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HAPPY HALLOWEEN 2017 FROM COUNT CLARENCE
While he's long been associated with the joy of Christmas on E Street, Clarence Clemons might not spring as readily to mind when enjoying some Halloween horrors. Nevertheless, the ghost of Big Man can be found right there partying with all of the other spirits, ghouls and goblins associated with All Hallows' Eve.
Let's start with the beautiful black-and-white image above, where Count Clarence has donned a Dracula-like cape and looks like he's wailing away on the set of a classic Universal monster movie. It's from a photograph by Chris Walter, shot at the now-demolished Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on Halloween 1980. That was the night that Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band opened their show with a rockin' version of the Jumpin' Gene Simmons classic "Haunted House" right after Bruce emerged from a coffin and grabbed his guitar. "Better be GONE when the morning comes," Clarence warned both Bruce and the crowd ominously.
It wouldn't be the only time that Clarence's presence was used to try to lure somebody away from messing with dangerous supernatural beings. In Stephen King's novel IT, the character of Richie Tozier has grown up to be one of Los Angeles' top disc-jockeys in 1985. When Richie decides to return to Derry, Maine and rejoin his childhood friends to fight IT once more, Richie's KLAD program director Steve Covall is more than a bit perplexed:
"What do you mean, going away? According to the log I have right here in front of me, you're on the air tomorrow from two in the afternoon until six p.m., just like always. In fact, you're interviewing Clarence Clemons in the studio at four. You know Clarence Clemons, Rich? As in 'Come on and blow, Big Man'?"
"Clemons can talk to Mike O'Hara as well as he can to me."
"Clarence doesn't want to talk to Mike, Rich. Clarence doesn't want to talk to Bobby Russell. He doesn't want to talk to me. Clarence is a big fan of Buford Kissdrivel and Wyatt the Homicidal Bag-Boy. He wants to talk to you, my friend. And I have no interest in having a pissed-off two-hundred-and-fifty-pound saxophone player who was once almost drafted by a pro football team running amok in my studio."
"I don't think he has a history of running amok," Rich said. "I mean, we're talking Clarence Clemons here, not Keith Moon."
King's novel also opened with a line from "Born in the U.S.A." and name-checked Springsteen, along with several more of his songs, throughout the plot. The Clarence mention didn't make it into the 1990 television adaptation of IT (which changed adult Richie Tozier from a top L.A. DJ to a popular comedian.) It's also unlikely to make it into the planned sequel to this year's highly successful film adaptation, which has moved the timeline about thirty years forward from the novel's timeline.
Stephen King again wrote about Clarence Clemons in his 2000 non-fiction book On Writing. This time, however, the focus was on Clarence's real-life impact on his son Owen, who grew up to be a writer himself, most recently collaborating with his father on Sleeping Beauties:
When my son Owen was seven or so, he fell in love with Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, particularly with Clarence Clemons, the band's burly sax player. Owen decided he wanted to learn to play like Clarence. My wife and I were amused and delighted by this ambition. We were also hopeful, as any parent would be, that our kid would turn out to be talented, perhaps even some sort of prodigy. We got Owen a tenor saxophone for Christmas and lessons with Gordon Bowie, one of the local music men. Then we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.
Seven months later I suggested to my wife that it was time to discontinue the sax lessons, if Owen concurred. Owen did, and with palpable relief — he hadn't wanted to say it himself, especially not after asking for the sax in the first place, but seven months had been long enough for him to realize that, while he might love Clarence Clemons's big sound, the saxophone was simply not for him — God had not given him that particular talent.
Young Owen King shouldn't have felt bad at all, of course. There is, was, and always will be only one Big Man. And as we've noted already, he still can be found among all those spirits partying away every Halloween, just as he was back in 1990 in this vintage Miller Lite ad:
DVR ALERT: U.S. PREMIERE OF 2016 SPRINGSTEEN DOC, 11/26 Bruce Springsteen: In His Own Words is coming to BBC America for its U.S. premiere next month. The documentary originally aired in late 2016 on Britain's Channel 4; HBO Canada showed it in May. Directed by Nigel Cole, In His Own Words will debut on BBC America on November 26 at 10pm Eastern. From the channel's website:
Throughout the documentary, Bruce will explore his early years growing up in Freehold, New Jersey, recounting the seminal moments that fueled his relentless drive to become a musician, his years as a bar band king in Asbury Park, the rise of the E Street Band and his eventual ascendancy to the top of Rock's hierarchy.
Bruce's conversation will be supported by rare and previously unseen archive of Bruce at various stages throughout his life, provided in consultation with the Grammy and Emmy award-winning filmmaker Thom Zimny, who has collaborated with Bruce for the past 18 years.
BBC America president Sarah Barnett says, "This documentary is fully Bruce, in his own words, speaking directly to audiences. With limited interruptions, fans can fully immerse themselves in this fantastic film, experiencing an intimate connection with a remarkable storyteller." - October 30, 2017
THE BAND WAS JUMPIN' AND THE JOINT BEGAN TO SWING
Birthday boy Garry Tallent joins Max Weinberg in Nashville
Celebrating his 68th birthday today, Garry Tallent was a special guest with Max Weinberg's Jukebox
this week in his hometown. At the Nashville City Winery on Wednesday night, the E Street rhythm section reunited for "Jailhouse Rock." The performance was in honor of Elvis Presley drummer DJ Fontana, who was also in the house, joining Garry to take in Max's show.
Max talked about how seeing Fontana with Elvis on the Milton Berle show made him want to be a drummer. That wasn't the only tribute of the evening: the first fan request Max took was for Tom Petty's "American Girl," and when a request came for a Fats Domino song, he and his Jukebox band broke out "I'm Walking."
Garry wasn't the only guest performer either: Max gave up his drum seat to his son (and E Street fill-in) Jay Weinberg, who played on the Ramones' "Blitzkreig Bop" and Bruce Springsteen's "Radio Nowhere." (The latter was Jay's signature performance as an E Streeter and, as the proud dad related to the crowd, Bruce told him that Jay played it better.)
Max tried to get Garry to play another after "Jailhouse Rock," but the Tennessee Terror appeared happy with just the one and went back to his table — under which he modestly ducked, getting some laughs, when Max went out to the crowd to introduce him. But you just can't hide that kind of Tallent... happy birthday, Garry! - October 27, 2017 - photographs by Michael Bodayle
THROWBACK THURSDAY: JULY 1, 2000 Photographer Rocco Coviello captured the night of the latest Nugs release
again, we bring you sights to go with the sounds: as you're listening to the newest installment in Springsteen's live archive, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, July 1, 2000, let your eyes feast on these images from that night, the final show of the E Street Band's reunion tour, courtesy of our pal Rocco Coviello.
For more of Rocco's photography, visit roccosphototavern.com. From now through October 31 at midnight, use the discount coupon code BACKSTREETS for 20% off all prints. - October 26, 2017
"THOUGH WE'RE APART, YOU'RE PART OF ME STILL..."
The sad news broke today that we've lost another of rock 'n' roll's founders, Fats Domino, who died yesterday at 89. Jay Lustig at NJArts.net surveys Domino's influence on E Street and the available audio of Bruce Springsteen's Domino covers over the years. Click here to read and listen.
Several times in 1981 while speaking from the stage during the original River Tour, Springsteen identified as one of his favorite song lines the couplet "Though we're apart, you're part of me still," from Domino's version of "Blueberry Hill."
According to Max Weinberg's official BruceSpringsteen.net bio, it was Max's performance on a version of Fats Domino's and Dave Bartholomew's "Let the Four Winds Blow" during his E Street Band audition that got him the gig. Listen here to Bruce and the band's epic medley of "Let the Four Winds Blow" and another Domino classic, "I'm Ready," broadcast live by WMMS-FM from Cleveland's Agora Ballroom on June 3, 1974. - October 25, 2017 - Shawn Poole reporting - special thanks to Ryan Hilligoss
PRE-ORDER LIKE A KILLER IN THE SUN, SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR Bruce Springsteen: Like a Killer in the Sun was originally published in Italian; thanks to Backbeat Books, November brings its first English edition. And here at Backstreet Records, we're happy to keep your shelf of signed books expanding.
This hefty hardcover, subtitled Selected Lyrics, 1972 - 2017, presents, annotates, and examines more than 100 of Springsteen's greatest lyrics, with author and longtime Springsteen follower Leonardo Colombati engaging in some fascinating literary criticism. Colombati also put together an engaging biographical timeline for this volume, with forewords by Dave Marsh and Ennio Morricone.
In November, Colombati will be signing for Backstreets customers — a cherry on top for anyone who might be looking at Killer in the Sun as a perfect gift for the holidays.
Pre-order now, and we'll ship to customers right after Leo signs for us in mid-November.
SPRINGSTEEN CALLS CADENCE IN FILM OPENING FRIDAY
As I reported last month, one of the genuine surprises of the upcoming film Thank You For Your Service was the inclusion of a new song by Bruce Springsteen over the end credits.
The film stars Miles Teller and is written and directed by Jason Hall, who is probably best known for his Oscar-nominated, adapted screenplay for Clint Eastwood's American Sniper. Based on David Finkel's book by the same name, Thank You For Your Service covers a lot of authentic ground about the plight of the modern-day veteran's return home and the post-war struggles to reestablish a normal life.
Springsteen's contribution to the film is a dirge-like take on the "Freedom" marching cadence, often known as "Some Say Freedom is Free," credited to PFC Roger L. Southard (I'm pretty sure I saw Ron Aniello listed in the credits as producer, likely along with Springsteen).
I recently had a conversation with director Hall, star Teller, and Adam Schumann, subject of Finkel's book and the real-life veteran Teller portrays. I was able to shed a little light on how one gets Springsteen on board and how the track came to be. This is actually how the interview began:
Steve Prokopy: I'll ask you the first question, Jason, because it's the most important question you're going to get today.
Jason Hall: Knock it out.
SP: How the hell do you get Bruce Springsteen to do a new song for your movie?
JH: Adam got him to do it.
Adam Schumann: Sort of. I think it was more Jon [Kilik, producer, who is best known for doing producing a great number of Spike Lee’s films as well as The Hunger Games movies].
JH: Adam had a cadence that they sang in boot camp, and Jon recorded him singing it on his cell phone. Jon is friends with Bruce and played it for him. Bruce was like, "Oh, that's cool. How'd the movie turn out?" "Movie turned out great." We played him the movie. Bruce loved it, watched it twice, and then said, "Send me that recording, come back in a month, and bring that kid." So Adam went up there with Jon and recorded the song with him.
SP: Are you on the song, Adam? I know there's a male choir on it.
AS: Yeah, I'm in the background there. We all chime in. It's me, Jon Kilik, and Bruce Springsteen.
SP: I'm familiar with versions of that song, and I know different people do it different ways…
JH: Yeah, Bruce rewrote some of the lyrics to the song.
SP: If I heard it right, some of the lyrics are callbacks to "Born in the U.S.A." even. There are new words in there. But that's the nature of that song, right? Don't different people tailor it to their experience?
