- March 30, 2015 - Lisa Iannucci reporting

The Title Trackers find the "lost" title track to Greetings
The Title Trackers are men on a mission of musical mirth. As simply stated on their website, "We take classic albums with no title track, and write and record parody songs answering the question: What might it have sounded like if the artists HAD written a title track?" The results are simultaneously funny and intriguing. Their debut album includes the band's takes on the missing title tracks from The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street, U2's The Joshua Tree, The Who's Who's Next and Bruce Springsteen's Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ. These very clever musical parodies work so well because band members Russell Wiener, David Tokaji and Andy Hill (pictured L-R) are seriously talented musicians/satirists and serious music fans who've hit upon a great way of not taking themselves or some of their favorite artists too seriously.

You can check out "Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ" and four more "lost" title tracks right now at

Tokaji gave Backstreets some additional insights into his band's vision of Springsteen's debut album's non-existent title track: "The elements we most wanted to conjure and satirize were the scrappy and quirky instrumentation, whirlwind rhymes, eccentric Jersey characters prowling the shore, and phlegm-rattling vocals. As with all our songs, we think of 'Greetings' as part homage and part satire — we're both showing our love of the artist and poking some affectionate fun at their idiosyncrasies. The one part of the song that is pure homage is the sax solo. We debated at length whether to have sax at all because Clarence is just such a force of nature and, in our minds, beyond the reach of parody. In the end, we decided we had to include a big moment from the Big Man simply to honor him and the magic between him and Bruce that sprang forth on that first album."

The Trackers' debut album features contributions on several tracks from Marty Rifkin, a member of the Sessions Band who played on the original Seeger Sessions as well as several other Springsteen recordings. Rifkin told Backstreets, "What makes great parody is having a total understanding of the artist and their work that's being parodied. The Title Trackers know Bruce's lyrics so well, having studied them so carefully for years. So it's easy to tell that the lines in 'Greetings' were derived from Bruce's early-'70s songs — and then were amped up and turned on their side to become a caricature. It's fun trying to figure out what original lyric the parody lyric is teasing. And musically, they just nailed it."

Click here to buy Lost Title Tracks, featuring "Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ," on vinyl with CD included. Los Angeles-area fans also can check out The Title Trackers in concert, with Marty Rifkin joining in on guitar for the entire show, debuting their album live at The Satellite tonight, Sunday March 29, at 8 pm. Click here for details and tickets.
- March 29, 2015 - Shawn Poole reporting

Fourth archive release goes down to The River

Maintaining an impressive release schedule, the Springsteen Live Download series returns with a show that has surely been at or near the top of many fans' wish lists: the New Year's Eve concert from Long Island's Nassau Coliseum, December 31, 1980.

The 38-song set ranks as one of Springsteen's longest, and that fact alone kept fans' regard for it high since the show ended in the wee hours of January 1, 1981. It's one of the best because it has it all: 12 core songs from The River, key unreleased "hits" of the era ("Because the Night," "Rendezvous," "Fire"), vital transition songs that signaled what was to come in Europe and beyond ("This Land Is Your Land," "Who'll Stop the Rain"), seasonal specials ("Merry Christmas Baby," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," "Auld Lang Syne"), true rarities ("In the Midnight Hour," the one-off "Held Up Without a Gun," ), and three night songs to kick things off strong ("Night," "Prove It All Night," "Spirit in the Night").

Like the Tower Theater (recorded exactly five years earlier), Nassau was newly mixed from multi-track tapes by Toby Scott earlier this month (and mastered again by Adam Ayan at Gateway), working from tapes made by the Record Plant Remote recording unit, which was on site to capture all three nights of the stand. Songs from Nassau '80 have previously appeared on Live 1975-85, Tracks and Essential.

The legendary performance has a long history on bootlegs, first on vinyl with titles like The Night They Drove Old ’80 Down and Happy New Year, and later on CD (In The Midnight Hour and Nassau Night). But even the best of these was never quite as good as the best ’78 broadcasts or earlier soundboards, and some drew on performances from other nights in the run to fill in gaps.

Like its predecessors, 12/31/80 is available in four formats: MP3, CD (shipping in late April), lossless standard 16 bit /44.1 kHz, and high definition 24 bit / 192 kHz.
- March 25, 2015 - Erik Flannigan reporting - photograph by John T. Comerford III / Frank White Photo Agency

We at mourn the loss of Danny Schechter, who died last Thursday of pancreatic cancer at the age of 72. Schechter, long known as "The News Dissector" beginning with his 1970s stint as news director at Boston’s legendary free-from radio station WBCN, was a pioneering journalist, filmmaker, and activist.

