Monday, August 4, 2014

Photo of the Day: ‘Bruce in the U.S.A.,’ in Pittsburgh

That photo I took of the imposing fellow with a sax to the contrary, I did not see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in the (formerly) Smoky City’s Station Square. So yes, I know: that headline is a bit of a tease, folks. It must be something in my Gaelic blood.

Film fans will recall the fine Irish comedy, Hear My Song, which begins with a young music promoter who, feeling the need to juice up the box office, advertises the appearance of “Franke Sinatra.” Technically speaking, the entertainer is named “Franke,” but—contrary to what many disappointed fans believe—it’s not Ol’ Blue Eyes from Hoboken, N.J, but a European import masquerading behind the intentional misspelling.

So, for those of you who clicked on this under a misimpression, my apologies. But there is an act called Bruce in the U.S.A., and I, like many others gathered at twilight on Station Square, reveled in the sounds of this Bruce Springsteen tribute band.

It was, in a way, compensation for what I had to miss the night before. Tramps Like Us had played Thursday night in Westwood, not far from where I live in Bergen County, N.J. I had dearly wanted to catch them, having missed out on a prior concert in the same venue during an intolerable summer heat wave. I was sorry to miss them yet again because of the need to pack and rest before a long drive the following day.
So, when given the opportunity to see another Springsteen tribute band, I jumped.

The “Bruce” in Bruce in the U.S.A. is not from Asbury Park, or even from New Jersey. Actually, Matt Ryan is Canadian—but, with his facial hair, black shirt, lean looks and guitar, he passes quite well for The Boss of 20-some years ago.

Matt, like The Boss, also has a good buddy, Matthew Sully (sporting a bandana reminiscent of Miami Steve Van Zandt), on guitar. And there is yet another tribute within this tribute band—how else, then, to account for an organist named Atticus Finch?   
But my favorite performer in this fine group of musicians is saxophonist Dave McLaurin, who combines skill with considerable charisma, not unlike the late, beloved Clarence Clemons.

The group, which has been around for a decade, played a tight set with standards such as “Glory Days,” “Dancing in the Dark,” “Brilliant Disguise,” “Born to Run,” “Jungleland,” and scorching versions of “Because the Night” and “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”.

Tribute bands occupy a distinct part of the music scene that, at this juncture, will not go away. For all willing to accept that, Bruce in the U.S.A. evokes the same kind of fist-pumping, clapping, dancing response so many of us have had over the years to Springsteen himself.

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