AS: Yeah, once you hear a cadence in basic training, it just becomes that mantra in your head, so you carry that on wherever you go, and then when you've got guys under you and you're calling cadence, you call the same one. So it's just passed down through generations, but changed from time to time.
Miles Teller: You got the scoop! [everybody laughs]
The film opens this Friday, October 27, with free tickets being made available for veterans and active military. Visit thankyouforyourservicemovie.com for further details. - October 23, 2017 - Steve Prokopy reporting
FROM ONE GREAT SONGWRITER TO ANOTHER
Courtesy of our pal Rich Russo, here’s an excellent YouTube clip of legendary songwriter Mike Stoller introducing Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul at their October 19 Orpheum Theatre gig in L.A. We even get a snippet of Stevie and the Disciples opening the show with their version of Tom Petty's classic "Even the Losers."
SEEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT ON BROADWAY
Spotted in the crowd at Wednesday's Springsteen on Broadway: Billy Joel, Jimmy Kimmel, and Howard Stern. At right, Billy's probably looking down at the other two from his "Abraham Lincoln" spot, hoping to get their attention, as he told it last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Watch the clip above to see Billy and Jimmy debrief, after all that heat generated on 48th Street.
Billy even does a pretty passable Boss impersonation after naming his favorite Springsteen song. Almost as cool as his pick is the fact that he could call out the chords to Paul Shaffer as he sang. And just as cool as that: managing to pick a song that Shaffer didn't know.
Joel also tipped a hat to Broadway with a performance of his own "Miami 2017," watch it here, and the full interview is here. - October 20, 2017 - photograph by Harvey C. Brill
STEVIE ON SPRINGSTEEN'S "REMARKABLE" BROADWAY SHOW AND MORE
We've already heard Steven Van Zandt's review of Springsteen on Broadway — at least, the nutshell version: "Spoiler Alert! It was fucking great!" In a new interview with Billboard, Stevie refines and expands on that a bit as he talks about potential future plans:
Bruce's thing is fluid at the moment. He's done [on Broadway] in February. It's such a remarkable show. I saw it twice. My hope, and I haven't spoke to him about this, but I would hope for the rest of the world to get the chance to see it, maybe he would take it on the road a little bit. This is not inside information. For all I know he may stay on Broadway forever or not or say, "Let's do an E Street Band tour."
He says of Tom Petty, "We were really friendly without ever talking and that's kind of weird, but I felt very close to him." You'll want to catch Stevie enumerating his Five Crafts of Rock 'n' Roll, too. It's a great conversation with Melinda Newman.
- October 20, 2017 - photography by Jerry Frishman
2018 CALENDAR IN STOCK NOW An annual favorite holiday gift has arrived: the official Bruce Springsteen calendar for the new year from Thrill Hill.
This one consists entirely of Springsteen images (with and without the E Street Band) as shot by Frank Stefanko.
For each month, the new calendar features striking his portraits from the Darkness, River, and Nebraska eras, through to shots from this millennium, onstage and off, in color and black & white.
Stefanko is the cover photographer for Darkness, The River, the Born to Run memoir and Chapter and Verse. Frank also has a limited edition, career-spanning book of his Springsteen photography coming next month from Italy's Wall of Sound (we're still taking pre-orders for the Collectors and Deluxe editions of Further Up the Road).
But for a fraction of that price, with the new 2018 calendar you can have his images up on your wall all year long.
"A LONG LOST BROTHER": SPRINGSTEEN ON PETTY IN ROLLING STONE Rolling Stone's David Fricke spoke with a number of Tom Petty's friends, bandmates, and peers for the magazine's lengthy tribute, "Remembering Tom Petty, 1950-2017," including Lucinda Williams, Peter Wolf, Stevie Nicks, Benmont Tench, Mike Campbell, Dhani Harrison, manager Tony Dimitriades, and Bruce Springsteen. Recalling receiving the news of Petty's death, Springsteen told Fricke:
I got the phone call and told the folks in my house. There were shrieks of horror. You couldn't quite believe it. We were from the same generation of rock & rollers. We started around the same time and had a lot of the same influences. And when I lived in California, I got to know him quite well. He was just a lovely guy who loved rock & roll and came up the hard way.
Rolling Stone has also published more of Fricke's conversation with Springsteen, which took place two days after Bruce dedicated his first Springsteen on Broadway preview to Petty. "My recollection of the time I spent with him was very lovely," Bruce says. "When we left California, I didn't see him as much. But when I did, it was like bumping into a long, lost brother. Patti and I — we were devastated. It's unimaginable, losing him."
Fricke lets Springsteen have the last word in the tribute:
"It's sad that he's gone," Springsteen says of Petty, "but it was nice to be alive in his lifetime." And the work remains. "Good songs stay written. Good records stay made. They are always filled with the promise and hope and life essence of their creator.
"Tom made a lot of great music," Springsteen points out, "enough to carry people forward."
- October 18, 2017 - photograph by PJay Plutzer [Paradise Theater, Boston, MA, 1978]
THE FRIENDS OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN SPECIAL COLLECTION, INC. DONATES THOUSANDS OF ITEMS TO MONMOUTH UNIVERSITY Expansive collection finds permanent home at Springsteen Archives Per today's press release:
Much of the Collection, comprised of Springsteen's written works, photographs, periodicals, and artifacts, had been on loan to the University for the past six years. Now it has been formally gifted to the University for inclusion in the Archives by The Friends of the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection, Inc., a not-for-profit organization for people interested in helping to preserve the history of Bruce Springsteen and his music.
"When Bob Crane and I started this collection more than 15 years ago, we imagined something big: something impressive, permanent, and unique, an unparalleled resource of use to fans, students, and scholars around the world," said Christopher Phillips, publisher and editor of Backstreets and president of the Friends of the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection.
"Given the importance of Bruce Springsteen's work in our own lives," Phillips continues, "we wanted to preserve and consolidate all this material before it faded away. But I don't think either of us imagined how much the collection would grow — thanks to the dedication, labor, and generosity of fans worldwide — and that we'd eventually find such a perfect home. As a founder, I couldn't be more pleased to have discovered a partner in Monmouth University to preserve and expand the collection for future generations. And to be able to augment Bruce Springsteen's personal archive is literally a dream come true."
The Bruce Springsteen Special Collection originated in the summer of 2001 when Backstreets organized a fan-to-fan campaign to collect and organize essential documents from each phase of Springsteen's career, ensuring that the historic record would be publicly accessible to all who have a serious interest in Bruce Springsteen's life and music.
Originally held in the Asbury Park Public Library, the university acquired the collection on loan in 2011. At that time, the Asbury Park Public Library also donated its own collection to the University. The collection offers Springsteen fans the chance to explore various aspects of his career. Students, scholars, and journalists continue to benefit from the enhanced access to the diverse holdings.
The collection has continued to grow with the addition of recordings, photographs, oral histories, film footage, and other documents, totaling nearly 35,000 items from 47 countries, all of which will be housed in The Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music at Monmouth University.
"The Archives represent a learning opportunity for our students that will resound for decades to come," said Kenneth Womack, dean of the Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Monmouth University. "We owe a great debt to the Friends for establishing the Collection and for working with Monmouth University to expand the holdings and seek out new ways for sharing music education across our local communities and beyond."
The Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music will preserve and promote the legacy of Bruce Springsteen and his role in American music, while honoring and celebrating icons of American music like Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, Hank Williams, Frank Sinatra, and others. The expanded partnership will help to more deeply integrate the history and inspiration of American music into the curriculum and research experience at Monmouth. It will also serve to bolster an already highly successful music industry program at the university, one of only 14 university affiliates of the GRAMMY Museum. - October 18, 2017
CHANCES WE GOTTA TAKE Two contests each offer a pair of Springsteen on Broadway tix
Still looking to score tix for Springsteen on Broadway? In addition to the daily lottery, one of these contests just might be your lucky day.
The producers of the musical comedy Getting' the Band Back Together, which will make its Broadway debut next summer, are holding a random drawing to give away a pair of tickets (valued at $200 each) to the Saturday, December 30 performance of Springsteen on Broadway.
You must answer an online question correctly to be entered into the random drawing, but it's multiple-choice and anyone who visits this site regularly (or, frankly, has a pulse) can ace it. According to the official rules, the contest is "open to all humans age 21 or older at time of entry. Residents of Taiwan, South Korea, Portugal, Italy, Austria, China, Russia, Hong Kong, Greece, France, Japan, Spain, and Czech Republic are not eligible to enter or win." The entry deadline is November 2, 11:45 pm UTC. Click here for the rest of the rules and to enter.
The independent newspaper/website, which has covered public-education issues in the Philadelphia area for almost a quarter-century, is offering to one lucky winner a pair of orchestra seats (total value "at just under $1500") for the Friday, November 24 performance.
The Notebook's random-drawing contest is open to all U.S. residents who are 18 or older at the time of entry (excluding Notebook employees and board members, of course. Full disclosure: This Philly-based writer and public-school administrator is a former member of the Notebook's advisory board.) If you donate $50 or more to the Notebook on or before November 10, you'll be automatically entered into the contest, and only one entry per person is allowed. If you're unable to make a $50 donation, you still can enter the contest, too. Click here for all of the details and to make your donation.
We're hoping to report on more opportunities to win Springsteen on Broadway tickets, and we're seeking help on that front from our readers. If you hear of any other "chances we gotta take," please let us know! - October 17, 2017 - Shawn Poole reporting
SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY: THE BACKSTREETS REVIEW
They say there's always magic in the air...
From the Magic Rat to "magic in the night" to Magic Street, Bruce Springsteen is no stranger to the conjuring arts. For decades, his concerts have been described as feats nothing short of miraculous, and he has discussed his own songwriting in terms of a magical act: creating, from out of the air, something where there was nothing before. Now he does it again. Written and directed by the man himself, Springsteen on Broadway is an act of alchemy, taking familiar elements — from his songbook, his concerts (particularly his solo tours), his memoir — and combining them, with a new venue, to create something we've never seen before, something that has had preview audiences… well, spellbound.
Opening October 12, the performance starts simply — not with a familiar "Good evening, New York City!" but instead with a list of essentials, stated plainly at center stage. In fact, as simple starts go, this is almost as basic as it gets: "DNA," says Bruce. That is just one of "the elements that will come in handy should you come face-to-face with eighty thousand screaming fans who are waiting for you to do your magic trick. Waiting for you to pull something out of your hat, out of thin air, out of this world…. I am here to provide proof of life to that ever elusive, never completely believable 'us.' That is my magic trick."
With just guitar, piano, harmonica, and a very talented magician's assistant billed as Patti Scialfa Springsteen, Bruce makes good on this implied opening promise. Chekhov would probably agree: if you talk in the first act about having a magic trick, you'd better demonstrate it by the end. And Springsteen doesn't let us down. It's hard to say exactly when it happens — it's a gradual effect, a gathering of forces, a calling-up of spirits, great greasepaint ghosts on the wind — but by the end of this at-times mesmerizing performance we've found that proof of life...