Schechter [front row, far left] working on the "Sun City" video with director Jonathan Demme and producer Hart Perry, along with [back row, L-R] Big Youth, Lou Reed, Reuben Blades, John Oates, and Little Steven. Photograph by David Seelig for The Solidarity Foundation

Schechter also was Steve Van Zandt's original collaborator on what became Artists United Against Apartheid and "Sun City." As Van Zandt told Dave Marsh in a 2013 E Street Radio interview archived here by, "Danny... was my first partner. We brought in Arthur Baker. He offered his studio, which was great, and ended up co-producing and connecting us to this new thing which me and Danny were very, very adamant about, which was including these new things called 'rappers' on the record.... [Before Sun City,] I think I'd done an interview or two with [Danny,] but we weren't really that friendly. I called him or he called me when he heard about what I was doing, and he turned out to be a wonderful partner because he was so politically connected and also had such great media savvy... which we needed for this project desperately, because I was not that big a star to sort of be doing stuff like this, frankly. I was not that big a celebrity at the time. I was doing it all from pretty much willpower."

For the Sun City album, Schechter also fully utilized his "News Dissector" skills, working with Keith LeBlanc to select, edit and mix (to a hip-hop beat) dozens of news clips, speech and interview segments, during a pre-digital/internet period when performing such a task wasn’t so easy. Their valiant efforts produced the track "Revolutionary Situation," a still-riveting audio-montage that gave many listeners, in just over six minutes, their much-needed basic overview of the struggle against apartheid.

In When South Africa Called, We Answered: How the Media and International Solidarity Helped Topple Apartheid, the last of twelve books he had published during his lifetime, Schechter wrote, "'Sun City' had as much or more impact in getting people to understand apartheid as the plethora of news stories and TV reports about it. Pop stars did what politicians wouldn't and journalists couldn't: they spoke out bravely and clearly. They took a stand."

Seven years after Sun City, Schechter teamed up again with Little Steven and Bruce Springsteen, contributing "Revolutionary Situation"-style audio work to Van Zandt's remixes of Springsteen's "57 Channels (And Nothin' On.)” (Check out "Little Steven's Mix Version 1" here.) This time around, the aural terrain wasn’t apartheid-era South Africa but the United States, in the wake of the Rodney King beating.

Old friends Van Zandt and Schechter together again, a quarter-century after "Sun City." Photograph by Jon Kalish

Before, during and after his intersections with E Street, Danny Schechter remained a widely recognized and respected figure in independent journalism and alternative media. Here are just a few of the many online resources recognizing his passing and the enduring achievements of his life and career:

- March 25, 2015 - Shawn Poole reporting

Airborne Toxic Event's Mikel Jollet on what he's learned from Bruce

readers may already be familiar with Airborne Toxic Event; the band has covered Springsteen tracks including "I'm on Fire," appeared on Dave Marsh's Live From E Street Nation [right], and frontman Mikel Jollet spoke with Rolling Stone a couple years back about the man's influence on their third album: "I asked myself, 'What would Bruce Springsteen do?' If you want to do something that's important, you can't fake it.... I watched the documentaries about making Born to Run and making Darkness on the Edge of Town and there was a moment where Bruce says something along those lines."

Airborne Toxic Event has just released two new albums simultaneously, Dope Machines and Songs of God and Whiskey — another trick borrowed from the Boss — and are currently on a mini-tour in the U.S. before heading to Europe next month. Our friend and Williams College professor Steven Fein spoke with Jollet, discovering further wisdom he's taken from Zimny's documentaries and from Springsteen's work as a whole, and finding some compelling insights into how Bruce's work continues to affect another generation of songwriters. Jollet has thought about it enough that, when Fein asks if there are specific inspirations he can name, the singer replies, "Well, there's three."

1. Score your thoughts One is the idea I remember from one of the documentaries, where he talks about scoring, and viewing [an album's music] as a cinematic score, like you can watch an album. I did that a lot on the first record... then I just didn't do it with the second record: I was just writing songs I'd bring to the band, and then we'd work it out, and cool, that's the arrangement. But it's bullshit, because you've gotta score your thoughts, you've gotta put people in your world with you, you've gotta let them join your world. And the only way to do that is to sit in a room and tinker with lots of different sounds until it feels like a mood is happening, and then you can sing about it — and if you could sing them in gibberish, you would know what the songs were about. That's a direct lift from Bruce. And it's something that I was not conscious of doing, and I remember I was like "Oh, I totally used to do that, why'd I stop?"... So that's a direct thank you to Bruce, for taking something I didn't even realize I was doing and making it very explicit.

