Sunday, 27 January 2013


LOD 2013
Part 4

Day 4

I keep thinking that the weather must break but it's another gorgeous day.

No breakfast for us today. We’ve booked a table at McLoones again for Songwriters by the Sea so we are trying to save ourselves. We eat so little, by rights, we should be as thin as rakes but it doesn’t seem to work that way.

We are keen to go and see Ocean Grove so retrace yesterday’s steps but this time walk on further passed the Casino.

Ocean Grove is an interesting place - well we thought so. I understand it has been through tough times but seems to have come out the other side and appears rather well-to-do now. It’s a dry town set up by a group of Methodists as a sort of summer camp. We researched all this after we came back and it explains why there are beach chalets surrounding the church. 

The streets are full of Victorian houses and newer builds in-the-style-of. Imagine the main street in a Western - Court House, General Store, brothel, that kind of thing - that’s what it reminds me of. It would make sense given the time that the original houses were built.

The boardwalk here seems to have taken a bit of a hit but the houses are apparently OK. 

I’m not sure whether they escaped the worst of Sandy or whether they have already been repaired.

Anyway we meandered around in our usual fashion, with no particular idea of where exactly we were heading, and happened upon the main street. There are a few quaint little shops and cafes but if you want more than a cup of tea or coffee you will be out of luck!

On our way back to the hotel we decided we couldn’t manage all day without food so we stopped off for a coffee and a cake in Cookman Avenue. Free Wi-Fi here and we find out from the UK that there was a wild party in our hotel lobby last night. This internet thingy is pretty impressive - the other side of the World knows what’s happening in our hotel before we do!.

So then onto the music which is after all why we are here. We nipped into the hotel bar for Songwriters by the Sea - Mike in his slippers - did I say we were beginning to feel right at home? This afternoon session was pretty laid back with everyone on stage together taking turns to give us a song.

On to the evening’s Songwriters by the Sea at McLoones. It followed the same format as the afternoon session with all the artists on stage together.Such a good contrast to the previous night. We sat at a table eating our meal and absorbing the atmosphere. Very leisurely and laid back. I’m a big fan of acoustic music so hearing songs, familiar from last night, given a new sound was right up my street.  

We ended with a nod to Bruce again - hearty renditions of Hungry Heart and Twist and Shout.

Mike and I spoke to James Maddock and Joe D’Urso after the show. They were both very gracious, signed the CDs we had just bought and took time to chat. Well, Joe was so chatty we could hardly get away! 

... and a good night was had by all.

Friday, 25 January 2013


LOD 2013
Part 3

Day 3

Another beautiful day. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and life is good. I’ve got over my disappointment. We are looking forward to tonight’s show and just happy to be here.

Breakfast at Frank’s again. So good, and great value for money. Mike has corned beef hash and scrambled eggs and I have bacon and eggs ‘over easy’ - I don’t necessarily want them cooked this way I just like saying it. 

To be perfectly honest there’s not much to do in Asbury Park except eat and drink. Some of you will know that Mike and I are no gourmets and don’t drink a lot. Luckily the weather is so good we can indulge in one of our favorite things - walking.

The boardwalk between the Paramount Theatre and the Casino is closed- fenced off - but I know, from some research before leaving the UK, that there is access to the beach north of the theatre. It's clear we can walk around the end of the Convention Hall to part of the beach which has no access from the boardwalk. 

We trudge along - it's hard work walking in the sand - and I take many, many many photos, most of which I have discarded already.

There are a lot of other folks doing the same and - look! - people on the boardwalk itself. Not to be outdone we climb up too. Some of the boards are intact and look undisturbed but there are chunks that are impassable unless you're prepared to balance on beams.  Apparently all will be open again in May 2013.

So just up to the Casino and back today as we intend to call in at the Wonder Bar in the afternoon for 'Asbury Blues'. By now we're coming across the same people again and again and I no longer feel out of place as we wave to one or two already in the bar. I think I might have put myself under a bit of pressure to enjoy everything I heard but to be honest the music wasn’t really to our taste. I’m sure the musicians are very talented but all this noodling does nothing for me. I like a bit more structure to my music. Anyway at least we can say we have been to a gig at the Wonder Bar.  

