Glenn Stuart, who “plays” Bruce for New Jersey’s B Street Band, sat down to talk about developments in the world of Springsteen, personal projects and more.
The world’s longest-running Bruce Springsteen tribute act, New Jersey’s own B Street Band, comes to Melrose, Mass., this weekend to perform their second annual benefit for the Polymnia Choral Society. Glenn Stuart, who “plays” Bruce for the band, sat down with Wicked Local in advance of the show to talk about developments in the world of Springsteen, personal projects and a very special guest.
Wicked Local: You had a special guest at a gig recently, when Springsteen guitarist (and “Sopranos” actor) Steve Van Zandt came on stage with the band. How did that come about?
Glenn Stuart: The gig was a party for the CEO of Hard Rock International, his name is Jimmy Allen. He’s very good friends with Steve and he’s good friends with Clarence (Clemons, Springsteen’s saxophone player). They do a lot of charity work together and they’ve become friends over the years. So Steve just came down as a party guest in honor of Jimmy’s Birthday.
Once he came in, Jimmy introduced us to him, we got to talk to him for a few minutes, had a couple of pictures taken. We went back up to play and he decided to come up.
I gotta tell you, it was really weird when I looked up and saw Steve Van Zandt standing next to me with his bandana on and his devilish grin. I didn’t even know what we were gonna (play) — I kept asking him, “What are we gonna do?” He kinda looked at me for a minute, and he said, “Ah, I’ll surprise ya.” Then he went into the lick from “Glory Days.” So we just followed him. It was a great time.
WL: Springsteen has a boxed set coming out next month featuring outtakes and footage from 1978’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” Are you doing more “Darkness” material in anticipation of that release?
GS: It’s actually my favorite record. I like the starkness and the simpleness of it. And I think that some of his best songs were written during that period. I’m interested and curious to see what they’re gonna release.
We just pulled [“Darkness” outtake] “Rendezvous” out of the closet — we haven’t played that in a long time, so we’re starting to do that again.
WL: Are you involved in any other, non-Springsteen projects, or does the band keep you too busy?
GS: Yeah, actually, I’m in the process right now of recording and producing a CD with an 18-year-old kid from Jersey here who I think is absolutely tremendous. His name is Kevin Basko. He’ll be attending Berklee (College of Music) actually, starting next year. He’s a singer, songwriter, guitar player, in that John Mayer/Jason Mraz kind of vein. But he’s got a lot of influences.
Out of the blue one day his mom called me and she said, “Kevin has a bunch of songs that he wrote on his own, I wanna send you the CD.” It actually kicked around my car for like two weeks before I ever even played it. I was driving home from a gig one night at like 3 o’clock in the morning and I put it on and I almost ran off the road, the songs were so good.
So we’re in the process of recording arrangements to the songs that he wrote. We’re probably about three quarters of the way through and we’re hoping to be done by the end of this month
WL: The B Street Band played the inauguration for Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey —was there a real political atmosphere to that show, or was it just a party?
GS: I mean, obviously it was political — it was a big Republican night, it was his inauguration. We (also) played for him on election night at his campaign headquarters — we were actually on national TV that night, because they kept cutting in and out, and every time they cut in we were playing.
So then, after he won the election, obviously they went through the whole thing where they asked Springsteen to play and he declined. So after that, they asked us to come do it. Not being in the same position as Bruce Springsteen, of course, we couldn’t say no! You don’t say no to the governor. Unless you’re Bruce Springsteen.
Read the full interview at Blogness on the Edge of Town.