A note from Joe Molineaux: As a regular columnist in the paper and online, I have the opportunity to share information, ideas and more each week. For my weekly “Listen Up!” column, I have the pleasure of talking about one of my favorite subjects, music. I have met and continue to meet many people that enjoy music as much as I do. So with that in mind, I will be encouraging those people around me to share their thoughts and views on music from time to time on these pages and online. I hope you enjoy this week’s Listen Up by guest columnist Jim Zieries.
Thanks Joe Molineaux for asking me to contribute to this week’s Listen Up! column. Ever since the summer before my sophmore year of high school, when I saw my first concert, I have remained passionate about live music. Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes had just released "Live: Reach Up and Touch the Sky" and I had the opportunity to see them perform at Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall (now Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall). That show is what started the epic journey of live shows ever since.
Since then I have embraced concerts in so many different musical genres and have seen well over 1,000 shows throughout the country and abroad. There are a few groups I have seen from 30 to 60 times each and they include the Grateful Dead, Phish, Dave Matthews Band, moe. and Bruce Springsteen.
Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band are known for their live performances with the energy and emotion they pack into a 3½ hour-plus performance. Bruce’s lyrics have been speaking to me for over forty years, and I have been blessed to see him during incredible performances including a show at the Circus Maximus in Rome, Italy, where I was with my wife and three children in the Pit in July 2016.
Another time Bruce influenced me was on my birthday in January 2009 when he was a guest DJ for E Street Radio on SiriusXM. For this article my intent is to share ten artists and songs that were played that day and encourage the readers to look these up on YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, archive.org or any other means necessary:
• "The Conductor Wore Black" by Rank and File: This song was released in 1982 and when you listen to the lyrics, it’s clear it served as inspiration to Springsteen’s "Land of Hope and Dreams"
• "Into Action" by Tim Armstrong: a ska band out of California that nails this up-tempo song in its black-and-white video. I played this numerous times over the years at high volume when my kids were having trouble getting out of bed.
• "Ramshackle Day Parade" by Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros: Joe Strummer from the Clash sings this slow meaningful song that some interpret to be about 9/11
• "Stuck Between Stations" by the Hold Steady: A band out of Minneapolis performs this catchy song off of its acclaimed album "Boys and Girls in America." It could have served as an inspiration for Bruce’s "Radio Nowhere." Bonus track from the Hold Steady: check out their cover of "Atlantic City"!
• "Bridging The Gap" by Nas: The very talented Nas was not in my musical wheelhouse, so hearing this song introduced that day was an eye opener. The song about his father’s influence and support is definitely worth checking out.
• "Santa Ana River Delta Blues" by Wiskey Biscuit: Released in 2000, this Los Angeles band definitely has a punk edge to them, and you won’t stand still listening to this fast-paced piece. When looking it up note that the band does not spell their name with an “H”.
• "99 to Life" by Social Distortion: Lead singer Mike Ness has such a distinctive voice, and while this song isn’t the most pleasant subject it’s worth the search. Still kicking myself for not going to see them in Asbury Park’s Sea Hear Now Festival in the summer of 2018, when Bruce showed up to play with the band and ended with the Johnny Cash cover "Ring of Fire."
• "Shackamaxon" by Slo-Mo: Not to be confused with Joe Mo, Slo-Mo was originally from Leeds, England, and a very good hip hop band. This song appears to have some clear Philadelphia references in the lyrics.
• "Series of Dreams" by Bob Dylan: Bruce was called the next Bob Dylan and there is no doubt Dylan (aka Robert Zimmerman) had a big influence on Bruce early on in his career. With Dylan’s vast and well known catalog, "Series of Dreams" may not be that well known and again is worth seeking out. “Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true / Or is it something worse” — "The River."
• "How Will You Shine" by the Gourds: Likely more famous for their song "Gin & Juice," the Gourds have a fun sound to them and this song is upbeat and catchy.
I want to leave the readers with five “bonus” tracks to check out from the bands I have seen the most:
• Grateful Dead: "Scarlet Begonias/Fire on the Mountain" from Barton Hall at Cornell University, May 8, 1977
• Phish: "Harry Hood" from The Mann Center in Philadelphia. July 8, 2014
• Dave Matthews Band: "Take Me To Tomorrow (John Denver Cover)" from the One World Concert at Syracuse University, Oct. 9, 2012
• moe.: "Rebubula" from The Borgata in Atlantic City, July 23, 2004
• Bruce Springsteen: "Real Word" from the Christic Concert in Los Angeles, Nov. 17, 1990
For those who take the time to look up these songs and artists I hope you agree that getting turned on to new tunes enriches the musical journey. Enjoy!