"There's one thing I've always wanted to do," Southside Johnny confesses, "and that is to sing." And he has been doing just that for over a third of a century. In a business where success is defined as getting a second single and longevity measured in nano-seconds, just surviving for more than 30 years is a rare accomplishment. But Johnny and the Jukes have not just survived - they have flourished. They've produced over thirty albums, several EPs and a box set. They've given thousands of live performances around the globe. They boast a legion of dedicated and enthusiastic fans, dozens of classic songs, and a record, Hearts of Stone (1978), that Rolling Stone named one of the Top 100 Albums of the '70s and '80s. In short, they have it all.
How did Johnny get to where he is now? "I guess some things were just meant to be," he muses, his humility concealing the historical reality. Singing and playing in a number of blues and R&B bands at the now legendary Upstage Club, often joined by pals Bruce Springsteen, "Miami" Steve Van Zandt, and Garry Tallent, Johnny began his career working at making "meant to be" into "is." It wasn't easy. "We played for years on the shore, but it wasn't until Bruce hit with 'Born to Run' that these A&R guys would drive to Asbury Park to see what was happening." Southside (so nicknamed because of his bent toward the blues sounds of the south side of Chicago) and his band, eventually called the Asbury Jukes, worked on growing their reputation as a dynamic live band through the late '60s and early '70s. Then, in 1975, the band signed with CBS/Epic Records, released the critically acclaimed I Don't Want to Go Home (1976), and a legend was begun.
What followed has been almost four decades of recording, touring, and solidifying a place in rock 'n' roll history. In 1992, the band released the fan favorite album Better Days, which found Johnny reuniting with his original Asbury Park collaborators Bruce Springsteen and Little Steven, along with relative "newcomer" Jon Bon Jovi. After a significant hiatus from the studio, Johnny returned in 2000 with Messin' with the Blues and has been releasing albums with the Jukes ever since, including the group's most recent efforts Pills and Ammo (2010) and Acoustic Ammo EP (2011). When you distill this band down to its essence, you get almost 40 years of great music and good times. Southside brings both to the stage tonight at B.B. King Blues Club. Don't miss it.
Saturday Beatles Brunch