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Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes in Jersey and New York: Two more nights to rock September 25, 2010

Posted by Anton A in American music, Southside Johnny.
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This was Southside Johnny weekend here in the NJ/NYC area. Last night Johnny & The Jukes inaugurated the bandshell and amphitheater at the new section of Overpeck County Park,  up in the town of Ridgefield Park. The park was a quick ten-mile drive from my house, couldn’t have been more convenient. I plotted my route through the apparent maze of roads & highways around the park with the help of Google Maps; it proved to be easy to follow and, wonder of wonders, the signage along the way was excellent.

They’ve done nice earthworks at the amphitheater, building a genuine bowl-shaped area so that the lawn-chair-&-blanket people can see over each other. A little flat area immediately in front of the stage was roped off for the ardent fans who wanted to stand and rock. I was able to walk right down and hang a dozen feet from the stage. That was a treat.

Johnny and the band brought the goods, as always. New bassist Skip Ward was on the job in place of John Conte. It never seems to matter; Johnny has a group of seasoned, skilled players to draw on. They’re tight when they need to be and loose when you want ’em that way. They always put a grin on my face.

Unfortunately I was not prepared, map-wise, for the trip home. The cops had closed off the south entrance to the park after the show, so I could not retrace my route. I asked a cop how to get where I needed to go, but he gave me bad directions such I that wound up driving in a huge 7-mile circle through darkest Englewood, only to find myself right back where I started. Found my way at that point, thankfully.

 
Tonight the band and the fans took over BB King’s, on 42nd Street, for a couple of hours. It was a general admission / standing room show; they’d cleared the floor of the usual jammed-in tables and chairs, which was a welcome change. This place is such a contradiction, coupling what may be the best sound system in an NYC club with practices and attitudes that scream “CLIP JOINT!” in every other respect. I won’t go into the litany of aggravations I’ve had at previous shows there.

Tonight’s scam was an unadvertised midnight rap event that slapped a 10:00 curfew on Johnny’s show. Maddening. You go onto the club’s website, see that Johnny starts at 8:00, you’re thinking you might get another sweet 2 & 1/2-hour show, but nope, that’s not gonna happen at BB King’s when they have a chance to turn the room over twice. Bastards.

Anyway, that aside, I’ve never heard any band sound better than they do in this miserable place, and that held true for the Jukes. The 2-hours-flat show was a blast. Bobby Lynch was sitting in on the keys for Jukes stalwart Jeff Kazee; Johnny said something about Jeff being down in Baltimore earning a lot of money at that moment.

A choice piece of audience interaction: Johnny kept asking the crowd what they wanted to hear and sometimes played what they wanted. At one point he walked over to a particualrly loud guy and said, “We’ve already played two songs you asked for, if you ask for one more, I’m gonna make you move to the back to the room. Or else you’re gonna buy beers for everybody here,” drawing a circle with his arm.

After the next song tbe guy was back at it. “OK, that’s it. Waitress! 20 beers, right down here!” He wasn’t joking. A waitress showed up with a bucket of beers & Johnny made the guy pay, though not without adding some bills from his own pocket.  Relenting a bit as they settled the tab, Johnny asked the guy, “How much did you pay? Eighty bucks? OK, I’ve gotta give you some more.” Reached into his pocket, pulled out a couple more bills, handed them down.

Then, with that wry grin of his: “Damn! That’s all I’ve got? That’s the way it happens every time. You come into New York with a pocketful of money and leave with nothing but a pocketful of memories.”

Love that guy.

Seriously, for my money, Johnny and The Jukes are the most inspiring live act out there right now. The setlists below (my thanks to the fans at the Southside Forum for these) will give you an idea of how they shake things up from night to night. Don’t be surprised to see me at their show up in Westchester in two weeks. I’ve got a fever and the only cure is MORE SOUTHSIDE!

9/24/2010
The NEW Overpeck Park
Ridgefield Park, NJ

Forever
You Can’t Bury Me
Passion Street
I Played the Fool
Walk away Renee
Woke up This Morning
Coming Back
Got to Get You off of My Mind
Talk to Me
Lost
Harder Than It Looks
Love on the Wrong Side of Town
Hearts of Stone
Tango Till They’re Sore
All Night Long
This Time It’s for Real
You’re My Girl
Lead Me On
Fever
Trapped Again
I Don’t Want to Go Home

First Encore:
One More Night to Rock

Second Encore:
We’re Having a Party

Band Lineup:
Vocals, Southside Johnny
Keyboards, Jeff Kazee
Guitar, Billy Walton
Bass, Skip Ward
Drums, Tom Seguso
Guitar, Glenn Alexander
Baritone Sax, Ed Manion
Trombone and Guitar, Neal Pawley
Trumpet, Chris Anderson
Sax, Joey Stann

9/25/2010
B.B. Kings Blues Club & Grill
New York, NY

Happy
I Played the Fool
Love on the Wrong Side of Town
Lead Me On
Harder Than It Looks
Take It Inside
Gin Soaked Boy
Paris
Woke up This Morning
Cadillac Jack
Better Days
Talk to Me
Into the Harbour
Cross That Line
All Night Long
Tango Till They’re Sore
One More Night to Rock
Without Love
I Don’t Want to Go Home
Fever
Trapped Again

Encore:
Forever
We’re Having a Party

Band Lineup:
Vocals, Southside Johnny
Keyboards, Bobby Lynch
Guitar, Billy Walton
Bass, Skip Ward
Drums, Tom Seguso
Guitar, Glenn Alexander
Baritone Sax, Ed Manion
Trombone and Guitar, Neal Pawley
Trumpet, Chris Anderson
Sax, Joey Stann

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