2. Show your struggle The second idea — I don't know where I saw it, but it was the idea of struggle, that you don’t present your solutions, you present your struggles. Give people the struggle, don't give them your answer. You don't want to be like, "I'm the songwriter, I figured out so much truth, and here it is! Love is the best thing!" You're wrestling with an idea, and the idea isn't to wrestle with it to come to a conclusion and to write about your conclusion. The idea is to put people in the room with you while you're struggling. 'Cause they're struggling, too.

There's mood and there's emotion and communication in melody and in rhythm. And of course it's part of storytelling, of course it's part of communing... that's why music is such a vital thing for human beings, because it's a way that we communicate more complexity in our thoughts and our emotions. So if you present people your struggles in this way, they feel less alone. There's a shock of recognition, of like, "Oh my god, somebody else." And I've had that with many, many artists where I'm like, "Somebody else has felt this."

3. Find the moment There's a moment in "Thunder Road" that is always, like, my standard. And the moment is: "There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away." When he just belts out that line, and the music swells, and suddenly everything just goes. It's like a car, and its going down a bumpy road... and then suddenly, it kind of ramps up... and then you're off and you’re on this highway and you turn right! And you’re like, "Oh shit, the whole song turned right now, now we’re on this highway — what, there are ghosts!" And you can see the prom dress flying in the air, you can feel the rhythm of the thing and the engine roaring, and you're like, "Yeah!"

And that sort of poetry — highly evocative poetry, mixed with the orchestration and the scoring of that moment — can let people go on that journey with you.... I think he just nailed it on that song, so it's sort of like a standard for me. I'm always thinking about that and looking for that moment where it gets interesting.

"I don't want to be Bruce Springsteen, at all," Jollet clairifies. "You know, I think there are decisions I wouldn't make, too. It's not as if I feel like he nailed the thing that I wanted to do and I just want to copy him, because I don't. I have other things that I want to do. It's more that I so respect and admire what he did. And mostly, more than anything, the sense of being in it, body and soul."

For Fein's full Springsteen discussion with Jollet, visit Airborne Toxic Event fansite
- March 24, 2015 - SiriusXM studios photograph by Carin Perilloux


Beginning this Friday, March 27, the Where Music Lives Gallery in Asbury Park will host "The Life & Times of Vini Lopez," a multimedia exhibit dedicated to the E Street Band's founding drummer. Featuring photos, video and memorabilia, the show celebrates the 40-plus year career of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, who has been a cornerstone of the Asbury Park music scene since the late 1960s. Lopez, still a fixture at the Shore, also shares personal stories of the highs and lows of being a working musician.

The "Life & Times" exhibit runs through Sunday, June 14, at the Where Music Lives Exhibit & Performance Center, 708 Cookman Ave. in Asbury Park.
- March 23, 2014 - Lisa Iannucci reporting


The Upstage Club, located at 700 Cookman in Asbury Park, was the launching pad for the Jersey Shore sound of Bruce Springsteen, Little Steven Van Zandt, Southside Johnny and numerous others who honed their skills via late night jams at the club. Anything Anything with Rich Russo gives you the final opportunity to see and go inside before this legendary Asbury club truly is no more.

Although the building has been in bad shape for years, and efforts to resurrect it have fallen short, numerous elements of the Upstage are still there: some of the wall murals and other paintings are still visible, as is the original stage. But the building is for sale, and any new owner will most likely gut it.

"If you are a fan of the great music that Asbury Park has given us, stepping inside the Upstage is our version of visiting the Cavern Club in Liverpool," says Russo, whose freeform Anything Anything program will be giving away passes this Sunday night. "But this is even rarer, since it's not a museum and hasn't been readily available since it shut down in the '70s. It's truly something that money can't buy, and it will be free to about 20 contest winners.

"Winners will get to take pictures, stand on the stage, visit the Green Mermaid area on the second floor — it will truly be a special thing. You will get goosebumps," Russo continues, "especially after you realize that once you leave, no one will ever see it in that form again."