- October 12, 2017 - Christopher Phillips reporting - photograph by Rob DeMartin
SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY SEMI-FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Tonight, after a couple days off, Bruce Springsteen is back on the boards for Springsteen on Broadway. The show is still in previews as we enter its second week... but only for two more nights, with the big opening on Thursday.
Of course, we're bound by decades of theater-media tradition not to review Springsteenon Broadway while it's in previews, making the October 5 performance I was lucky enough to witness off-limits for setlists, spoilers or critical interpretation.
For instance, I can’t say "Holy (redacted)-ing (redacted)"; I can't tell you how many times my hair stood on end, how many tears fell, or how many times I had to stuff a Playbill in mouth to stop from screaming "HE'S PLAYING (REDACTED) ON (BLANK)" and getting booted right into Dear Evan Hansen. On the other hand, for hours after after I left the Walter Kerr, the best I could come up with is "Gah," and I'm pretty sure that doesn’t need to be redacted.
So instead of reviewing a show I can't review, or listing a setlist I can't list, I’ll instead share these few key pieces of safe, functional, non-review information for those Backstreets readers who may consider attending Springsteen on Broadway.
Can I bring a backpack? The nice people at Jujamcyn Theaters, which is a word I cannot say (every time I try, it comes out "calvary"), ask in a pre-show email to "Please avoid bringing large bags or backpacks" and later to "Please refrain from bringing large bags and backpacks." As you may have determined, these are less "hard restrictions" and more "polite requests." I brought in a backpack containing a portable charger, a notebook, my wife's backup shoes and a bag of airline almonds I'd totally forgotten about. But the seats are a tight enough squeeze that Jujamcyn probably has the right idea.
So do they check your bags? And how! Bags are inspected before you enter the theater, but we found the process speedy and friendly.
If I'm planning to have a drink or two, should I do so outside the theater first? SWEET SWORD OF ORION, YES, if you were put off by the $850 price tag, let me introduce you to the $25 Glass of Wine. To be fair, if you think of it as merch, too, maybe it's not so bad: drinks come in a commemorative Springsteen on Broadway plastic cup (which you can take home in your large backpack).
What’s the opening song? That is a trick question. Don’t think I can't see what you're doing.
Do I act like I'm at a concert or on Broadway? It'll be interesting to see how this develops. Night 3 felt a vibrant but sometimes strange mix of the two. For my money, I'd have liked a little more cheering and singing along ["Noooooooo!" —Ed.]. This show was the first time I didn’t actively sing along to (redacted) — but it does feel weird to do so in a Broadway theater. I imagine audiences will dictate this going forward.
Can you take pictures during the show? The courteous and professional staff did a heroic job of reminding people that their tickets indicated no photos or video were allowed inside the theater, which was probably huge news to the rugby scrum of people holding portrait sessions right in front of the stage. Once the lights dim, photogs are pretty easy to spot, since phones comes with a luminous light-blue glow that's also a huge narc.
Do I get a Playbill? Yes! It's Broadway, after all. And it's a bit of a spoiler, but we can confirm that the cast includes Bruce Springsteen. The show is also written and directed by Bruce Springsteen. If this sounds a little like Mr. Burns's movie, yes.
Is that Mr. Landau? Probably! Springsteenon Broadway Producer Jon Landau was in the house on Night 3, posing for selfies and taking credit for writing many of Bruce's songs. (He's kidding.) On the way out, someone in the crowd yelled to Jon asking how Bruce kept doing it. Landau's response: "Good management!"
When should I get there? Our show started at 8 — and promptly at 8 — and the doors opened at 7. We waltzed right in at 7:05, after the security check. Others who arrived at 7:30 had a bit of a longer line but were still inside with plenty of time to settle in.
What's the merch situation? I am pretty sure that even in the context of a non-review I can say that Springsteen on Broadway objectively features the Smallest Bruce Springsteen Merch Table Since 1969, and I have to think that some of the Jersey VFWs at least had a folding table for Castiles soap or something. The line will be pretty long before the show, but both merch tables are open after, as is a larger table outside in the breezeway by the Crowne Plaza. $40 for T-shirts, $65 for a hoodie, $40 for a poster. There were coffee mugs, but I'll just use my $25 wine cup.
If, hypothetically some wang's cell phone keeps making noises behind you, particularly during the end of (redacted) and during the (redacted) part where he's (redacteding) on the (redacted) and you can't believe you're actually hearing (redacted), what is your appopriate response? Grab the person's phone out of their hands and ask an usher to take it out to 48th Street so cabbies can drive over it. They’ll probably say yes.
What was your favorite song? I literally never thought I would hear (redacted) live. Or the (redacted) version of (redacted). Gah. - October 10, 2017 - Jeff Vrabel reporting
KACF AUCTION FOR FRONT ROW, OPENING NIGHT, ENDS TOMORROW
For the bigger spenders out there: a benefit auction is live now for a special Springsteen on Broadway opening night package: two front-row, orchestra-center tickets for the October 12 performance, plus
entry to the afterparty.
Visit kacfauction.com to bid; auction closes Wednesday, October 11, at 4:30pm Eastern. - October 10, 2017
FROM US THERE IS MUCH TO LEARN New doc RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked The Worldfeatures Little Steven among the participants
Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day. If you're in the Milwaukee area this evening, there's no better way to celebrate than catching tonight's screening of RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked The World, the new documentary about the indigenous influence on American popular music. See the official trailer above, and click here to buy tickets for tonight's screening.
Steven Van Zandt is among the many musicians interviewed in the film. Here's a bit of Stevie on the important and enduring influence that Shawnee Indian Link Wray's "Rumble" riff has had on rock and roll:
Bruce Springsteen actually recorded with Link Wray, playing piano on the version of Springsteen's "Fire" that Robert Gordon recorded with Wray in 1977. (Click here for some great audio of Gordon, Springsteen and Wray performing "Heartbreak Hotel" in New York on the night after they recorded "Fire" together.) Wray later sat in with Springsteen and the E Street Band during their concerts on June 2, 1981 in London and July 25, 1988 in Copenhagen.
In 2005, shortly after the news of Link Wray's death broke, Springsteen paid tribute by opening with a cover of "Rumble" at each of his final two shows on the Devils & Dust Tour.
Screenings of RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked The World currently are scheduled to continue across the U.S. and internationally through early 2018. Click here to find a screening near you. As of October 24, RUMBLE also will be available in DVD and VOD formats via iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. - October 9, 2017 - Shawn Poole reporting
30 YEARS AGO TODAY
Happy birthday to Tunnel of Love, released October 9, 1987.
Update: Or was it October 6? Signs point to yes; that would have been a Tuesday in 1987, the day of new releases. In any case: the impeccable Tunnel of Love turns 30 this week, one of Springsteen's most adult-oriented albums leaving its twenties behind. - October 9, 2017
I CAME TO JAM
Watch Nils Lofgren wing it with musician friends in Blind Date Jam
How does Nils Lofgren spend his downtime between solo touring, recording, and E Street Band tours? By getting back to the unbridled joy and spontaneity of just playing music with fellow musicians. With his Blind Date Jam project, you can watch him do it.
Lofgren explains the Blind Date Jam as a concept "where musicians jam with no rehearsal, no homework, no advance discussions. I throw out an idea and we go to town and see where it leads us. Reckless, raw, unique and in the moment. Trust and enjoy our musical instincts interacting in the freedom of the unknown."
Digital video download of the new installment, an 80-minute jam, is available for pre-orders at nilslofgren.com now and will be released on November 17.
Here's a taste:
In August, Lofgren was welcomed into the Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame, along with Phoenix's Meat Puppets and Tempe's Gin Blossoms. Though Nils in his early career was associated with the Washington DC area and Southern California, the induction program notes: "He grew fond of Arizona and eventually settled in Scottsdale, where he has been for over two decades. Nils and his wife Amy are involved in local charitable causes and he plays in local venues with Arizona musicians."
Backstreets reader Kim Smokowski was there for the ceremony at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, telling us it was "a really great night — Nils started his performance with 'Wonderland' and was well received by the crowd. He thanked everyone including his wife Amy — talking about how their first and second dates were 15 years apart — and son and friends who were there. He came out and joined the Gin Blossoms on 'Hey Jealousy' as well and killed it with his guitar solo."
Watch his induction video below.
- October 9, 2017 - thanks to Kim Smokowski for the Induction program
MAX WEINBERG TO HOST AN EVENING WITH PRISCILLA PRESLEY
"Elvis & Me" special event in NJ as Max's Jukebox tour rolls on
On October 27, Priscilla Presley will appear at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ, in conversation with host Max Weinberg. Elvis & Me features Mighty Max interviewing Priscilla about her fascinating life and also moderating a Q&A with questions from the audience.
Thanks to our friends at the State Theatre, we have a special discount for Backstreets readers: use the promo code mighty when ordering tickets online at stnj.org or by phone at (732) 246-7469 (discount does not apply to meet and greet package).
The event with Priscilla falls in between stops of Max Weinberg's Jukebox 2017 Tour, which resumes tomorrow night in Milwaukee. In October, November, and December, you'll be able to catch the all-request Jukebox show up and down the east coast — see below for dates.
- Max Weinberg's Jukebox at the Stone Pony, 8/30/17 - photograph by Jeff Crespi
BACK TO THE GARDEN: NYC, JULY 1, 2000
New download presents final Reunion show, complete!
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band wrapped up their 1999-2000 "Reunion" tour with a ten-night stand at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the last of which, July 1, 2000, is the latest installment in Springsteen's live archive series. Most of 7/1 appeared in 2001 as Live in New York City (in combination with material from 6/29), but this release features the entire 28-song tour finale and a new Jon Altschiller mix.
Named the Reunion tour by fans, the 1999/2000 trek was Springsteen's first with the E Street Band since the Human Rights Now! Tour in 1988; after spending much of the '90s creating music that was decidedly not from the classic E Street mold, such a reunion often seemed like a pipe dream to fans. One listen to the call and response between Springsteen and fans on "Atlantic City" from this night, with the intensity rising on each pass, shows how much in concert they were throughout the tour.
This era's complex setlists celebrated the band's history, re-examined Springsteen's solo work, and looked to the future. For most of the tour, the setlist embraced classic songs from Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, The River, and Born in the U.S.A. Springsteen made room for solo work, outtakes (from the 1998 box set Tracks), and a new song written specially for the tour, "Land of Hope and Dreams." By tour's end, Springsteen had added more off-E Street material and new, unreleased songs. That gave the later shows a forward-looking tilt.
One new song, "American Skin (41 Shots)," debuted in June 2000 in Atlanta, right before the Garden run. It recalls a 1999 police shooting of an unarmed African man in New York City, and it touched a nerve. Perceived by some as anti-cop, the song made headlines, a genuine achievement for something practically no one had heard. The head of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association called for a boycott, and others called Springsteen derogatory names. Against that backdrop of tension, the NYC shows set to end the tour, originally viewed as a celebration, took on a much different tone.
