surprised a hometown crowd on Friday night when he jumped onstage at the Asbury Park Music and Film Festival and jammed with a crew of old friends to celebrate a legendary local venue.
The occasion was the premiere of a new documentary, Just Before the Dawn, which tells the story of the short-lived but well-remembered Upstage Club, an alcohol-free joint that lived on Cookman Avenue in downtown Asbury Park, above a Thom McCann shoe store, from 1968 to 1971. Luckily for the world, that was about the time when a young Springsteen was in need of a place to take his guitar and meet likeminded musicians. Hanging out at the Upstage were future Garden State luminaries like Southside Johnny Lyon, Steve Van Zandt and various future members of the E Street Band.
The Upstage lived long enough to propel this bunch to stardom, then closed. Efforts to revive the club through the years have consistently fallen through.
Springsteen, who popped up last week with a scathing anti-Trump protest song, donned a gold Gibson Les Paul on Friday and joined Steve Van Zandt, Southside Johnny Lyon, and a few other Asbury Park alumni for some hip-shaking versions of “Lucille” and Muddy Waters’s “Got My Mojo Workin’,” among other tunes.
“It’s nice to see new talent in Asbury and the old guys still cranking it out,” Springsteen told the Asbury Park Press afterward.
Watch Springsteen jam on “Lucille” below (via Billboard)...
...And play a deep cut going back to the days of the Bruce Springsteen band, “Ballad of Jesse James,” here:
And while you’re here, check out this exclusive video of Bruce and E Street Band playing “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” at a 1978 show, from the bottomless Paste Cloud.