Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes are a Jersey Shore musical group led by Southside Johnny. They have been recording albums since 1976 and are closely associated with Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. They have recorded and/or performed several Springsteen songs, including "The Fever" and "Fade Away". Springsteen has also performed with the band on numerous occasions and in 1991 guested on their Better Days album. During the band's formative years Miami Steve Van Zandt acted as the band's co-leader, guitarist, songwriter, arranger and producer while other E Streeters including Clarence Clemons, Max Weinberg, Garry Tallent, Ernest Carter, Patti Scialfa and Soozie Tyrell have all performed, toured and/or recorded with the Jukes. The band's horn section - The Miami Horns - has also toured and recorded with Springsteen. More than one hundred musicians can claim to have been members of The Asbury Jukes, including Jon Bon Jovi who toured with the band as a special guest during 1990. Bon Jovi has also cited the band as an influence and Jukes' Bobby Bandiera and Jeff Kazee have also toured with Bon Jovi. Other notable band members include Mark Pender and Richie "La Bamba" Rosenberg who have played regularly with The Max Weinberg 7 on both Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.
1.1 Early years,
1.2 Blackberry Booze Band,
1.3 The Miami Steve era,
1.4 The Billy Rush era,
1.5 The Bobby Bandiera Era,
2.1 Studio albums,
2.2 Live Recordings,
4 External links,
Southside Johnny and Steve Van Zandt, the two prime movers behind the formation of the Jukes, began playing together in various bands during the early 1970s. These bands, initially based out of the Upstage Club at 702 Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park, New Jersey, were usually short lived and often included Bruce Springsteen and various future members of The E Street Band. Amongst the earliest of these bands was Funky Dusty & The Soul Broom, a short-lived 1970 band which also featured Garry Tallent and Bobby Williams (drums). The same quartet also acted as backing band for a local folksinger Jeannie Clark. At the time Van Zandt was also a member of Steel Mill while Southside has just left one of his formative bands, Maelstrom. Next came Steve Van Zandt & Friends, a January 1971 band that also included Springsteen, Tallent, Williams and Danny Federici. By February 1971 Van Zandt and Southside, together with Tallent and David Sancious, were playing as Steve Van Zandt & The Big Bad Bobby Williams Band. In March 1971 Van Zandt and Southside also featured in a short lived Springsteen band, The Friendly Enemies. The highlight of their brief existence was opening for The Allman Brothers. Other members of this band included Tallent, Sancious, Williams and Vini Lopez. In April 1971 Van Zandt and Southside also began co-leading The Sundance Blues Band, a group whose line-up would also feature Springsteen, Lopez, Tallent and Sancious. In May 1971 Springsteen also recruited all the members of The Sundance Blues Band to play in his very short lived band, Dr. Zoom & The Sonic Boom. Among the many musicians to play with this group was Kevin Kavanagh, a future Juke. Kavanagh grew up in Middletown, New Jersey and was a childhood friend of Van Zandt. They had also played together in a band called The Shadows. From July 1971 Van Zandt, Lopez, Tallent and Sancious also began backing Springsteen as The Bruce Springsteen Band and they would eventually evolve into The E Street Band. Southside would also occasionally play with this band. 1972 would prove to be another active year for Van Zandt and Southside. As well as playing with The Sundance Blues Band, backing Springsteen and performing as a duo, Southside Johnny & The Kid, together with Kavanagh, they also played in bands such as Albee & The Hired Hands and the Bank Street Blues Band.
