2004-11-06, Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ

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Bruce joins Joe Grushecky at the annual Light of Day benefit.

Eyewitness accounts

Were you there? Write about it!
larry wrote: it was awesome - some of the best energy i have seen and I have seen Bruce 60-70 times. Code of Silence, From Smak things. murder incorporated...wild set

Kyle Pucciarello wrote: Wow...holy s^%*...and oh my goodness...

I called up the Stone Pony at about 7:30 to see if they had any tickets at the door, and Domenic said if I got down there before 9:30 I'd be guaranteed to get in.

So off I go down the Parkway to Asbury Park, and get there at just past 9:00. Saw Domenic and bought a ticket from him. There were two women looking for tickets also, and when they heard I got one (they needed 4...) they asked if I needed a date. I said sure, and the security guard goes "well, he at least LOOKS like Bruce" but that was the end of that.

I got in just in time for JoBananno and the Godson's of Soul who did a pretty good set. Bocci and the Bad Boys did their usual great set, including an always great "All Along the Watchtower."

At this point I am about 5-10ft from the stage so I was in very good position and sightline. There was a lot of hustling 'n' bustling (thanks Walt Frazier for letting me use this line) around me but it died down thankfully.

One of my favs, Willie Nile was up next. This guy is one helluva character. He is a very talented writer and is very energetic on stage, always a treat to see. After him was Jeffrey Gaines, equipped with just an electric guitar. This guy was extremely talented, but perhaps too mellow for the crowd. He almost seemed to know that it wasn't going well, which was unfortunate, because I was really enjoying him.

And then of course Joe Grushecky took the stage. I guess at this point it was about 12:45 or so and you could see some of the fatigue in people around the club. Unlike last year, I wasn't there from 4pm on, so, although I was a bit tired, I was still ready to go.

Joe did four of his own songs, including "Everything's Going to Work Out Right" and "Long Way to Go" which were good. Joe's son played guitar with him, and although he's probably even younger than me, he's a pretty good guitar player. Got a lot of energy on stage with some, well, very interesting facial expressions (even more pronounced than Bob Dylan's random sneers).

And then, it happened. My curse of Bruce never wanting to be in the same room as me ended, and out he came! As usual, the energy level just went through the roof. The band kicked into one of Grushecky's songs, "Idiot's Delight" with Bruce on guitar and backup vocals.

Then that familiar but unfamiliar opening guitar riff of "From Small Things" and the place went nuts. One thing that was fun to see was that everyone in the crowd knew all of the words to all of these songs...definitely the hardcore crowd. Very good version of the song, my third time hearing it, each time better and better.

After a Grushecky tune, Joe prompted Bruce by saying "alrite, your turn," which got a nice laugh from the crowd.

A Bruce quadruple-shot followed, with a great Johnny 99, Code of Silence, Atlantic City, and Murder Incorporated. Code of Silence was good but seemed lacking in something, perhaps Grushecky's vocals although I'm not sure.

Atlantic City was a fantastic version, as the "come on and meet me..." part near the end of the song seemed to last about five minutes with energy building on each repeat of the line. And then "Murder," which was the first time I've ever got to hear the song live, and what a thrill that was. Some fantastic guitar work going on with that.

And that's one of the points with these Bruce club shows (my first!). He really lets loose on the guitar and you see that he's still got that Darkness era guitar work down in him somewhere.

After two Grushecky songs, "Talking to the King" and "Never be Enough Time," they kicked into "Mustang Sally." This was another one of those "only in a club" moments, and it was a lot of fun to see/hear Bruce on his vocal turns, having a lot of fun and acting a little goofy.

Then Bruce takes out his harmonica and I'm racking my brains to figure out what he'd play. He kicks into "This Hard Land," which I was kinda shocked to hear in a club setting. However, this was one of the stronger versions of the song I've heard, with a real nice vocal performance by Bruce. At the end of the song where Bruce does the harmonica solo, he seemed to have a bit of trouble staying with the beat. At one point he even pressed his hand against his ear to block out everything. It was pretty loud in there...my ears are still buzzing twelve hours later.

Then Bobby Benjamin was brought onstage and sung happy birthday to. They brought out a cake for him and Bob gave his thanks to everyone. He also made a brief political statement, and referenced Bruce's "Vote for Change" efforts. This was followed by a surprising "4 More Years" chant from the back of the club. Kind of an awkward moment...

Grushecky's drummer kicked into the opening beat of "Light of Day," and here we go. Bruce and Bob traded/shared vocals on some parts, and Bruce had some scorching solos throughout the song. Only my second time hearing this one, and it was a lot of fun.

In the middle of the song, before the "I've been thrown out of work..." verse, the band went down and did a "na, na na na na, na na na na, na na na, na na na, na na na" which of course translates brilliantly into text. Bruce was at his absolutely goofiest trying to get the crowd to get softer and louded, also telling Grushecky that, if he wanted us to participate, he had to "point to the crowd." This was a really funny part, Bruce using that Steven Tyler-esque voice to get us going.

The band and Bruce did a fake encore here, as Bruce mentioned something to the effect of "yea we're not even going to bother walking off the stage and coming back." Pretty funny moment.

A bunch of the night's artists came onstage, including Bocci and Willie Nile at the beginning, and about everyone else throughout the song. The final song was a little Jerry Lee Lewis medley of "Great Balls of Fire" and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On." Good versions of the songs, with Bruce, JoBananno and (?) doing backup vocals on the latter.

The show ended at about 2:40, but the night was not over!!

As I was walking back to my car with a friend of mine, I spotted Bruce's Range Rover parked behind Jimi's where the "This Too Shall Pass" mural is. I told my friend to hang out there for a second, as I ran to my car to get a marker and my "Tracks" boxed set in case I finally got to meet the man himself.