We had booked a table at McLoones to eat before the night’s big concert.  Although the doors to the Paramount opened at 6.00pm we were told there was no need to arrive at the start so we aim for 7.00pm to 7.30pm. 

Lovely place, McLoones, with a great view. Could I ever have believed that we would be sitting in a restaurant in Asbury Park looking out at the Paramount Theatre? 

Sometimes I can’t believe my luck - Friday I felt so unlucky but a day on and I know just how lucky I am. Oh My goodness the starters are so big we can barely eat our mains and we're so stuffed by the time we set out for the theatre we can barely move. 

Great seats - four rows back towards the middle and Christine Martucci is just coming on stage.  She's fab. Would like to see her again. The whole night is so well organised, a full band set followed by an acoustic set, played in front of the curtain, whilst the next band is setting up behind.

With or without Bruce the night is fantastic and despite a stinking headache I manage to stick it out until the end and Mike gets to see Joe Grushecky play live.

Looking back there was only one act we really didn't like (I won’t say who), and anyway, if we weren’t keen we only had to suffer around 20 minutes or so before the next act came on. Darlene Love was great and surely that will be our one and only chance to see her live. A bonus - Brian Fallon joined Jesse Malin - albeit for a very brief session. It might bode well for a longer set another year though. 

At the end of his set Joe Grushecky tells us that Bruce sends his love. 'Needn't be sending his love to me' I say. I've fallen out with him - at least for the time being. I still joined in with a rousing rendition of Thunder Road though.

We both enjoyed it so much we’d would go again in a heartbeat.  

Thursday, 24 January 2013


LOD 2013
Part 2

Day Two

The Berkley had some bad reviews on TripAdvisor so I was more than a little worried. Here we were and -yes - the room was a little tired in places but it was big, had a comfy bed and great views of the ocean.

We had been to Asbury Park before but only for a few hours. Whilst I wasn’t exactly blase about this visit I had nothing like the feeling that I had when we arrived the first time. That was a magic moment and although it was amazing to be here again nothing will ever beat that first step onto the boardwalk. It’s funny - I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get the same buzz, yet pleased  a second visit didn’t spoil the fantastic memories of the first. 

Anyway off to our first breakfast at Frank’s Deli. Here is where the help of Badlands really comes into its own. To be perfectly honest I think Mike and I would have given Frank’s a miss, even if we had ventured that far into town. We knew some areas of Asbury were a bit rough and Frank’s, just a basic cafe with no pretentions, didn’t look like a place we would visit. Fair do’s though - it was good. We had a great breakfast and saw some faces we knew. I was beginning to relax into this a bit now.  

I did strike up a conversation with Janice who we thought we recognised from our group. It turned out that, although she was Scottish, she hadn’t come over with Badlands at all! Made a mental note to be more observant in future and from then on if people looked familiar my mantra was ‘Do they belong to us?’

After breakfast it was on to Cookman Avenue. This area of Asbury Park has seen some regeneration but to get there we walked down Main Street which is certainly in need of some TLC. It was a beautiful day, very cold but we were well wrapped up and walking along in the sun my mood lifted. After all we were in Asbury Park!

Cookman Avenue had some interesting shops and restaurants and a coffee shop which would be a good bet another day when we hadn’t just eaten breakfast. Looking round shops isn’t really our thing and we had already decided not to go to the daytime gigs so... what to do now? We had passed the bus/train station on our way so headed back to see where we could go.

Red Bank - only five stations on the train, about half an hour - change at Long Branch. 

Do-able then but next train wasn’t for an hour. It was warm in the station waiting room so we sat down and marvelled at the janitor who spent the whole hour mopping a floor which would have taken me half the time.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone work with so little urgency but Mike says he was just being thorough.

The train journey was so easy, and surprisingly, as we had no map, we managed to get ourselves into the centre of Red Bank without any trouble. More shops but it was a nice little town and we did buy a couple of CDs from Jack’s Music Shoppe and two very gooey cup cakes.  A coffee and sandwich at a ‘proper’ diner and off back to get ready for The Stone Pony that night.

