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The Friday Morning Listen: Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes – Into The Harbour

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It has been a short summer around here. Things got a late start after a June filled with rain and flooding. July and early August flew by with waves of sticky heat. Then, a couple of weeks ago, fall weather moved in. The current temperature is 48 degrees. Very strange. This being New England though, it could be 90 degrees a couple of days from now. It wouldn't surprise me.

When I was a kid, I looked at this time of year with a combination of joy and dread. The sights and smells of autumn have always attracted me. There's just something about the falling leaves combined with those notes of crisp decay in the air. Makes a little boy want to roll around on the lawn. On the other hand, this always came with the start of a new school year. Icky. The very thought made a not so nice feeling congeal in the pit of my stomach. Not even the prospect of buying cool new notebooks and stuff could tamp down the terror.

In my early adult years, school's restart was replaced with camping. Every Labor Day weekend we would pack up the car and enjoy an extended weekend on the state of Maine's seacoast. This was a wonderful way to welcome in my favorite season. That is, until the marriage thing kind of went south and what used to be something to look forward to devolved into yet another signpost of wasted years. Tears came to my eyes as I drove off of Mt. Desert Island.

Well, that was another lifetime. Now I look forward to this time of year for the arrival of two things: deliriously great weather and Southside Johnny at Hampton Beach's Casino Ballroom.

Now that they're both old enough they come along every year, I have taken it upon myself to learn the stepkids about Southside. Not only do they get to see a bunch of older people making fools outta themselves by drinking too much and whooping it up (not that I ever do this. No, you won't see jumping up and dancing my ass off during "Having A Party". Nah, I won't be flinging my arms up in the air at just the right moment of "I Don't Want To Go Home". Okay…maybe), but they get to be steeped in the roots of rock, soul, and the blues. The connection to Springsteen & the E Street Band is a direct and obvious one, with Miami Steve writing many of Southside's biggest songs. "The Fever" is the intersection that's most well known.

I have a feeling about this weekend. It's been sort of dark around here (for me) lately. Something is gonna break loose. I can feel it. There's some bits of a hurricane heading up the coast. The air is crisp, but heavy. Here's what I'm thinking: a reprise of my River-era Springsteen experience. This time, with Bruce showing up at Southside's show to help out with "I Don't Want To Go Home". Reach up and touch the sky? Hell, that'll be pretty easy. Hey, it could happen. The Seeger Sessions tour is on a break. Sure, it's more likely that Bruce makes an appearance at Soozie Tyrell's show at the Stone Pony. A guy can dream though, eh?

So this morning, I'm blastin' the brain with Into The Harbour. Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes have their own sound. As much a part of the Asbury Park club as Bruce, Joe Grushecky, and Willie Nile. On top of another great and unique distillation blues and soul, you get covers of The Rolling Stones' "Happy" and Richard Thompson's "Tear Stained Letter."

Roll the windows down and breathe in the end of summer. Oh, and have a great weekend.

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About Mark Saleski

  • ying

    Very nice article, with light sadness flowing though it….

  • Vern Halen

    Johnny Lyons made some pretty goood albums on his career – in particular, Hearts of Stone was a classic, highly underrated album that SSJ made in his prime that should have made him a zillion dollars in a perfect world. And then, many years later, he cranked out Better Days, another near perfect collection. I don’t know how he’s escaped the notice of the general rock audience.

  • grump

    Bein’ from Pittsburgh it was nice to see Grushecky’s name in the same sentence with Southside n’ Bruce. You can tell whenever the Jukes’re in town by the number of scooters parked at the venue. As to why Lyons never really made it big… seems he’s into the lifestyle more than the business, from county fairs to European tours.