The bulk of the passes will be given away on Anything Anything this Sunday night, March 22, via 95.9 WRAT-FM from 10pm-12m, and 105.5 WDHA-FM from 11pm-1am. These stations can be also streamed throughout New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Well aware that there are fans of the Jersey Shore sound around the world, and considering the streams of his Jersey stations are limited to the tri-state area, Russo will also be giving away one pair of passes via his show on White Plains' 107.1 The Peak (which airs at 9pm Sundays and streams worldwide) as well as giving a pair to good friend and host of the longest running Bruce Springsteen radio show ever, Tom Cunningham's Bruce Brunch on 105.9 The Hawk (which airs 9am-11am on Sunday mornings and also streams worldwide).

This is an exclusive Anything Anything event. The winners will be notified within a few days of the contest, and the Upstage visit will happen no later than April 5. There is no purchase necessary. This prize has no monetary value. There will be no special guests, no music, no souvenirs available, no food, no drink —this will be about a 30-minute walk-through, and no one other than those on the list will get the opportunity. Tune in on Sunday for your chance to get on it.
- March 19, 2014 - images courtesy of Carrie Potter Devening, from her book For Music's Sake: Asbury Park's Upstage Club and Green Mermaid Cafe - The Untold Stories

Jake Clemons / Heritage Hotel Bulli / Saturday, March 14, 2015
Bulli is a former mining town, now suburb of the City of Wollongong, an hour and half drive south of Sydney. It's quiet, just a handful of stores and a single pub. It's at this pub that Jake Clemons spent a Saturday night giving what I'm guessing is one of his most intimate gigs ever.

The intimacy came from two sources. The first was the pub itself, a small establishment which could fit 150 or so people maximum (there were around 40 on this night). The second source of intimacy was the performance itself. This was my first Jake Clemons gig, so I had no idea how he'd be as front man. What I saw was near on a revelation: Jake is one of the most passionate performers I've ever seen, one willing to not only wear his heart on his sleeve but to hold it up and open it for everyone to see.

The first set was Jake on his own, performing a range of numbers from his first two EPs. The final song of the first set saw the use of a looper pedal to huge effect, with a howling sax solo on top that brought down the house.  Set two saw band mates Matt Musty (percussion) and Brett Mayer (keys) join the fray. There were plenty of songs from the upcoming album played, as well as some well-known Clemons songs. There was a great cover of "With a Little Help From My Friends," but the real highlights for me were "Love'll Never Change" [video], and a brilliantly poignant mash-up of "You're a Friend of Mine" and "The Wrestler."

This could have been a night where 40 people didn't fill the room with enough energy. Between Jake's passion and the appreciation shown by those present, it ended up a special night. Not that he needed to prove he was a class act, but after finishing the second set, a fully unplugged singalong standing amongst us punters. A fitting end to a night of music about hope, community and carrying others forward. Anyone varicating about going to a Jake Clemons gig needs to stop doing so: it's an uplifting experience throughout.

Jake continues to tour Down Under for the rest of March; see for dates and ticket links.
- March 19, 2014 - report and photograph by David Holloway

Lads and lasses, the luck of the Irish is again upon you: for today only, a Backstreet Records store-wide sale: 17% off throughout our entire online shop! Use the coupon code below to get that discount on all in-stock merchandise, including:

Simply use the coupon code SLANECASTLE30 during Step Two of Checkout, and the 17% discount will be applied to your entire order — including items already on sale. So if you've been eyeing something Boss, now's a great time to pick it up. Offer good Tuesday, March 17 only. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
- March 17, 2014

Wishing the good Reverend Everett Bradley a bangin' birthday.
- March 16, 2015 - photograph by Bill Donohoe

Christgau: the man, the memoir, the music

Whatever the field, few people can call themselves the dean of anything and get away with it. But music critic Robert Christgau continues to earn that title. He reviews everything, from Muddy Waters (on I'm Ready, the follow-up to his 1977 comeback Hard Again: "Not as ready as you were last time, Mud, but don't let it worry you — it's always harder to get hard again again") to Son Volt ("As sentimental as Darius Rucker himself, [Jay] Farrar is only a set of pipes and a big fat heart away from convincing millions of sensitive guys that he evokes for them"). And lately, it's Christgau's championing of Wussy that gets us cheering.