Ooooo excitement - Joe Grushecky is just checking in to our hotel! What luck to be passing through the lobby at the right time. We had a quick chat with him and his wife - Lee Anne, shook his hand and Mike had his photo taken. Result for Mike. He is a big fan, has always wanted to see him live and meeting him was a bonus.

Denny Laine was appearing at McLoones early evening and without doubt this was going to be popular. We had decided not to go, so headed down to the hotel bar instead. Hardly anyone there but Joe Grushecky and his family were having a meal - oh god he’ll think we are stalkers! We got ourselves a drink and didn’t have long to wait before we had more company - do they belong to us? It turned out they did and it was here that I overheard the news that Bruce wasn’t coming. It was a definite as he had published a statement on his web site. 

I had considered coming to LOD many times before but this year was the first time I thought I could come just for the experience and not to see Bruce. We had both decided that Bruce would be a bonus but I was realistic enough to admit that I wouldn’t know exactly how I felt about a no-show until it actually happened. Well it has happened and I was gutted.

On our way to The Stone Pony we popped into McLoone’s to catch a glimpse of Denny Laine. It was absolutely heaving and the set from ‘Abbey Road’ didn’t particularly appeal. Octopus’s Garden was our cue to go.

Wow! We are at a gig at the Stone Pony - what’s not to love? Nothing actually - well perhaps there was one band we didn’t like. Faces were becoming familiar, people were saying ‘hi’ and I was beginning to feel more at home - this is fun!  We must’ve stayed until about midnight and you will hear us singing on the Asbury Angels Theme Song when it’s released.  Actually I hope you wont hear me singing as I can’t hold a note.

Back to the hotel and time to dwell on the fact that Bruce won’t be here. Let’s be honest I’m still feeling a bit sorry for myself but I’d said I wouldn’t mind and  I’m persuading myself I don’t mind.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013


LOD 2013
Part 1


I’ve started a year book. It’s not a diary just bits and pieces - what I am looking forward to, what I hope to achieve and significant events that happen in the year.

On the opening page I say that I think 2013 is going to be a good year. I felt optimistic, lucky even. 

Sitting in the hotel bar in Asbury Park on Friday night, having just learned that Bruce is not coming to LOD 2013, I knew that I had been wrong.

Day One

We had a trouble free journey but it was a long day and tiredness had made us niggly with each other. As we were due out to our first gig almost immediately it was a quick wash and brush up before going down to the hotel bar. There was a pretty big crowd and scanning the room proved we recognised only a few people. We said hello to one or two but most were already chatting in groups. These situations are often a bit awkward don’t you think? There’s a fine line between muscling in on other people’s conversations and looking stand-offish. Although I’m sure no-one would have minded if we had joined in, we elected to sit on the edge looking interested. 

We had no chance to get our bearings so followed others down to Asbury Lanes. This must have been about 7.00pm or so. We stood - just the two of us together - for, perhaps, three hours listening to bands we had never heard of, playing stuff that we didn’t really enjoy. This might be a bit unfair. We just weren’t in the mood to be won over.

Around 10.00pm part way through Joe D’Urso's set we had to give in and shuffled, thoroughly exhausted, back to the hotel.

I sat on the edge of the bed wondering what on earth I had done. Here we were in Asbury Park living my dream and all I wanted to do was go home!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Thank You and Goodbye

I have often been asked why I started writing this blog. In truth I never intended to write a blog at all but Mike had decided he would have a go. Our friends bought him a book to help him along. I read it and was inspired to start this. That was at the beginning of 2010 and my first post was published on 9th January that year.

At first the blog fitted around our lives but then, especially during the tour last year, our lives started fitting around the blog. The balance shifted a bit too much and the writing that I had so enjoyed became a chore. Bruce should never be a chore so, as long ago as May, I decided to end the blog after the Wrecking Ball tour. At that time the tour was due to end around August 2012.  It went on into September and then until December, and as we all know, it is carrying on into 2013.

I, however, am not. This will be my last post.

I must thank Ceinwen and Sinead for their great support and encouragement in the early days and for everyone who has commented on my posts, or simply, told me how much they enjoyed them.

Biggest thanks need to go to Mike for not complaining when all my spare time seemed to involve writing about Bruce. He was also a great critic and the best proof reader ever.

And lastly I have to thank Mr Springsteen because without him there would have been no blog.