Springsteen met that tension head on, opening in New York with another new song, "Code of Silence." It would open seven of the ten Garden shows, including the finale. And, yes, "American Skin" was in the set that very first night (June 12), earning boos, cheers, and a few middle fingers. Undeterred, Springsteen kept it in the set, usually following its lamentation with a rejuvenated performance of "The Promised Land."
Between the audio and video releases of Live in New York City, much from the last two shows at Madison Square Garden exists officially (that includes a promo CD with two songs from 6/29, "My Hometown" and "This Hard Land"; "Code of Silence" appeared as a bonus track on the 2003 Essential CD). Though non-LP B-sides are always welcome, fans wondered: why not release the entire show? Well, today's installment of the "First Friday" series does just that, and it includes the missing nuggets that made this show special, such as the first live E Street Band release of "Further On (Up the Road)," one of four new songs Springsteen premiered over that last month of the tour (leaving only "Another Thin Line" on the shelf).
Of course, the most welcome addition is the show-closing "Blood Brothers," easily the emotional high point of the tour. Springsteen had written a new verse for this final performance that raised the song from the ambivalence of its Greatest Hits arrangement ("I don't know how I feel"); the new lyrics paid tribute to his longtime relationship with the E Street Band, surprising many and moving more than a few to tears, including a few on stage.
- July 1, 2000 - photograph by Paul Kaytes
This version of 7/1 features a mix by Jon Altschiller, who has worked on every Springsteen Nugs title since early 2016. Like Bob Clearmountain's mix for Live in New York City, it's excellent — they are professionals, after all — but there are a few differences. The biggest is that Altschiller mixed Bruce's vocals slightly lower. While that may read like a negative, it means Bruce's vocals blend with the rest of the band in a more natural way, making for a warmer sound overall. This is especially evident in the louder songs, such as "Murder Incorporated" and "My Love Will Not Let You Down."
Altschiller uses a different approach to get the "live" sound for which his mixes are known. First, he's created a drum sound that focuses more on the bass, which, again, gives it a warmer and deeper sound. This emphasis also provides the "big" arena sound, whereas Clearmountain used reverb to convey the feel of the venue. Additionally, he mixes in more audience sound to give it that "you are there" feel.
Fans of the of the E Street Band's three-pronged guitar attack will have a field day with this release. Altschiller has mixed Nils, Steven, and Bruce so that each guitarist is easily identifiable during most of the show, with any solo standing out. In fact, their guitars are panned in accordance with where the band members stood on stage. During "Murder Incorporated," for example, Nils is panned left, Steven to the right, and Bruce center, placing the listener in the front row.
- July 1, 2000 - photograph by Ken Lesnik
Compared to other reunion-era tours, setlists in 1999/2000 were relatively static. A handful of slots stayed open for rotation, and each night fans watched the one post-"Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" for a wild card. On July 1, Springsteen played two such songs. "The E Street Shuffle" he introduced by saying, "Let's continue to be silly, now!" (after having fun with the band intros during "Tenth"). The second was a stunner: the first performance of "Lost in the Flood" since 1978. In the encore, "The Promise" appeared in a solo piano arrangement, one of only four times he played it on the tour (including the March '99 rehearsals).
While the "American Skin"/"Promised Land" one-two punch constitutes this show's "big statement," another combination not only manifested a career-long anti-war theme, but also worked well in a musical sense: the searing guitar solo at the end of "Lost in the Flood" flowing perfectly into the Delta blues opening riff of the acoustic "Born in the U.S.A."
- July 1, 2000 - photograph by Rocco Coviello
Fifteen months earlier, on the cold boardwalk at Asbury Park's Convention Hall, Springsteen introduced "If I Should Fall Behind" by saying that first show was a "re-dedication of our band… and our commitment to serve." Now, on the last night of the tour, Bruce echoed those comments and added, "I hope we've done that well this year, and we'll continue to try and do so." Seventeen years and six tours later, that dedication and commitment endure.
THE JOY OF MUSIC:
SPRINGSTEEN IN VARIETY
It was inevitable that Bruce Springsteen would do some press before Springsteen on Broadway's opening night, and given that he's now stepping over that line into EGOT (Emmy / Grammy / Oscar / Tony) land, it made all the sense in the world that one of those interviews would go to Variety. It's not a publication that most music fans are reading on the regular, but they cover the wide swath of "entertainment" better than anyone else.
This might be why the Variety interview by Jem Aswad managed to coax out quotes and information that were new, fresh, and revealing, and that provided some insight to why Springsteen on Broadway is happening right now. Much of the discussion focused on Bruce's legacy and how he himself views it — the old "getting all summational" that we're accustomed to at the end of a tour, not the beginning of one — but it arrives there indirectly, through the act of the interview. And although Springsteen is a skilled interview subject well capable of deftly parrying questions he does not want to answer, the conversation provided many thoughtful moments. It's one of those pieces you'll want to read through a few times.
On why certain music gets released and other music does not:
We've made many more records than we released. Why didn't we release those records? I didn't think they were essential. I might have thought they were good, I might have had fun making them, and we've released plenty of that music [on archival collections over the years]. But over my entire work life, I felt like I released what was essential at a certain moment, and what I got in return was a very sharp definition of who I was, what I want to do, what I was singing about. And I still basically judge what I'm doing by the same set of rules.
About that Aaron Copland album in the can:
"I don't know if anybody made that particular connection. Really, that record is influenced by Southern California pop music of the '70s."
On the definition of "Jersey Soul," and what makes the E Street Band different:
There's a lot of bands that are good at playing hard or playing cool, but there aren't a lot of bands that do joy very much. And one of the things the E Street Band aspired to was a certain joyful feeling that I particularly got from the Italian side of my family, which I was always able to communicate to a big crowd.
On political songwriting:
"I never wanted to be just a proselytizer for an ideological point of view. That's not my job; that's somebody else's job. And if you even look back to Woody Guthrie's material, he didn't do that. He wrote these very full character pieces that, whether you were there in the Depression or not, they live today. They weren't hollow, they weren't one-dimensional; they were these very full character pieces about the times. I still aspire to that, really, and if it has political implications that's fine and if it doesn't that's fine too."
On being married to someone you work with:
"Some places we have a more professional approach, like if I walk into the studio while she's working, I have certain boundaries where if she requests my opinion or asks for my help, I give it on a very professional level."
On his relationship with Jon Landau:
"My relationship with Jon [Landau, Springsteen's manager since the mid-1970s] is one in a million and one of the most important relationships in my life, and it's maintained its creative edge since the day we got together. I still feel an excitement when we get on the phone together — like something could happen! We might learn something together that we haven't known the other 10,000 times we've talked."
- October 6, 2017 - Caryn Rose reporting - Variety cover photograph by Danny Clinch
THE CITY WEEPS TONIGHT
Sunday night in Philly, Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul ended another wonderful evening of great music with what has become their standard set-closer of late, "Out of the Darkness." In a manner very similar to what he had done the week before in Port Chester, NY (see video above), Stevie introduced the song by telling the crowd, "We're in for some dark times... It's more important than ever that we stick together and love each other, and together we will find our ways out of the darkness." Of course, nobody onstage or in the audience knew what would occur a few hours later out in Las Vegas. Nevertheless there were no better words, and no better song, with which to face the next day's news.
At his very next show in Baltimore on Monday night, Steve and his band also paid tribute to the late, great Tom Petty with a version of Petty's classic "Even the Losers" that was soaked in mournful horns. Below, more images from that night in Baltimore, through the lens of Jerry Frishman.
And the Soulfire tour rolls on, hitting Ohio on Friday night.
Get there if you can. - October 5, 2017 - Shawn Poole reporting - photographs by Jerry Frishman
THROWBACK THURSDAY, TOM PETTY EDITION: "IT WAS OUT ON THUNDER ROAD..."
Back in 2013, Tom Petty sat down with Rolling Stone’s Andy Greene after Petty & the Heartbreakers had just finished a small series of intimate, rarities-filled concerts in Hollywood and New York. Among the highlights of these concerts were the first public performances of "Tweeter and the Monkey Man," a Traveling Wilburys song long thought to have been written primarily — if not solely — by Bob Dylan, who sang the lead vocal on the recorded Wilburys version. Petty revealed to Greene, however, that the song actually was a Dylan/Petty collaboration. He also affirmed that while the song was filled with imagery from and references to Bruce Springsteen songs, it was intended as a respectful homage as opposed to a spiteful parody.
"Yeah, it was not meant to mock him at all," Petty told Greene. "The song was supposed to... It started with Bob Dylan saying, 'I want to write a song about a guy named Tweeter. And it needs somebody else.' I said, 'The Monkey Man.' And he says, 'Perfect. Tweeter and the Monkey Man.' And he said, 'Okay, I want to write the story and I want to set it in New Jersey.' I was like, 'Okay, New Jersey.' And he was like, 'Yeah, we could use references to Bruce Springsteen titles.' He clearly meant it as praise. We weren't trying to knock anybody, and there's not much of it in there anyway. So we sat and wrote the song. The English guys [George Harrison and Jeff Lynne] left, actually. It was the only song that they were like, 'This is just too American. We're out on this one.' So the two of us just sat there for most of the afternoon, and then we edited it down the next day."
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' epic live version was almost twice the length of the Traveling Wilburys record. A professional recording from New York’s Beacon Theatre was featured on the fan-club-only release Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Live 2013. The fan-filmed video above is a slightly longer version performed at Hollywood's Fonda Theatre. - October 5, 2017 - Shawn Poole reporting - special thanks to Jeff Calaway
SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY, PREVIEW 2
Wednesday, October 4
A non-spoiler note: The best Broadway shows do more than educate or entertain. Something happens in a theater that differs from what takes place at a lecture or a concert. There is present what Springsteen calls a "third entity," an experience that transcends the verbal and the musical to become something else: captivating, emotional, visceral. When it succeeds, you feel it. This is the magic of the theater, and Springsteen, who in his autobiography describes his success as a master illusionist and a magician, aims dead center for that mysterious theatrical ether.
The show made me laugh, weep (twice), and like all great theater helped me understand something not about the performer, but about myself. Of course to hear Springsteen so intimately, in what feels like one's living room, makes the alchemy possible. Bruce has always been a storyteller, but the stories on stage have usually been in service of the songs. Now the songs serve the stories, and because of that we get to hear them in a new way. It will be fun, once the show officially opens, to talk about story and song choices and maybe even suggest titles for Springsteen on Broadway. What I know is I've got four months to acquire another ticket. - October 5, 2017 - Louis Masur reporting - photograph by Ben Masur
SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY PREVIEWS BEGIN
Tonight on 48th Street, Bruce Springsteen made his Broadway debut to rapturous applause — at the outset, throughout, and of course, at show's end. It's already amusing to look back at what Jon Landau said in Sunday's New York Times about "the conventions of Broadway": "The show starts, there's absolute silence. People stay in their seats." Not tonight, that's for sure. Wait, is "Brooocing" a Broadway convention? No? Well, while we like the idea of a bit more appropriate audience decorum for this new venture (we're not gonna actually make him tell us to "shut the fuck up," are we?), the excitement in the air for this first night of previews made the lack of restraint pretty forgivable.