Christgau's writing has appeared in the form of the Consumer Guide, published for decades in the Village Voice. Short, punchy reviews accompanied by a letter grade distinguished his work from others. No one could match Christgau's efficiency, accessibility, or authority. Backstreets readers will appreciate his consistent engagement of Bruce Springsteen's music (on Born to Run: "Just how much American myth can be crammed into one song, or a dozen, about asking your girl to come take a ride?" And this: "'Promised Land,' 'Badlands,' and 'Adam Raised a Cain' are models of how an unsophisticated genre can illuminate a mature, full-bodied philosophical insight") — all of his reviews are online at the eminently economical and searchable

This week, a great Q+A with Christgau in Salon piqued our interest. In it, he praises Springsteen's recent work ("I respect him enormously," he says of Bruce) and uses it to buttress an argument about current poplular music. The interview serves as a fine primer to Christgau's just-released memoir, Going Into the City: Portrait of a Critic as a Young Man (a title that conjures the Jam, James Joyce, and Mose Allison might be enough, but did we mention how much we like Wussy, too?).

Christgau will celebrate the book with several New York City appearances in the coming weeks, including a 7pm reading on March 19 at The Center for Fiction in midtown.
- March 13, 2015 - Jonathan Pont reporting

Just in at Backstreet Records: a new installment in the Rockabye Baby! series, "Lullaby Renditions of Bruce Springsteen." So you're driving down the highway, windows rolled down, and you put slip this CD in the player... No, you don't. You really don't. But for a Springsteen-loving household with a baby who needs the expresslane to dreamland (or to go the f*** to sleep), this is just the thing.

For a baby shower gift, pair it with the Sleepytime Tunes: Bruce Springsteen Lullaby Tribute CD. (We haven't put either of these to use ourselves, but if anyone does a speed test for comparison, let us know the results.) And for the trifecta, Every Child Deserves a Lifetime includes Springsteen's "Chicken Lips and Lizard Hips."
- March 11, 2015

Cherry-pick remastered Springsteen LPs on Record Store Day

Last November, the box set The Album Collection Vol. 1, 1973-1984 collected Bruce Springsteen's first seven albums, Greetings through Born in the U.S.A., newly remastered on vinyl. Five months later, those LPs will be issued individually, for those who prefer to pick and choose.

Today's press release from Legacy Recordings announces these titles — "transferred from the original analogue masters and remastered for release by Bob Ludwig, working with Springsteen and longtime engineer Toby Scott" — as part of the Sony division's Record Store Day 2015 line-up.

While The Album Collection Vol. 1 LP set (including the slip-top box and 60-page book) had a suggested list price of $269.98, the individual LPs will retail for $24.98 per each single album, and $39.98 for The River. Record Store Day is Saturday, April 18.
- March 10, 2015

On this recent episode of Sideman, hosts Dave Durocher and George Marinelli pay a visit to Garry W. Tallent's home in Nashville. They had us from the moment the Tennessee Terror breaks out the tuba for the theme song... but Garry also talks about record and autograph collecting, backing Chuck Berry with the proto-E Street Band, and what makes a great sideman: "I guess the main thing is to be willing to sacrifice a bit of your ego for the star, and the music, and the song."
- March 9, 2015

40 years ago: freaky friars and the last live hurrah before Born to Run

At this time in 1975, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were still trying out songs from the unfinished Born to Run on live audiences (including "Jungleland," "She's the One," and the title track), but wrapping things up on the road. Following three shows in early March — March 7 in Owings Mills, MD; March 8 and 9 in Washington DC — they'd leave the stage behind to dedicate themselves to studio work until the completion of the third LP in July. These were also Suki Lahav's final performances with the band.

Forty years ago tonight, March 7, 1975, was the Maryland show, with the band playing for a crowd of 1,800 at the Painters Mill Music Fair. John Schulian covered the show for the Baltimore Sun, speaking with a sweaty Springsteen after the show and noting a particularly bizarre stage visitor:

- click to expand and read the whole Baltimore Sun article -

Paul Johnson, who took these photographs that night, recalls the Freaky Friar. And the Freaky Friar was not alone. "There were three or four guys dressed in Friar outfits," Paul recalls, "one in white and the others in brown. At least one had a Friar Tuck haircut. During one of the songs toward the end of the show, one of the friars jumped on stage and gave Bruce his girth rope. The other guy Bruce mentions was a 'civilian' that, in a fit of euphoria, jumped up on stage and shook Bruce's hand."

That wasn't the last sighting of the friars, who Paul also spotted at the final show of the spring two nights later. "As we stood on the [D.A.R. Constitution] Hall steps waiting for the soundcheck to be completed, I turned and saw the friars again. Kind of creepy... but no reoccurrence of the Painters Mill episode."

