Arts & Entertainment

Amid Fan Pressure, B Street Band Pulls Out of DC Inaugural Festivities

Fanwood resident Glenn Stuart has performed with the B Street Band for 27 years. Credits: Facebook - B Street Band page
The B Street Band played at the NJ Inaugural Gala in 2013. Singer Glenn Stuart of Fanwood is pictured here performing. Credits: Facebook - B Street Band page
The BStreet Band began as "Backstreets: A Tribute to The Boss" in 1980. Credits: Facebook - B Street Band page

FANWOOD, NJ -- The  B Street Band, a popular Bruce Springsteen tribute band for more than three decades, has played Jersey Shore bars and local festivals, as well as the 2009 Garden State Ball for Barack Obama's first Inauguration and a return engagement four years later. However, the band, which pioneered the "tribute band" concept in 1980, has never received as much flak for any gig as it has for the upcoming Garden State Inauguration NJ Society Gala in Washington, DC, on Thursday, Jan. 19.

Fans of the Boss and his music took to social media to voice their opposition to the band's appearance at any event related to Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20.(ex: Congrats @BStreetBand You are now officially the most deplorable @springsteen tribute band in the world!). On Monday, the group canceled its performance and posted the following note on its Facebook page.

With deepest apologies to our fans and the New Jersey Inaugural Ball committee, the B Street Band is withdrawing from performing at this year's inauguration Gala. Our decision is based SOLELY on the respect and gratitude we have for Bruce and the E Street Band. 

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Bruce's music has been the foundation of our livelihood. The B street Band would not exist without the talents of Bruce and our E Street brothers. We are most grateful to these rock legends and look forward to many more years of emulating and performing the Forever Music, of Bruce Springsteen.

The band had signed a contract for this gig months  ago -- long before the election took place. That fact did not mitigate opposition, according to Glenn Stuart, singer for the band and a Fanwood resident

"People posted on social media that I should kill myself! I'm not a Trump supporter; I'm far from it," Stuart said. "We had no idea who would be the nominee when we signed the contract."

Some fans, however, did jump to the band's defense:

I'm sorry you guys find yourselves in this terrible position. I would be so conflicted...don't know what I'd do. 

What are they supporting? Themselves, their families, its a gig, job, paycheck! I don't hear anyone coming up with $ to cover their paycheck, let them do their job which they happen to do well! Enough people move on!

To all the members of the BStreet Band - we love you guys, not just as great musicians but most importantly as wonderful people, family men and friends.

Leave the bstreetband alone already!!! The bullying needs to stop.

In response to the criticism, the band posted this statement to Bruce/B-Street Band Fans.

In 2009, The B-Street Band was honored to be contracted by the New Jersey State Society to perform at their gala celebrating Barack Obama’s election celebration.

The gala was so impressive, the society immediately hired the band for their gala 4 years later, in 2013. At that time, we performed for President Obama’s successful re-election. The gala society again enjoyed our NJ Shore flavored style, and signed us a third time for the 2017 gala.

Every four years, the nonpartisan New Jersey State Society of Washington, DC sponsors a bipartisan inaugural gala in January regardless of which party wins the White House. Subject to the availability of tickets, New Jersians and other fans of Garden State are invited to attend. This event is separate from the official and partisan inaugural ball the next night that does require a written personal invitation. The B-Street Band has performed for both political parties dozens of times, starting with DNC events in the 1990’s thru last summer’s featured band at the DNC Block party Philadelphia on Mon. July 25, 2016.

Will Forte, the band's founder and keyboard player said that the group would cancel the performance if Springsteen asked them to do so. As of this writing, The Boss, a vocal critic of Donald Trump, has not yet chimed in publicly on the B Street Band's appearance. However, in September, Springsteen called Trump "a moron." 

A number of "A" list performers have turned down invitations to perform at Trump's inauguration, including Jennifer Holliday, who backed out following sharp criticism from the LGBT community and tenor Andrea Bocelli because fans said they would boycott his concerts and records, according to London tabloid The Daily Mail.

The B-Street Band first performed as “Backstreets, a Tribute to the Boss” on May 19, 1980 in Asbury Park, NJ for an audience of over 2,000 Springsteen fans. Backstreets, now known as the B-Street Band, was the first in the world to do a unique tribute to a live performer. (There are now an estimated 14,000 tribute bands following their lead and performing all over the world.) The band plays almost 200 shows per year throughout the country, including The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, The Hard Rock Cafe in Atlantic City and the Tiki Bar in Point Pleasant. 

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