While we're going to respect Broadway protocol — no reviews 'til opening night, don'tcha know, no spoilers here — a few unique moments are worth reporting.
When cheers went up in the crowd before lights went down, one might have thought Springsteen had pulled a "Boss sneak" and come out early... but no, they were for Stevie Van Zandt, slipping into his seat in the orchestra to see his pal take on the Great White Way.
And when Springsteen did take the stage, his first order of business was to "dedicate this show to my good friend Tom Petty... sending our prayers out to the Heartbreakers and his family." - October 3, 2017 - Christopher Phillips reporting
AMONG THE WILDFLOWERS
Tom Petty (1950 - 2017) Tom Petty's untimely death at age 66 leaves a great space open, one he filled in a way few musicians, whatever their level of popularity or record sales, can imagine or occupy. Petty aged, but he didn't change much: his showmanship, his setlist, and his band all remained in place. Even when he'd make a record without the Heartbreakers, they'd dutifully assemble to hit the road with him. And when he didn't make a record, they'd play for the hell of it. That was the case with their 40th anniversary tour, which ended a week ago.
Coming from Gainesville, Florida, Petty shared much in common with Bruce Springsteen, his New Jersey kindred spirit. After kicking around and honing their crafts, they both broke out with their third record (Jimmy Iovine had a hand in both, coincidentally). They overcame legal problems that threatened to keep them from moving forward. And of course, they both had father trouble. Still, when they finally met, probably sometime in the mid-'70s, they did the rocker thing, loading up on eight-track tapes and driving through Los Angeles to the water's edge.
They worked together in a loose sense: the No Nukes shows in 1979, and the first Bridge School benefit concert in 1986 (okay, they were both there). But they never really collaborated, and maybe it would have felt gimmicky anyway. Petty was always unguarded: anyone who remembers "Don't Come Around Here No More" will tell you that. And anyone who read Warren Zanes' excellent biography will, too. (To really experience Tom Petty, go to YouTube and watch him with Garry Shandling, probably the most fascinating 20 minutes you'll spend today.)
Their careers took different paths. As a child, Tom Petty met Elvis Presley. As a working musician, he and his band backed Bob Dylan. Petty battled his record company over how much his records would cost; Springsteen built enough credibility with Columbia that putting out Nebraska merely took Walter Yetnikoff one listen. Springsteen and Petty made summational records in 1987, after which Petty made Full Moon Fever without telling all the Heartbreakers. Springsteen dismissed the E Street Band and made Human Touch and Lucky Town.
Another difference was MTV. At the dawn of the '80s, Springsteen spent years making records in New York recording studios. Tom Petty made videos that fed the earliest demands for the new format. That's how most Gen X fans caught on to him, whether it was the stark, black-and-white reading of "A Woman in Love (It's Not Me)" or the post-apocalyptic road trip that played out in "You Got Lucky." Tom Petty reached people with images, and in a big way: he was a quick study with videos, and he rode cable to greater success. (Springsteen did alright himself, just don't you worry about that.)
And Heavens to Murgatroyd, did Tom Petty ever have the songs to back him up: "Louisiana Rain," "Nightwatchman," "Runaway Trains," "The Last DJ," "I Should Have Known It" — and these are just the back-benchers, but great ones nonetheless. Their sole misfortune was coming from the same imaginative soul that produced a 20th-century American songbook that carried over into the next, codified by jukeboxes from Gainesville to Malibu, and a Greatest Hits collection that's sold 12 million copies in the U.S. He made great records, too, long-players in the true sense, none more splendid than Wildflowers, none more passed over than the underrated Let Me Up (I've Had Enough), none more celebrated than Full Moon Fever. Or Damn the Torpedoes. Good work if you can get it, I say.
No, great work.
Godspeed, Tom Petty.
- October 3, 2017 - Jonathan Pont reporting - Stockholm 2012 photographs by Jan Lundahl
HELLO BOSTON! IT'S GOOD TO BE BACK HOME!
Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul
Orpheum Theatre, Boston, MA, 9/29/17
Writing about Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul will unwittingly reveal my age. Because the release this year of Steven's latest album Soulfire brought for me a return to the vintage years when music was making its first indelible mark on me.
In the mid-1960s, pop music reigned. For me first it was the R&B perfection of groups like the Four Tops, Martha and the Vandellas, and the other hitmakers from Motown that put a bounce in my step. Phil Spector's Wall of Sound in songs like "He's a Rebel" would become our teen anthems. And then enter the Beatles, the British Invasion, and a new genre of pop would give birth to the garage band. Everyone was part of the pop revolution.
But behind all these sounds were masterpieces of production and arrangement. And to get that big sound, you needed a lot of layers. And to get that sound live, you need a lot of players. Which makes it no surprise when Steven adds 14 members to his band to bring that sound to you live.
It's clear that this sound of an era is close to his heart, as it is to mine. Not so much nostalgia, but a fondness for a sound that's rich and gets the body moving. It's about the fun and joy of a rock 'n' roll show that's part entertainment and all fun and joy. I mean, who can't marvel at five horn players moving in syncopation and three female singers shimmering in silver lamé as they swerve and curve in harmony. It's almost like you can hear Steven saying to you, "It's showtime, baby!"
The album Soulfire, which this tour supports, is a great mix of pop, R&B, blues, and all things that make music great. It's as if the album exists to be played live — like the album, the show is full of energy and a nod to a sound gone by that Steven has never lost touch with. His expertise in producing this sound has long been a point of acclaim, as noted in his producing and arranging work with Darlene Love and Gary U.S. Bonds.
His love for this sound is evident from the moment the show begins. Behind a closed curtain we hear the funky guitar rhythm that opens Soulfire. The curtain slowly rises, the horns picking up the melody line, building anticipation, and Steven strolls on to the stage. This is old school, baby! It's showtime.
"Hello Boston! It's good to be back home!" That's right, Steve Van Zandt was born in nearby Watertown and lived there until his family moved when he was seven years old. During his pre-show meet and greet, a fan showed Steven a shot of his old home on his phone. Steven loved it and pointed out the front steps he once tumbled down as a child, recalling his mother coming out to see what all the commotion was about.
A live Little Steven show is part entertainment and part education. Drawing from his many rock and soul tunes from Soulfire, Steven moved from song to song embracing its lyrics and emotion with those expressive hand gestures and his infectious smile that speaks to his pure respect and love for the art. He told tales of working with the great Gary U.S. Bonds and what it's like to work with people that inspire you. He gave a brief history lesson on the origins of the Doo Wop street corner style as a way of segueing into "The City Sleeps Tonight," then spoke to the great soul sound of songs in the tradition of "Shaft" and launched into "Down and Out in New York City."
A pure love fest with the audience hardly sitting down, Steven then presented the audience with a little hometown surprise as he brought out, in his words, "a local boy who made good." Enter the whammer jammer himself, Peter Wolf, as the band dug into the J. Geils catalog for the encore, ending with a show-stopping version of "Freeze Frame," a song the Disciples of Soul sounded as if they were meant to perform.
Steven and the Disciples head to Baltimore tonight and Huntington, NY on October 4, with ten more US dates before the band returns to Europe for the last leg of this year's tour. - October 2, 2017 - Report and photographs by Barry Schneier
SPRINGSTEEN & BRYAN ADAMS TEAM UP TO CLOSE INVICTUS GAMES
There is always, for me at least, a certain feeling one gets on the day of a Bruce Springsteen show, and the Invictus Games Closing Ceremony on Saturday was no exception. I knew in the back of my mind it would be an abbreviated set, likely acoustic, but that didn't matter. It was an opportunity to see Bruce perform once again, as I didn't have the luck, or the funds, to obtain tickets for the upcoming Broadway performances.
Making our way to the Air Canada Centre, it was clear that this was not going to be an ordinary show night, with a security perimeter setup around the entire arena. Not surprising, considering the dignitaries in attendance included Invictus Games patron HRH Prince Harry, Vice President and Mrs. Biden, and Mme Trudeau, our Prime Minister's wife.
As we entered the arena, we were handed a program which outlined the ceremony and included bios of all the performers. It was a bit of a shock to see that Bruce was not listed as the final act of the night — that honor went to Bachman & Turner. (Also on the bill: Coeur de Pirate, Kelly Clarkson, and Bryan Adams.) While I thought that scheduling was unusual, I was certain there would be a surprise or two as the evening progressed. After the parade of athletes and a few other announcements before the television audience joined the proceedings, it was off to the races.
Sound issues in my section — the upper confines of the arena — did not resolve themselves as the evening progressed, unfortunately, and it was clear the sound was being mixed for the "tellyvision" broadcast and not for the live concert. But an hour or so in, there was no mistaking the chorus of "Bruuuuce" that greeted our man as he stood solo, center stage, acoustic guitar at the ready.
Springsteen launched into "Working on the Highway" first — an odd choice, I thought, perhaps a selection that he knew the non-fans in the audience would recognize, but it was clear that this was definitely a Bruce-friendly crowd.
The second song, "The Promised Land" was absolutely sublime, and Bruce appeared to get emotional and lose himself in the moment.
Last we were instructed by the Boss to put on our dancing shoes as he busted out "Dancing in the Dark." Another odd choice, I thought, but this collection of songs could be top of mind for him as potential arrangements for the upcoming Broadway run.
Before you knew it, Bruce's acoustic performance was over. Quick, but enjoyable despite the sound issues. Surely this wouldn't be the last we would see of him this evening, I thought — and fortunately I was right.
After Bryan Adams finished playing his smash hit "Sumer of '69" with his band, he summoned "The Boss" and they launched into a full-band version of "Cuts Like a Knife." (This was the first time I had ever witnessed Bruce wearing in-ear monitors which were non-existent during the acoustic set.) Springsteen had performed the song acoustically himself a few years back, but this was a chance to see him let loose on the song's standard rock arrangement, sharing vocals with Adams.
Springsteen stayed on stage for one more song as Bryan explained it was time to return the favor and play one of Bruce's tunes. What followed was an impressive version of "Badlands," complete with chanting from the Bruce-centric crowd. Kudos to Bryan's harmony vocals, and to his band for stepping into some very large E Street Band shoes and doing the song justice. There was no sax player to be had, so the sax solo was replaced with guitar solos.
The crowd continued the "whoa-oh-oh-ohs" as the song concluded and as HRH Prince Harry took the stage to embrace and thank both Bruce and Bryan. Alas, this wasn't a concert but a ceremony that was being televised, so strict timelines needed to be adhered to. In the Prince's address to the athletes and crowd, he had mentioned that the atheletes had asked him last year to get Bruce for the closing ceremonies, so he proved to be a man good to his word!
