Arts & Culture Music

Bruce Springsteen in Charlottesville and I’m There, Oh Yeah

A Stroke of Good Fortune

I scored tickets to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert in Charlottesville this Tuesday, October 23 at John Paul Jones arena. A stroke of luck you could say. Having wanted to go — yet needing to keep an eye on my family’s tight budget — I had passed on the tickets when they first went on sale in September. I’ve seen The Boss three times (and this will be my fourth), but there’s one thing about seeing The Boss: it ain’t cheap. So, I passed. I’ve got diapers to buy, a mortgage to pay, car payments, student loans, groceries, etc. Priorities are priorities and I’m not in my 20s, single, without kids, and just paying rent anymore.

In comes my good fortune, by way of my father-in-law’s friend from his old college days at the University of Virginia. What’s even better is that my sister — very much a diehard Bruce Springsteen fan (I believe this will be her sixth or seventh concert of his) — had jokingly asked for tickets for her birthday coming up on November 2, then said, no, no I’m just kidding — because of the price.

Well, happy early birthday to my sister and happy late birthday to me. I landed two tickets — valued at $96/per — plus a parking pass, all for $50. Can you say, sweetness? I’m very gracious Sonny asked me. This sure beats what was going to be one of my sister’s presents: a Target gift card. She’s pretty stoked to say the least.

Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen (1982)

Goodbye to the Big Man, Clarence Clemons

Perhaps the only bummer about seeing Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band again is that Clarence Clemons won’t be on the sax this go ’round. I’ll miss his lungs and giant presence on the stage. The Big Man died last June (2011) from complications from a stroke he suffered. He was 69. Andy Greene from Rolling Stone magazine wrote a wonderful eulogy on Clemons following his death.


So much has been said and written about the stormy night in Asbury Park in 1971 when Clemons met Springsteen that it’s hard to separate fact from myth. At the time, Springsteen was a struggling musician playing the New Jersey bar circuit and Clemons was a former college football player who spent his nights playing sax in clubs on the shore. “It was raining and thundering like a motherfucker,” Clemons wrote in his memoir. “When I opened the door it blew off the hinges and flew down the street . . . Somebody introduced me to Bruce, everybody knew everybody, and he asked me if I wanted to sit in.”

During his 1999 induction speech into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Springsteen recalled that 1971 night in Asbury Park. “He got up on stage (and) a sound came out of his horn that seemed to rattle the glasses behind the bar, and threatened to blow out the back wall,” Springsteen said. “The door literally blew off the club in a storm that night, and I knew I’d found my sax player. But there was something else, something happened when we stood side by side.  Some energy, some unspoken story.

Fittingly, Jake Clemons, Clarence’s nephew, an accomplished saxophonist in his own right, will be taking over his uncle’s former duties on the Wrecking Ball tour.

It Won’t Be the First and Surely Not the Last

I’m looking forward to the concert and in spending time with my sister. We don’t get to do that much these days. It’s not our first Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert together and it surely won’t be the last. I think everyone who has ever gone to a Bruce Springsteen concert knows it’s not typically a one-time or even two-time experience. You keep going back, again and again — reliving the glory days of how that music took control of you for the first time and never let go.

If you’re going, I’ll see you there.


2 replies on “Bruce Springsteen in Charlottesville and I’m There, Oh Yeah”

Aren’t we so glad your daddy, Wayne Pillow introduced us to Bruce Springsteen’s music! Great article Jeff…I really enjoyed reading it. Remember we were at the first concert following the sax player’s death. You could feel the sadness that night. If you have ever gone to one of his concerts you know you get your money’s worth! He plays and sings overtime!

Didn’t realize it was Daddy. Makes up for the Lynyrd Skynyrd. Ha. As for the last Bruce concert, Clarence Clemons, the saxophonist, was still very much alive then. He just died last year. It was the keyboardist, Danny Federici, that had passed away you’re thinking of. They dedicated the tour to him.

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