The Seeger Session Tour Was Made For You And Me?

Greasy Lake, 2006-04-23, by: Maureen Shames, Greasy Lake special writer
Bruce Springsteen and his new Seeger Session Band "blowed away" the audience at the first warm-up concert held at Convention Hall in Asbury Park on April 20.

Springsteen and his new 15- piece band "shall overcome" any obstacles during the upcoming tour and with big happy smiles.

This show is upbeat, fun and the joy spreads throughout the audience!

The concert featured a majority of songs from the new album, The Seeger Sessions. Six of the 19 tunes played that evening were reworked versions of Springsteen?s tunes, including a virtually unrecognizable ?You Can Look, But You Better Not Touch.?

A highlight among the Springsteen tunes was one of the best versions I?ve ever heard of ?Devils & Dust? because the lovely vocals of the back-up singers added some gospel juice.

Though Bruce didn?t speak overtly about politics, the show seemed to be a reaction to current political times. The song collection carried out the theme of joy in the face of adversity and virtually everyone on-stage was showcased.

Springsteen opposed George Bush?s presidential bid in 2004, so it seemed an underlying concert message to find happiness despite crisis in our country. Currently Bush?s popularity rating is at an all-time low among Americans.

The only anti-war song Bruce performed concerned a boy coming home after the war because he lost his legs from a cannon ball. This song, entitled, "Mrs. McGrath" is an old folk song that Dylan rewrote in the '60s and still performs today as "John Brown." Obviously, Springsteen and Seeger are artists who highly respect Dylan.

Bruce opened with, ?Oh, Mary, Don?t You Weep.? As with many of the songs, Bruce sang solo initially and eventually the back-up singers and the band joined in and wowed us. The horns-section was magnificent in lending a fiesta-like sound to the mix. The "sizzling" horns were comprised of Eddie Manion on sax, Richie ?La Bamba? Rosenberg on trombone, Art Baron on tuba and Mark Pender on trumpet.

Listening to the sneak preview of the upcoming Seeger Sessions in its entirety on-line will be offered for a limited time at, New Yorks ONLY Classic Rock Station, Q104.3. I strongly recommend giving a listen and here is THE reason.

When ?My Oklahoma Home? was played something memorable happened. After Bruce sang, ?blowed away,? I called out, singing, ?blowed away.? I was right center stage standing behind only one other person. Bruce looked over at me and grinned. He said, ?you know the lyrics?? NOTHING like seeing Bruce up close and getting recognized!

As for Bruce, he was so into the music he sometimes lost himself himself momentarily while grooving and moving. His wife Patti observed with quite an amused facial expression.

I was impressed.

Most importantly, I appreciate the fact that Bruce is paying tribute to Seeger, who turns 87 this month. People will now become more aware of these amazing songs and the man behind them.

Seeger made a mark as a political activist and folk singer. He suffered the indignities of being blacklisted by the government, yet still prevailed with a solo career. His folk group, ?The Weavers? had once skyrocketed to fame and lost momentum because the blacklisting was crippling.

I would have loved to have seen the look on Seeger?s face when Bruce telephoned him to let him know about the tribute plans! Springsteen learned about these songs during that conversation and shared tidbits throughout the show.

It was excellent having my dad share this concert with me because he exposed me to Seeger's vast collection of folk music in the first place. My dad introduced me to Seeger personally when I was four years old at the first Earth Day!

It is evident that Springsteen has identified some of the lesser known songs for his collection to breathe new life into these and keep them alive for generations to come.

Bruce passionately sang, ?Old Dan Tucker? and ?Jesse James,? while side stepping chestnuts such as, ?This Land Is Your Land,? and ?Where Have All The Flowers Gone,?probably because these have been already covered to perfectly by many famous artists including, Joan Baez and Dylan.

Bruce also managed to select some known Seeger-associated songs and infected them with deep emotion such as ?We Shall Overcome,? Erie Canal,? and especially the spiritually moving, ?Jacob?s Ladder.? In addition, he threw in several encores that included, ?When The Saints Come Marching In,? and ?Buffalo Gals.? These spiritually moving songs are climactic moments thanks to Bruce's passion and the back-up vocalists who provided velvety magic and miles of warmth. Bruce?s back-up singers are a superb trio and include his wife Patti Scialfa, Lisa Lowell and Cindy Mizelle who take the audience by the hand straight to the top of "Jacob?s Ladder."

A young curly headed member of the band, whom Bruce seemed to get a kick out of spotlighting deserves special mention. Greg Liszt played banjo and his solos would bring the ladies to clap and cheer him on. Greg looked like he enjoyed the attention and often made some funny faces while performing. His interaction with Bruce was a pleasant surprise.

The remainder of the band includes; Sam Bardfeld on violin, Frank Bruno on guitar, Jeremy Chatzky on upright bass, Larry Eagle on drums, Charles Giordano on accordion and keyboards, Curtis King on vocals, Lisa Rifkin on pedal steel guitar, Marc Anthony Thompson on vocals and Soozie Tyrell on violin.

Bruce and the band ultimately proved repeatedly all night that these folk songs do stand the test of time, indeed!

One day when Bruce is 87, I hope some great energetic famed icon of a younger generation pays tribute to Springsteen's own rock'n collection.



2006-04-20 Convention Hall, Asbury Park, NJ