The final act was the iconic Bachman/Turner. Unfortunately that did not include a surprise guest appearance from Bruce, but it was fun nonetheless as they performed a medley of some of their greatest hits, finishing with "Takin' Care of Business" — which I thought would be right up Bruce's alley, but it was not to be.
As we made our way out, we were wishing some U.K. team members a safe flight home and also had the opportunity to stop and speak to one of our Canadian athletes, Jay, who was proudly sporting his bronze medal he had won earlier in the week. We shook his hand, thanked him for his service and sacrifice to our country, and told him how proud we were of him. He spoke of how he wanted to continue in some fashion with the Invictus movement, and I can certainly understand why.
Invictus is latin for "unconquered." It was amazing to witness these amazing athletes, many with horrific injuries suffered in service to their respective countries. With all due respect to Bruce and the other performers, to me that was the highlight of the evening.
You can watch the Invictus Games Closing Ceremony at ctv.ca (Springsteen's acoustic set at 0:52; with Bryan Adams at 1:23). Below, Springsteen and Adams give us a taste of Springsteen's acoustic "Cuts Like a Knife" arrangement as a backstage duet, via of @bryanadams/Instagram.
A post shared by Patti Scialfa (@officialrumbledoll) on
Friday night at the Walter Kerr Theatre: Patti Scialfa called it "dress rehearsal," the ticket called it "Workshop #3," we call it one more double secret preview, just a few days before the official Springsteen on Broadway previews begin. - September 30, 2017
SAM BARDFELD'S "BECAUSE THE NIGHT" OUT TODAY
Sessions Band violinist covers his old Boss on The Great Enthusiasms On the 2006 tour, you saw Bruce Springsteen and the Sessions Band genre-hop like nobody's business, fusing elements of gospel, blues, folk, rock 'n' roll, bluegrass, honky-tonk, Zydeco, swing, second-line, Dixieland... but they never quite made it over to modernistic jazz.
Sam Bardfeld, Soozie Tyrell's fellow fiddler in the Sessions Band, is a jazz violinist/composer by trade, and on his new album he lets his freak flag fly.
The Great Enthusiams is Bardfeld's "Weird America" record, and while it's mostly originals, he also takes "Because the Night" and rips the bones from its back.
Sam knows it's not for everyone, but as he tells us of his own music, "It makes me particularly happy when general listeners — not specialized jazz listeners — like it and can appreciate the ideas and emotions in the music." So whether left-leaning jazz is your thing — calling all hepcats — or it's not, give it a listen here.
"Much of my favorite American music is eccentric and forward while grounded in the vernacular," Sam writes in the album's liner notes. "Maybe it's not a total accident that my three most important employer-mentors are all great musician-poets of weird America and all with significant local roots: Bruce Springsteen, Roy Nathanson (Jazz Passengers), and Anthony Braxton. Bruce is (among other things) a poet of the noir side of the city — the ne’er-do-wells and hookers and guys looking for a piece of the action... 'Because the Night' written by Springsteen and Patti Smith is a perfect, wild New York 70's love song."
Join Sam at the CD release party, Thursday, October 5, at the Cornelia Street Cafe. As on the album, he'll be performing with his trio, featuring pianist Kris Davis and drummer Michael Sarin.
Thanks to Sam and BJURecords for sharing the track with us. - September 29, 2017
REMINDER: SPRINGSTEEN TO CLOSE INVICTUS GAMES TOMORROW NIGHT On Saturday night, September 30, Bruce Springsteen will be among the performers for the closing ceremony of the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto. The event will be broadcast live on CTV at 8pm Eastern,
and it should be livestreaming as well — we'll be checking here and here.
Also on the bill: Bryan Adams (time to finally do "Cuts Like a Knife" together?), Bachman & Turner (the Boss could put them into overdrive), Kelly Clarkson (that wouldn't suck either), and Coeur de Pirate (je n'en sais pas plus que vous). - September 29, 2017
Help us #give2veterans. Every retweet of this post by 9/30 means $1 for @Stand4Heroes, up to $500K! Let's see how much ? we can raise today!
For just over an hour, the father/son writing duo will talk Bruce and spin a dozen of their favorite Springsteen tracks. Rebroadcasts are scheduled forSaturday 9/30 at 12am & 8am, Sunday 10/1 at 5pm, Monday 10/2 at 4pm, Tuesday 10/3 at 12am & 8am and Wednesday 10/4 at 6pm.
Check out this clip from the show, in which the King men reveal how they each kindled the other's Springsteen fandom.
- September 28, 2017 - Shawn Poole reporting - photos by Maro Hagopian - special thanks to Vinny Usuriello at E Street Radio
OUT IN THE DESERT, AN E STREET RENDEZVOUS
Last night, while Stevie was undoubtedly killing it on Staten Island, we were treated to a little E Street experience out in the desert. Max Weinberg's Jukebox was just a few songs into their show at the tiny theater inside Phoenix's Musical Instrument Museum, when Max invited a guy who lives down the street to join him on stage. The crowd was elated when Nils Lofgren rose from his seat and made his way to the front.
After a hug and a few accolades from Max, Nils grabbed a guitar and helped guide the band through the request-only set. Nils remained on stage for the rest of the show, for songs including "If I Should Fall Behind," "She's the One," Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way," and Neil Young's "Cinammon Girl," turning in an amazing solo at the end of "Dancing in the Dark" [video].
For an encore, Max invited the audience to join the band on stage, "grab a tambourine," and enjoy some "Glory Days" of our own. Lots more Max Weinberg's Jukebox dates coming up in October and November — see maxweinberg.com for the full schedule. - September 28, 2017 - Mark Redlich reporting - photographs by Ed Gray
ANOTHER ROLL OF THE DICE Springsteen on Broadway digital lottery adds more $75 tickets to the pool
Here we go — the Springsteen on Broadway online lottery referred to by Jujamcyn Theaters is here, with a limited number of tickets for each performance to be sold to winners of a random lottery drawing.
These tickets — 26 of them for every show, according to Playbill.com — will be sold for $75 each plus service fees (that's the cost of a balcony seat, though lottery seat locations will vary).
Beginning September 28, the lottery will offer five performances at a time for entry. Entry closes at 10 AM ET the day prior to the performance. Winner and non-winner notifications will be sent at 12 PM ET the day prior via email or SMS. Only one entry is permitted per person. Repeated entries and invalid email addresses will be discarded. Tickets must be purchased online with a credit card by 4 PM ET the day prior to the performance using the purchase link and unique code in a notification message. Tickets not claimed by 4 PM ET the day prior to the performance are forfeited. Lottery tickets will be void if resold.
The first five preview performances are up now at luckyseat.com/springsteen-broadway. Only one entry per person per performance, with tickets limited to two per winner (entrants may select one or two tickets).
Playbill also reports that tickets are now available for October 12, the official opening night for Springsteen on Broadway (not available through the initial Ticketmaster onsale), to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. These $5,000/$10,000 tickets are partly tax dedutcible, include the afterparty, and help a good cause: "Funds from these tickets will support emergency grants currently being made to organizations providing immediate assistance after the devastating natural disasters that have ravaged communities in Florida, Texas, Mexico and, most recently, Puerto Rico." Visit broadwaycares.org/springsteen for details. - September 28, 2017
YOU DROPPED A CODE ON ME
In our post-onsale anaylsis for Springsteen on Broadway we wrote, "Whether it's a contest, ticket drop, or fan-to-fan exchange, hope remains alive that at least a few more dogged fans still can get in the door." Lo and behold, yesterday afternoon some lucky fans yesterday were surprised to receive Verified Fan codes from Ticketmaster and score newly released tickets. We might have been able to guess a drop would happen... but alerting and connecting individual fans directly to a ticket drop is a VF perk we hadn't considered. A few e-mails below that we received from readers who found "standby" to be no sad ending after all.
- September 27, 2017
FROM THE WHITE HOUSE TO THE GREAT WHITE WAY
"My first real job," Springsteen says of upcoming Broadway show
With previews for Springsteen on Broadway less than a week away, today's expansive New York Times interview connects a few dots. One compelling element: Bruce Springsteen found himself enthused by his January performance at the White House, and he uses its style and structure as the template for the upcoming performances.
"Really, John Hammond would love this show," Springsteen tells Times writer Jon Pareles, speaking of the late Columbia Records legend who signed him as a solo act in 1972. "This is the closest thing to what I would have done at Max's Kansas City in 1973, when I was coming up by myself."
Pareles and Springsteen don't reveal specific songs or stories, but the piece makes it clear that Springsteen on Broadway will be a scripted affair, with little movement from night to night. "This is a locked-in piece of music and script that I'm going to be performing pretty much the same on a nightly basis," Bruce says. "It's a solidified piece of work."
Springsteen also reveals who hasn't read his autobiography and mentions the record he finished in the context of creativity. A version of today's web article will appear in the October 1 print edition of the New York Times.
A post shared by Patti Scialfa (@officialrumbledoll) on
LONG TIME COMIN', MY DEAR Springsteen, Ticketmaster united for fairer ticket sales... How'd they do?
In this brief lull between ticket sales and the curtain rising on Springsteen on Broadway, it's a good time to take a closer look at Ticketmaster's Verified Fan system, the method used to sell tickets for 79 performances at New York's Walter Kerr Theatre.
Beating the scalpers is what Ticketmaster's Verified Fan system is purportedly all about. After years of fans calling for action to combat scalping, the spawn of bots, and system failures, Ticketmaster tried something different. And it had an effect. Is everyone happy? Of course not. Considering the supply and demand for these shows — one source tells Backstreets that as many as 300,000 people may have signed up for verification — it was a given that many dedicated fans would get frozen out.
Whether 1998's Come Together benefit for the late Sgt. Patrick King or numerous nights at Madison Square Garden, a tough ticket is familiar to Bruce Springsteen fans. Performances like those have sold out within minutes of going on sale, a story that has been told and retold all over the world (a tip o' the cap to our friends in Ireland). But that was not the case with Springsteen on Broadway, probably the hardest ticket to come by in recent times. So let's consider what the new system did and did not do to give Springsteen fans a fighting chance....
- September 24, 2017 - Christopher Phillips and Shawn Poole reporting - photo by Nancy Calaway - special thanks to Jeff Calaway, Erik Flannigan, and Jonathan Pont
"LIGHTEN UP WHILE YOU STILL CAN..."
Thursday in Holmdel, NJ, Bruce Springsteen took a break from working up Springsteen on Broadway to join Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, who start their own tour of North America and Europe tonight in Port Chester, NY. Full report from the 9/21 Laid Back Festival, including Springsteen's guest spot with Jackson Browne, on our Setlists page. - September 23, 2017 - photograph by Doug Mishkin
THEY SAY THE NEON LIGHTS ARE BRIGHT
And today there's extra magic in the air — happy birthday, Bruce! - September 23, 2017 - thanks to Nuno Amante at Badlands Portugal
WITH MY MIND ON THE FREEZE-OUT AND THE FREEZE-OUT ON MY MIND
Tonight at Holmdel, NJ's PNC Bank Arts Center, the Laid Back Festival played host to Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul — as well as their special guest, Bruce Springsteen. Wicked cool to see them turn "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" into a duet, with thanks to Mitch Slater for the video evidence; they also teamed up for "It's Been a Long Time."