- March 7, 2015 - photographs [3/7/75] by Paul Johnson


Congratulations to Backstreets writer Caryn Rose on her new book out this week, Gas, Food, Wifi: On the Road in the American Southwest. If you've been with us for a while, you've been reading Caryn's concert reporting here for more than a decade, and she has her own blog with a good deal of related "fan's notes" at She's also the author of books including Raise Your Hand: Adventures of an American Springsteen Fan in Europe. Gas, Food, Wifi is more of Caryn's road trip travel writing, and though there's not the Springsteen focus of Raise Your Hand, of course that's a love she can never get to far away from, no matter what other kicks she finds on Route 66.

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.

Purchase the Gas, Food, Wifi e-book at

- March 4, 2015 - photographs by Caryn Rose

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 "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

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
Cover Me
All the Way Home
Something in the Night
Trapped Again
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Johnny 99
Stolen Car
Prove It All Night
Kitty's Back
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Fade Away
You Mean So Much to Me
Jack of All Trades
Murder Incorporated
The Fever
Talk to Me
Sherry Darling
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. 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

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, 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]

Whether you can make it to these Asbury Park concerts or not, this here's a must-read: "Southside Johnny: Upcoming Pony shows 'a lot of work' but 'worth it'
- February 24, 2015

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
- February 24, 2015


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 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."

Backstreets' own Robert Santelli wrote the book on "This Land is Your Land" — literally. As we celebrate this 75th anniversary, save 25% off the list price of Santelli's This Land is Your Land: Woody Guthrie and the Journey of an American Folksong in the Backstreet Records shop.
- February 23, 2015 - Shawn Poole reporting

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

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

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

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

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

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 River Times. "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.

Read: Backstreets' interview with Charlie Horner

Visit: "Asbury Park’s Springwood Avenue Harmony: Celebrating The West Side’s Unique Musical Legacy" is on display at Monmouth University's Pollak Gallery through February 28, Mon - Fri 9:00 am - 7:00 pm and select weekends.

- February 16, 2015 - Lisa Iannucci reporting - photographs courtesy of [1,4,5] and Lisa Iannucci [2,3]


Now on, 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":

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.

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.

Read: A Post-MusiCares Conversation with Bill Flanagan

- February 13, 2015

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

Springsteen knockin' on Heaven's door, then and now.
The GRAMMYs YouTube Channel has posted a brief video montage of last week's ceremony honoring Bob Dylan as the 2015 MusiCares Person of the Year, closing with a longer pro-shot taste of Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" performed by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Morello et. al.

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 Greatest Hits-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

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.

See our Latest Additions, or shop for:

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

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 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 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

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



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


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: 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

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


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

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.

Sawyers is also the editor of Racing in the Street: The Bruce Springsteen Reader (which we consider essential) and author of Tougher Than the Rest: 100 Best Bruce Springsteen Songs.

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

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

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

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

This February, Monmouth University's Pollak Gallery will host an exhibit titled "Asbury Park’s Springwood Avenue Harmony – Celebrating the West Side’s Unique Musical Legacy." Curated by music historians Charlie and Pamela Horner, the exhibit will feature an extensive collection of photographs and memorabilia showcasing the doo wop, jazz and R&B musicians who forged a singular music scene on Asbury Park's West Side. 

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

Last week, 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

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

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


For The Album 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


We are happy to introduce Asbury Park's, 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 — 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 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

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."

Read: "Richard Ford on Bruce Springsteen's 'Wild Billy's Circus Story"

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."

For further reading, Bruce Springsteen, Cultural Studies, and the Runaway American Dream contains David N. Gellman's essay '''Darkness on the Edge of Town': Springsteen, Richard Ford, and the American Dream."
- January 21, 2015

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


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

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 Jeanette Jacob 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.

Guardian Angel
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


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

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."

Listen to "The Shakedown" here, Mindi and Max's collaboration on Wild Heart.

"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

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

New bumpersticker just in. More stickers here.
- January 13, 2015

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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The best concerts SSJ has ever seen, including Bruce at the Main Point [No Depression]
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We also post all known concert dates for some of our favorite Jersey Shore (and Shore-adopted) musicians:

Willie Nile
Bobby Bandiera
Southside Johnny
John Eddie
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.


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.

Check out the Springsteen Special Collection page for more info.

With the Ticketmaster / Live Nation merger approved, we encourage fans to get involved to help protect ticket-buyers.

Check our Fight the Monopoly page for the latest developments

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