After a series of people coming out of Jimi's, let out by the secret knock of "knock knock," it was about 3:00am. Me and my friend decided we'd wait another 5-10 minutes and then call it a night.

About thirty seconds later, out came Bruce. There were only about 15-20 people there prior to this, but once he came out another 25 people appeared out of sky. However, since me and my friend were the first there and closest to the door, when everyone came in we got pushed literally right to Bruce. It was like some magical force swept me over to him...amazing...and it happened so quick.

Near the end of the show, my friend yelled at "play Ramrod," and Bruce responded that it would be a good one. However, they didn't play it, so he asked him why. Bruce responded "Well yknow, I was just goin' with the band, what can I say?"

A guy got his shirt signed; it had a picture of him and Bruce on it and Bruce told the man he remembered taking the picture. And then, it was my turn!!

I asked him if he'd sign Tracks for me and he did. I told him great job tonight and with the Vote for Change efforts, and he appreciated it. He signed my "Tracks" and I was going to try to get out to give others a try. But I couldn't, so I'm literally shoulder to shoulder with him.

A girl showed him a tattoo she had of his signature, and he gave her a kiss saying she desereved it. But after that, Bruce, obviously tired, said he was going home and thanked everybody. Only three autographs signed, and I was one of them!!!

He got into the Range Rover and sped off, and that was that.

I'll tell you one thing though, I have never felt more alive and energized at 3:00am than ever before in my life.

What a night!!

Scooter wrote: Bruce was thre early... spent most of the time at the mixing board... Many who were in the special smoking area directly behind the mixer did not recognize him (most kept asking, "is Bruce going to show?"...... He then joined Joe G at about 12:45 am and played till 2:20am.....

Scott Kern wrote: ?Seaside Bar Song?

The juke joint?s hummin?, everybody came down Little Willie and the Soul Brooms layin? down all his stuff now?

We were disciples of the late great Philly DJ, Ed Sciaky, who weaned us on Born to Run as teenagers living in New Jersey suburbia in the mid-70?s??.

I was 19 years old with my then girlfriend (later wife, Marie Mazzochetti) when we saw our first Springsteen concert, 15 rows back on the floor, for Show #6 at The Spectrum on July 19, 1981.

His music is the soundtrack to my life as we continued to follow his career and go to his shows with the dream of seeing him in a very intimate venue before I died??..

Sometimes in life, persistence pays off.

This is our story?..

Last night the ghosts of thousands of unknown and forgotten Jersey Shore bar bands from the past, along with the spirit of James Brown, Van Morrison, AM Radio, Joni Mitchell, The Ramones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and the 60?s sounds of R&B and Soul all converged on the beach town of Asbury Park last night in honor of the 5th Annual Light of Day shows benefiting Parkinson?s Disease and Muscular Dystrophy.

The Whiz Bang Gang from Uptown arrived shortly after 6pm and took up residence center stage in front of the soundboard and settled in for a night of music and hope.

Hey Waldo, quick turn around?.Bruce Springsteen is standing about five feet behind us, behind the soundboard watching Boccigalupe and The Bad Boys (band) just like us!!!

It was now 12:40am. We and the rest of the crowd had now been standing for almost seven hours listening to great music. Believe me, NO ONE was leaving the bar now!

The Pony was packed to capacity with a few hundred people waiting for Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers to take the stage, knowing full well that the rumored musical guest was in the house.

The energy in the joint was enough to light up the Asbury Park Boardwalk from the Casino to Convention Hall!!!

Grushecky and his band played a couple numbers capturing that Steel City blue collar music inspired by years of collecting old 45s when he looked stage right and welcomed Bruce Springsteen to the stage to a thunderous applause from the fans!

Okay??I?m standing in the legendary Stone Pony on a Saturday night and Bruce Springsteen is on stage playing guitar about 50 feet in front of me??

Is this a dream?

The band broke into FROM SMALL THINGS (BIG THINGS ONE DAY COME) with everyone in the crowd singing along. Springsteen was soloing like a madman, smiling ear to ear. JOHNNY 99 also from Nebraska was much like the version he played during the Vote For Change shows. Again, Bruce was doing his best Neil Young impersonation of pounding on his Telecaster.

CODE OF SILENCE was the next obvious choice, representing a song that Grushecky penned in 1997 appearing on the recent Essential Springsteen 3 CD collection. Next was ATLANTIC CITY with his acoustic introduction that broke into a full band electric version. Amazing bar-room version!!

Grushecky?s teenage son joined the band for an over-the-top version of MURDER INC. playing guitar next to Bruce Springsteen. I guess he?ll have some interesting stories to tell his high school buddies on Monday morning.

Rockin? version of Wilson Pickett?s MUSTANG SALLY with everyone singing along!!!

THIS HARD LAND was a welcome treat from Tracks box set which had Springsteen playing harmonica while we all wondered if the song would possibly be Thunder Road or maybe something from the Darkness album. This was even better! What a treat!!!!

LIGHT OF DAY was the encore with the founder Bob Benjamin (afflicted with Parkinson?s) joining Springsteen and Grushecky for a loud BUT touching version of the song from the 1987 Michael J. Fox movie of the same name with the song lyrics.

?I got a little lost along the way, but I'm just around the corner to the light of day." The crowd was singing along at a feverish pitch not wanting THIS moment to end!!!!

The rest of the musicians joined Springsteen for a closing 60?s medley of R&B songs including GREAT BALLS OF FIRE/SHOUTWHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN? GOING ON.

It was nearly 2:30am when the house lights came on and we filed out into the blackness of 2nd and Ocean Avenues.

Dream realized???..We were floating on a cloud!!!

Scott, Fran, Kevin and Jack
November 6, 2004
Stone Pony
Asbury Park, New Jersey


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