SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ —B Street Band, the ever popular Bruce Springsteen tribute band, played a free “drive-in concert” at the Union County VoTech campus on Raritan Road in Scotch Plains on Sunday, evening that had attendees honking in the dark.
Emcee Brian Remo encouraged the audience to honk their horns and flash their lights in appreciation of the performance since the musicians would be unable to hear applause coming from inside the cars. The cacophony caused bewilderment among nearby residents who took to social media to ponder what the noise was all about.
“This event is a great example of how Union County -- through the Freeholders and the Union County VoTech -- is so supportive of the arts,” Remo said.
Union County Freeholder Chair Al Mirabella introduced the acts, including Ray Andersen and Friends, who opened the show and played ‘80s era New Wave and Classic Rock songs to open the show. The group performed songs such as “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds, “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie and “Dreaming” by Blondie before Andersen closed out his set with an original composition with a message of hope for the pandemic.
"As so many New Jersey residents do, I enjoy the music of Bruce Springsteen, and the B Street Band presents a compelling and enjoyable show," said Mirabella. "We are glad to offer Union County residents the opportunity to come out for a free night of entertainment and great music in a safe setting."
B Street Band front man Glenn Stuart, who lives in Fanwood, performed Springsteen classics including “Backstreets,” “Prove It All Night,” “Thunder Road,” and “Born to Run” during the nearly two-hour show.
In a pre-concert interview, the group's founder/keyboardist Will Forte explained that this year has been a difficult one for the band, which had to cut back its normal schedule of 200 gigs a year because of the coronavirus pandemic and lead singer Stuart’s battle with cancer.
Although the band has played countless outdoor shows over the past four decades, the drive-in concert is a relatively new phenomenon.
“It takes getting used to. You have to be more visual. This is one of the bigger ones we had done, and I think this will be the format for some future shows. It has been successful,” Forte said. “We can no longer be primarily a bar band because things have changed. We are looking to have things pick up in the fall, and I hope the casinos will start hiring us later in the year. The bars will be the last thing to come back.”
“We usually do 200 gigs a year, but this year we had to cut back. We want Glenn to get well. We are going with a set list for the first time in 15 years, rather than improvising. We are trying to keep Glenn comfortable," Forte added. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of how he is handling all of this. It’s an eye-opener.”
The band is hoping for a better year in 2021. They are planning some shows in Florida in January and February and will celebrate its 40th anniversary a year later by doing a 7-day cruise to the Bahamas out of Bayonne on Royal Caribbean May 16-23, the week after Mother’s Day.
“It’s a little more intimate than this. People won’t be in their cars,” he quipped. .”It will be a lot of fun. Check it out on Bstreetbandcruise.com."
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