Update: later in the night, Springsteen also joined headliner Jackson Browne for "Take It Easy"
and "Our Lady of the Well."
- September 21, 2017 - videos courtesy of Mitch Slater
JAKE CLEMONS BAND
Baltimore Soundstage, Baltimore, MD, 9/18/17
Backed by a fantastic band, Jake Clemons put on a great show for an enthusiastic crowd in Baltimore on Monday night. Intense, charismatic, and multi-talented, not only does Jake play the sax, but the guitar and keyboard as well. Great vocals, too, and his storytelling reminds me of another great storyteller we know. The warm-up act was Aaron Yealdhall, who also came out at the end of the show to sing with Jake on "With a Little Help From My Friends."
- September 21, 2017 - report and photographs by Jerry Frishman
OUT NOW: HOUSTON '78 TO BENEFIT MUSICARES HURRICANE RELIEF
After the Hammersmith '75 concert film appeared in the 2005 Born to Run 30th Anniversary box, it was a mere two months before the audio had an official release. As for Houston '78, film of which was a cornerstone of the 2010 Darkness box, it's taken until... today.
A surprise release from nugs.net — it's not a First Friday, after all — is a special addition to Springsteen's live archive series, issued in response to the recent devastation and flooding in Houston and other storm-ravaged areas in the south. The Summit, Houston, TX December 8, 1978 will benefit the MusiCares Hurricane Relief Fund, to aid those affected in both Texas and and Florida.
In a press release, nugs.net CEO Brad Serling says, "Fans had been asking for a stand-alone audio release of Houston '78 since the Darkness box set came out several years ago. Its release-ready availability gave us the opportunity to move quickly to support people in Texas and Florida."
That release-readiness is, of course, due to the full concert film's inclusion in The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story, with the audio from the original line cut recorded and mixed by the late, great Bruce Jackson (Springsteen's Front of House sound engineer in 1978) and later mastered by Bob Ludwig.
The performance is from the tail end of the Darkness tour, just a week before the classic Winterland broadcast, with Bruce and the band in full-on blow-'em-away mode. The following day in the Houston Post, critic Bob Claypool wrote of Springsteen "pumping out rock 'n' roll as though he were the man who invented it in the first place, sending out scores of guitar solos that were powerful enough to shake your fillings loose, yet so tasteful and utterly right, so full of promise, they made your calloused heart beat like a school-kid's."
Texas was an "early adopter" when it came to The Boss, joining other markets like Richmond, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Phoenix along the way in appreciating Springsteen before he went nationwide and worldwide. December 8 was the Darkness tour's second visit to Houston, as Claypool also noted:
...this was Bruce's largest audience ever in Houston, which is, self-admittedly, one of his "best" cities. The Summit was sold out, which means that this was about twice the number of people who saw the Coliseum show back in July, and Heaven only knows how many more listeners this was than the number who attended the original gig at Liberty Hall years ago.
All of which goes to prove that Springsteen is hardly the mere "critic's favorite" he was once tagged. No critic or "cult" artist could cause the kind of madness he inspred in 17,000 plus at this Friday night show.
As for the set, you've got classic hallmarks of the '78 tour, including "Badlands" out of the gate, the extended "Prove It All Night" intro, and new songs that would make their way to The River: "Independence Day," "The Ties That Bind," and "Point Blank." Outtakes "The Fever," "Fire," and "Because the Night" all turned up, as did "Santa Claus," and the whole thing ended with a wild "Quarter to Three."
Backstreets reader Ed Gray, who was a high school senior and a first-timer at the Summit on 12/8/78, tells us, "That night at The Summit would recalibrate my appreciation of music and live music for the rest of my life, unquestionably. I had seen Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Bad Company, The Eagles, Journey... and I remember at the time thinking that those bands' entire shows didn't pack the energy and passion that I had just seen, heard, and felt with just the 'Badlands' and 'Streets of Fire' opening. That Houston Summit show is the finest musical experience of my life. Obviously, it made me a Bruce fan to this day."
As with other releases in the live archive series, The Summit, Houston, TX December 8, 1978 is being offered in various digital audio formats (available now) and on CD (available for pre-order). Bruce Springsteen, the E Street band, Sony Music and nugs.net will donate all their proceeds to the MusiCares Hurricane Relief Fund. For more information on MusiCares and their relief efforts, visit www.musicares.org.
- Updated September 21, 2017 - Christopher Phillips reporting - ticket stub courtesy of Ed Gray
NEW SPRINGSTEEN TRACK CLOSES THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE
Thank You for Your Service, a forthcoming film starring Miles Teller, recently screened for press; it's about a group of soldiers returning from Iraq and facing a host of troubles, including PTSD, issues with acquiring benefits for physical and mental issues, and reconnecting with their families. It's the first film directed by actor-writer Jason Hall (who wrote Clint Eastwood's American Sniper).
It's a very powerful, authentic drama about the struggle back home, and after it was over, I heard this dirge-like drum track and Bruce Springsteen's unmistakable voice. The song sounded familiar, but not as a Springsteen original. It's his version of the "Freedom" marching cadence, often known as "Some Say Freedom is Free," credited to PFC Roger L. Southard. The standard words are here, although I've heard variations, and I'm pretty sure that Bruce changed/added a few himself. I'm 99 percent sure that in the verse about Vietnam, he added a reference from "Born in the U.S.A.," with a line about "a brother at Khe Sahn." There's also a male choir element to the song that makes it all the more haunting.
Thank You For Your Service opens October 27. - September 20, 2017 - Steve (Capone) Prokopy reporting
I'LL BE ON THAT CAMPUS WITH EVERYTHING I GOT
Monmouth U planning Darkness Springsteen Symposium for April 2018
Over the last 12 years, Monmouth University played host to a Bruce Springsteen symposium called Glory Days, welcoming fans and scholars to their campus in 2005, 2009, and 2011 for a Bruce conference organized in conjunction with Virginia Tech and Penn State-Altoona. Next year, Monmounth — now home of The Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music — will hold their own.
A BILLION-TO-ONE SHOT
On Sunday morning, Steven Van Zandt spoke to NY rock radio legend Ken Dashow for an exclusive interview on his weekly Breakfast With the Beatles radio show about Friday night's "unforgettable" experience with Paul McCartney:
"As Bruce said before we walked onstage, 'What are the odds of us being little kids listening to the first Beatles album in our rooms trying to learn those songs and that one day we would be on stage with that very same Beatle we were so amazed by as kids?' We stopped trying to figure out the odds of it happening, since it was a billion to one." - September 18, 2017 - thanks to Sammy Steinlight - photograph by @dinaregine
FRIDAY NIGHT VIDEOS
Paul McCartney with Bruce Springsteen and Little Steven, on September 15 at Madison Square Garden, with a song so nice they played it twice. Hat tip to Jim Powers for catching 'em both.
- September 17, 2017
MY HEART WENT BOOM BOOM
Bruce & Stevie with Paul McCartney last night in NYC
Midway through the encore of Paul McCartney's Friday evening performance at Madison Square Garden, with the final dulcet notes of "Helter Skelter" still ringing in everyone's ears, Sir Paul announced that there were two special guests who had agreed to join him on stage for the next song. He mentioned that the last time they'd played together, at Hyde Park in London, they'd had the plug pulled on them by the authorities, so this time he hoped they'd be able to finish their song. When he shouted Bruce Springsteen's name, the roar of the crowd was so loud that it drowned out the subsequent announcement that Little Steven would be joining too.
The band lit into a very energetic version of "I Saw Her Standing There," with a beaming Bruce trading verses at the same microphone as Sir Paul. After playing it once, they made a snap (and wise) decision to play it again. Afterwards, as Bruce left the stage — grin still plastered to his face — he could be seen wiping a tear from his eye. An emotional night for all involved — especially the very lucky audience. - September 16, 2017 - Tom Prochnow reporting - photographs via @PaulMcCartney and @TheGarden
BOOKPLATE OF DREAMS
Last call: thanks to Simon & Schuster, we have 20 bookplates signed by Bruce Springsteen to give away when we ship out copies of the new Born to Run paperback. Order Born to Run by noon EST tomorrow (Friday, September 15) to be eligible, after which we'll select 20 orders at random (using the random number generator at random.org) to receive a "golden ticket."
The Jake Clemons Band at Middle East, Cambridge, MA, 9/12/17
There's a chapter in Born to Run in which Bruce Springsteen discusses auditioning Jake Clemons for the E Street Band. He had asked Jake to learn the "Jungleland" solo, but when Jake arrived at Bruce's home, he hadn't done his homework. A mild scolding and Jake was sent home, returning later having completed his assignment.
As a parent, I related to the lesson. Sometimes a little tough love is needed to teach our children a lesson. These can be valuable lessons for life as we look to mentor and guide those under our care as they mature. And mature Jake Clemons has. Many who saw him at various stages on the 2016 River Tour commented how he grew into his role as the tour progressed and soon found a real confidence and ease on stage. He found his place with the E Street Band, endearing himself to all who witnessed his transformation.
Last night at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA, Jake Clemons kicked off his tour to support Fear & Love. And what we witnessed was not just a musician coming into his own, but a man with a great soul. A soul that speaks out against injustice and domestic violence, admits to his own frustration with the divisiveness our country is experiencing, and identifies the need we all have to soothe an aching heart no matter what cause. He believes in hope and wants all of us to believe in it too.
Backed by an outstanding band, Jake displayed his multi-instrument talents through numbers such as "Hold Tight," which in its own eerie fashion uses an impending hurricane as a metaphor, and the dynamic and troubling "Janine," in which a woman who is caught up in an abusive relationship is told to "get out." Jake's passion for this issue has led him to launch The Janine Project, an online resource for women in abusive relationships, providing information, pointing to services, and offering hope.
Throughout the night each song was delivered with purpose and from the heart. That's soul music. Jake's music is also a whirlwind of styles, from the sweet and melodic sound of "Fear and Love" to the country-influenced sound of "Dream." Jake would move from guitar to piano and then to his beloved sax. Special attention should be paid to the band members, who Jake would let loose to display serious jazz and improvisational chops. On guitar, Mark Roshette; bass, Lorcun O'Dwyer; drums, Cian Hanley; and on keyboards, Kevin Corcoran.
There's no denying the audience was made up of E Street fans looking for a fix, and Jake didn't hesitate to entertain them, often walking into the audience and even posing for a selfie while dancing with a fan.
Judging by this opening night, Jake has definitely found his groove. What he has learned along the way, he wants to share with his audience. Much of that was summed up in an encore sing-along of "With a Little Help From My Friends" segueing into a soulful "Good Lovin" to close the night, Jake working the audience like the true soul man he is.