Blackberry Booze Band:
By 1974 Miami Steve Van Zandt was playing with Al Berger in The Dovells backing band and Southside Johnny began to play with the Blackberry Booze Band. It was this band that eventually evolved into The Asbury Jukes. The original BBB had been playing together since 1968 and by 1974 featured a line-up of Paul Green (harmonica, vocals), Paul Dickler (guitar), David Meyers (bass) and Kenny Pentifallo (drums). They had established themselves as the house band at a new club, The Stone Pony. Green was the band's lead singer but he preferred to play harmonica. Meanwhile Southside was playing harmonica with the Bank Street Blues Band but had few opportunities to sing lead. Green and Southside effectively swapped bands and Southside soon emerged as the leader of BBB, firing Dickler and Meyers. He subsequently recruited Kevin Kavanagh and Van Zandt, who in turn recruited Al Berger, and in June 1975, inspired by Little Walter & The Jukes they changed their name to The Asbury Jukes. The original Jukes line-up was then completed with the addition of Mexican American Carlo Novi (tenor sax) and Billy Rush (guitar)
The Miami Steve era:
In July 1975 Miami Steve Van Zandt joined Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and subsequently accompanied him on the Born to Run tour. Meanwhile back in Asbury Park, the Jukes became Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes and continued to play as the house band at The Stone Pony. However Van Zandt maintained his association with the Jukes and produced a four-song demo at the Record Plant Studios that attracted the attention of Steve Popovich of Epic Records. This then led to Van Zandt producing their debut album, I Don't Want To Go Home, at the same studio. Van Zandt also wrote three songs for the album including "How Come You Treat Me So Bad", which featured guest vocals from Lee Dorsey and the title track which effectively became the band's theme tune. Other highlights on the album two songs donated by Springsteen - "The Fever" and "You Mean So Much To Me". Clarence Clemons provided bass vocal on the former but is credited under the pseudonym Selmon T. Sachs while the latter was performed as a duet by Southside Johnny and Ronnie Spector.
During the 1970s Van Zandt went onto produce two further albums with the Jukes. This Time It's For Real, released in 1977, saw Van Zandt write eight of the albums ten songs, including three co-written by Springsteen. It also featured guest appearances from The Drifters, The Coasters and The Five Satins. Their third album, Hearts Of Stone, released in 1978 was recorded without guest appearances and featured entirely original material. Van Zandt wrote seven of the nine songs including "Trapped Again", co-written with Southside and Springsteen. Springsteen also donated two further songs, the title track and "Talk to Me".
The band was also featured in the 1977 film "Between The Lines" which starred then unknown actors Jeff Goldblum, John Heard, Lindsay Crouse, Jill Eikenberry, and Stephen Collins. The band is shown performing 'Sweeter Than Honey" and "Having A Party."
The Billy Rush era:
1979 saw Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes undergo several important changes. Their first three studio albums had only been moderate commercial successes and they were subsequently dropped by Epic Records. His increasing commitments to Bruce Springsteen also saw Miami Steve Van Zandt end his working relationship with the Jukes and this led to Billy Rush taking over as the band's co-leader and principal songwriter. The next three Jukes albums were all released on Mercury Records.The Jukes was recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and produced by Barry Beckett. This was then followed by Love Is A Sacrifice and a double live album Reach Up and Touch the Sky. The latter two both saw Stephan Galfas help out with engineering and production and also featured a trio a backing singers - Patti Scialfa, Soozie Kirschner and Lisa Lowell. 1983's Trash It Up was released by Mirage Records and produced by Nile Rodgers while 1984's In the Heat saw Asbury dropped from the band's name. It also marked the end of Billy Rush's association with the Jukes. After leaving the band Rush went on produce for Taka Boom, Serge Gainsbourg and Kacy Crowley.
The Bobby Bandiera Era:
Guitarist Bobby Bandiera replaced Rush in 1985. The band released At Least We Got Shoes 1986 as Southside Johnny & The Jukes before becoming Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes again. In 1991 they released Better Days which yielded minor hits with "It's Been a Long Time" and "I've Been Workin' Too Hard" and included vocal contributions from Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. Bon Jovi even joined the band as a special guest on their 1990 tour.
The band released several more albums in the 1990s and 2000s and they changed membership several times. Their current lineup includes keyboardist Jeff Kazee and bassist John Conte.
Ex-member Kevin Kavanaugh, born November 27, 1951, died June 4, 2011.
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In 2010, the band released "Pills and Ammo" with songs written by (Southside) John Lyon and Jeff Kazee. The album received critical acclaim internationally. The Jukes continue to perform extensively throughout the Northeast United States and annually in the UK and Europe.
In 2011, looking to expand his artistic opportunities, Southside Johnny and The Poor Fools were formed. Composed of musicians Jeff Kazee, John Conte, Tommy Brynes and Soozie Tyrell, this acoustic-ish ensemble plays a wide range of music from Dylan, Mose Allison, Muddy Waters, NRBQ, Richard Thompson, Emmylou Harris, The Band, George Jones and more, as well as some of the legendary Asbury Jukes material in a stripped down format.
In February 2013, Southside Johnny and The Poor Fools released their debut studio album entitled "Songs From the Barn" (recorded in Jon Bon Jovi's studio, a converted horse barn in New Jersey.) Consisting of twelve tracks, including six original songs written by John Lyon and Jeff Kazee, the recording also includes covers the band has been playing live.