There were two kinds of Bruce Springsteen fans in Asbury Park this weekend: mildly disappointed and wildly overjoyed. The latter were either at the Atonement Lutheran Church on Saturday afternoon or the Wonder Bar later that evening. Springsteen was the surprise guest at the church for a panel discussion about the history of the Asbury Park music scene. Sitting alongside Southside “Johnny” Lyon, Bobby Thomas of The Visionaries and singer Nicky Addeo, Springsteen spent 90 minutes talking about the city’s rich musical past.
A few hours later everybody headed over to an event at the Wonder Bar, where Springsteen joined all the artists for a six-song set of covers that included “Stand By Me,” “Gloria” and “C.C Rider.” Former E Street band drummer Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez was behind the kit for the whole set, and he sang lead on “Johnny B. Goode.” It was one of just a handful of times that Springsteen and Lopez have shared a stage since he was fired from the E Street Band in 1974.
The next night, the Stone Pony (just steps from The Wonder Bar) held a benefit concert for the club’s original owner Butch Pielka. The line-up featured many Springsteen associates – including a reunion of Bobby Bandiera’s Eighties band Cats On A Smooth Surface – and a Bruce appearance seemed like a lock. Only it didn’t happen.
There’s still no word about Springsteen’s next project, though rumors started flying last week when former Pearl Jam drummer Matt Chamberlain Tweeted: “When the Boss calls you got to go!” and “Today I’m headed out to NJ to record with that guy from there, so excited.” Shortly after the news started ricocheting through Springsteen fan forums, Chamberlain’s Twitter account was taken down. As Backstreets points out, Chamberlain is the go-to drummer for producer Ron Aniello, who frequently works with Springsteen’s wife, Patti Scialfa. The sessions may have been for her new charity single “Children’s Song,” but it’s impossible to know for sure.