For upcoming dates on the Fear < Love Tour, visit jakeclemons.com - September 13, 2017 - report and photographs by Barry Schneier
Our pal Peter Chianca, of Blogness on the Edge of Town, interviewed Little Steven for Wickedlocal.com, previewing the September 29 Disciples of Soul concert at Boston's Orpheum Theatre. Along with talking Soulfire and his live show, Stevie tells Pete he's "writing more with the intention of doing solo records now on a regular basis," and he also reveals that he's not at all out when it comes to TV: "I've got five different scripts I've written — I'll either create a show myself, or I'm also getting some offers... In an ideal world I'll do a new TV show in the winter, and then tour every summer either with Bruce or with the Disciples. That's the plan anyway.... You never know — you plan these things out and who the hell knows what happens?”
LOVE AND DUTY
A year ago tonight, I was in Pittsburgh, to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's second stop there on the 2016 River Tour. Considering the date, the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, The Rising was on many of our minds. Would Bruce mark this occasion? The full River album performance was no longer in the set... could that maybe, possibly, make room for a full Rising sequence? A pipe dream, of course, and it's hard to imagine anyone really thought otherwise. Most of those album tracks were distant memories in the band's repertoire, and Springsteen was clearly invested in the 1973 wayback machine that typified these fall 2016 shows.
So it still came as a surprise when Springsteen and the band followed their opening serenade with "Into the Fire." And "Lonesome Day." And "You're Missing," and "Mary's Place" — not the full album, but a full-throated and full-hearted revisitation of the thrust of it, its power and spirit. And later in the set, the back-to-back "My City of Ruins" and "The Rising" itself clinched the night's through line. I was struck all over again by the brilliance of that piece of work, the way The Rising reflected the falllout of 9/11's horrors in so many facets — loss, resilience, courage — much the same as his previous masterpiece, Tunnel of Love, investigated love and marriage. And to feel those songs come to life again a year ago, so viscerally, was the very best medicine for a day that had been full of
I have mixed feelings about marking days like this. In fact, I'd rather not. I'm more prone to celebrate the anniversary of a record, a concert, a piece of art that moved me, which may be why I'm focusing more today on Pittbsurgh 2016 than on where I was on that awful day in 2001. But sometimes, like today, the two things are just inseparable. As we're facing so many natural disasters — hurricanes, floods, forest fires, earthquakes — it seems that what made the 9/11 attacks particularly horrific is that they were no acts of god, but something humans alone were responsible for. "Man's inhumanity to man," as the English lit cliche goes. But what's inspiring to me is that, whatever the source of the "meanness in this world," the response of good, brave souls remains the same, first responders and those who follow. The same spirit that gave rise to songs like "The Rising" and "Into the Fire" can be seen in responses to these devastating hurricanes today, from individuals — have you read this? — to communities:
So we're thinking today of those who died, suffered, and lost 16 years ago, and of those who are displaced,
making their way through the darkness, and on rocky ground today. But we're also thinking of all those, everywhere, who come to their aid. Your strength gives us strength, and your hope gives us hope.
- September 11, 2017 - Christopher Phillips
BORN TO RUN PAPERBACK IS HERE Order from Backstreets for a chance at an autographed bookplate!
Something that might have gotten lost in the shuffle this past week, with all the Springsteen on Broadway business: the trade paperback of Springsteen's Born to Run memoir is hot off the presses. And if you've still got the stomach for "games of chance"... don't worry, this is a fun one... I don't think Backstreets has ever had Springsteen autographs to give away.
Thanks to Simon & Schuster, we've got some serious "golden tickets" we'll be slipping into Born to Run sofcovers as a bonus as we ship them out. We have 20 bookplates signed by Bruce Springsteen specifically for Born to Run to give away to Backstreet Records customers.
These are hand-signed, of course, and the same bookplates they used for the hardcover; adhesive backing is still on, so lucky recipients can choose whether to affix it here or on a hardcover edition.
Order before Friday, September 15, at noon Eastern for a chance at one of these 20 signed bookplates. We'll be inserting them into packages completely at random (using a random number generator) as we begin fulfilling orders. Your odds depend on how many orders we receive for the softcover before the 9/15 deadline -- if 40 people order, you've got a 50/50 shot; if 400 people order, it's a five percent chance -- but that's a healthy number of autographs to give away no matter how you slice it.
And everyone who orders the softcover edition from us will get a FREE Born to Run bookmark (above), a promotional item provided for us by Simon & Schuster.
BROADWAY ONSALE, THE MORE YOU KNOW PART II: THE PRICE YOU PAY
For the first Springsteen on Broadway onsale, we posted some info the night before about what to expect. As we find ourselves on another Verified Fan Onsale Eve, you may want to check our that post below. Last time, the advance "prep" emails starting coming around 9:25pm Eastern the night before the sale. Ticketmaster's Springsteen on Broadway #Verified Fan Onsale FAQ can also answer many questions.
Something we didn't have last time around: a seating chart with prices. Thanks to many fellow fans, we've put one together based on tickets purchased on August 30. Our readership collaborated by sending in seat locations and prices from that first go-round, so that we now have a very good idea of what you might get when you look to pay your money down tomorrow morning. (Locations not color-coded on the chart means we received no information for those seats; whether they were sold or not is currently unclear.) Click the image above for a larger jpeg, or click here for a printable PDF (v1.1).
Many thanks to everyone who pitched in — a true community effort. And good luck in the morning. May every Standby be Selected! - September 6, 2017
Let’s crowdsource a priced seating chart before 9/7. Let us know your specific seat location/ticket cost, we’ll start drawing the lines.
ONE-MAN HOOTENANNY: JOAD TOUR'S BELFAST CONCERT OUT TODAY
While we gear up for the 17-week run of Bruce Springsteen's solo show on Broadway, the official archive series flashes back to his first solo tour with the release of Kings Hall, Belfast, March 19, 1996. This 23-song set features Springsteen alone on acoustic guitar and harmonica and marks the first official concert release from the world tour for The Ghost of Tom Joad. And it represents that time well, capturing the classic structure, spirit, and intensity of the acoustic music that took Springsteen (and guitar tech/"mystery keyboardist" Kevin Buell) around the world over the span of 18 months from late 1995 to the middle of 1997.
Since that time, we've become far more accustomed to Springsteen performing alone, whether behind Devils & Dust or for VH1 Storytellers, (both in 2005), the Somerville benefits, or even campaign rallies; when the Joad tour began, however, you had to look way back to the early '70s to find him performing acoustically with any regularity.
When Springsteen gave the E Street Band their walking papers at the dawn of the 1990s, the idea, as he told Rolling Stone, was "to mix it up... to get rid of some of the old expectations... I wanted to get to a spot where if people came to the show, there'd be a feeling of like, well, it's not going to be this, it's going to be something else." The tour that followed with the "other band" in 1992-'93 was, like it or not, not that sort of radical departure. A brief solo-acoustic set added to those shows in Europe in 1993 hinted at his next direction. But in 1995, the shattering of expectations truly began, as Springsteen brought a dark, quiet, band-free, singer/songwriter performance to theaters and other small venues.
Europe 1996 [Brussels, May 1] - photograph by Rene van Diemen
The Joad tour fulfilled Springsteen's desire to "have something new to bring to the table" without the E Street Band, and it also made good on the promise of rare, tantalizing solo performances like the 1986 Bridge School Benefit and the 1990 Christic Institute shows. Famously, there was no tour for Nebraska. Given the opportunity to go unplugged for MTV in 1992, Springsteen remained plugged in with his new band. But in the fall of 1995, he embraced the acoustic aesthetic all the way. Unlike the Christic shows, where Springsteen played piano as well as guitar, or the 2005 Devils & Dust tour which also brought the pump organ, ukulele, electric piano, electric guitar, and more into play, Joad was straight no chaser: Bruce. A small fleet of Takamine guitars and harmonicas. And of course, a firm request for everyone in attendance to "shut the fuck up."
Springsteen meant business, but the Joad tour was hardly a dour one. There were certainly somber stretches each night, particularly when he'd bring out a stool at the end of the main set for the border songs: "Sinaloa Cowboys," "The Line," "Balboa Park," and "Across the Border" ("The New Timer" made infrequent appearances, too). But the artistry on display — songwriting, arranging, storytelling, guitar-playing, displaying a newfound falsetto, holding a crowd in the palm of his hand — provided light even through the darkest material.
Many hits and concert favorites were nowhere to be found; in Belfast, nothing before Darkness on the Edge of Town. But performances like that 1978 album’s title track, in an arrangement borrowed from Christic and strummed urgently on 12-string, could be as rousing as anything on the E Street stage. And as the tour rolled on, Springsteen's reworking of older songs and introduction of new material leavened the set. "It's the Little Things," a number never performed before or since, gets its first official release here.
The Belfast stop at The King's Hall, Springsteen's first performance ever in Northern Ireland, came about four months into the World Acoustic Tour and captures its core spirit. Along with its standards — ten album tracks from Joad, the masterful reimagining of "Adam Raised a Cain" — we get stopovers in Nebraska (the title track as well as an ultra-stark "Reason to Believe"), another Christic revisitation with "The Wish," Tom Joad outtake "Brothers Under the Bridge," a guitar arrangement of his latest smash hit "Streets of Philadelphia." The striking, percussive arrangement of "The Promised Land" turned out sturdy enough to close Devils & Dust shows ten years later.
The Tom Joad tour was truly a world tour. In North America, it hit older theaters in city centers and in smaller markets like Fresno, Normal, and Youngstown. Overseas, Springsteen visited not only Europe, further cementing his long-established bond with audiences there, but also Australia and Japan, where lyric sheets with translations were handed out to concert-goers in an attempt to offset the language barrier. In Belfast there likely was no such issue, but across Europe on this stretch Springsteen made sure to thank audiences for coming along on such a different ride, one where stories and songs asked a lot of even English-as-first-language audiences: "This is music that means a lot to me and I appreciate being able to come out here and do this like this... it's a real collaboration between the singer and the audience. It's a gift that you give me, and I want to thank you for it." Today, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
DEC 2020 With 13-page Letter to You cover story — imported from the UK, in stock now!
Backstreet Records is the mailorder division of Backstreets, delivering Springsteen merchandise to fans for more than 25 years. We carry numerous collectibles, tour shirts, books, magazines, and imported CDs and records.
The world's best selection of Springsteen collectibles, all available by mail.
We also post all known concert dates for some of our favorite Jersey Shore (and Shore-adopted) musicians:
Joe D'Urso... and more.
For more information on upcoming shows such as these, check out our Concert Calendar.
Many from the Springsteen community banded together to preserve this Asbury Park landmark.... and Tillie has now been saved!
Check our Save Tillie page for the latest developments.
THE SPRINGSTEEN SPECIAL COLLECTION
Organized by Backstreets in 2001, this storehouse of Boss books and magazines is the largest such collection outside of Bruce's mother's basement. Thanks to the generosity of fans around the world, total holdings are now well over 11,000. But the collection is by no means complete.