Springsteen Surprise Show

Bruce Springsteen was joined by bandmate  Steven Van Zandt and fellow NJ rocker Southside Johnny in a surprise two-hour jam session that was undoubtedly the highlight of the Asbury Park Music and Film Festival April 21 at the Paramount Theatre.

Springsteen’s performance preceded the premiere of  a documentary about the town’s former Upstage Club, Just Before the Dawn:  Riot. Redemption. Rock ‘n’ Roll, by filmmaker Tom Jones. Joining him and his fellow E-Streeters onstage were Upstage legends and kids from Lakehouse Jr. Pros, performers from the local Lakehouse Music Academy.

“It’s nice to see new talent in Asbury and the old guys still cranking it out,” Springsteen said of the ensemble. “It’s very enjoyable.” The performance featured rock and R&B staples including Chuck Berry’s “Bye, Bye Johnny,” Jimi Hendrix’ “Voodoo Child” and Little Richard’s “Lucille,” as well as one of his early songs, “Ballad of Jesse James.”

The next night, the Boss was back, in the audience watching Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, joining the band for two songs to close the set. “The Upstage was our university,”  Van Zandt told the crowd. Other local graduates who took part in the reunion were David Sancious, “Mad Dog” Vini Lopez and Ernest “Boom” Carter.

Organizers said about 15,000 people attended the April 20-23 festival, which raised more than $100,000 for programs administered by the Asbury Park Music Foundation at the Hope Academy Charter School, the Hip Hop Institute and the Asbury Park Summer Recreation Music Camp. A new bus that brings music to children right in their neighborhoods is also earmarked.

The festival was co-directed by Tom Bernard of Sony Pictures Classics, Grammy-nominated photographer and filmmaker Danny Clinch and Tom Donovan, publisher of the Asbury Park Press and APP.com.

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