‘Jersey 4 Jersey’ offers musical uplift but also pays tribute to front line pandemic heroes

Springsteen Scialfa fundraiser

Bruce Springsteen performed two songs with Patti Scialfa on the “Jersey 4 Jersey” fundraiser.

The “Jersey 4 Jersey” fundraiser that raised money for the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, tonight (April 22), was an all-star event, featuring Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg and others. But the one-hour special — broadcast on various different TV, radio and online outlets — also gave ample screen time to those working on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis such as doctors, nurses and food bank volunteers.

It was a somber but inspirational production.

Bruce Springsteen opened the show, at 7 p.m., with a brief spoken introduction, and then he and Patti Scialfa performed his “Land of Hope and Dreams,” both strumming acoustic guitars and singing. Later, they performed Tom Waits “Jersey Girl.” The stripped-down setting allowed listeners to hear their voices intertwining gracefully; their immense vocal chemistry is harder to appreciate in a band and/or large-venue setting.

Jon Bon Jovi was the only other performer who played two songs. He did his new coronavirus anthem “Do What You Can” (“When you can’t do what you do, you do what you can/This ain’t my prayer, it’s just a thought I’m wanting to send”) early on, and then closed the show with a gritty version of the dependably uplifting “Livin’ on the Prayer.”

Another special moment came from the surviving members of Fountains of Wayne, who reunited (remotely) to honor their late bandmate Adam Schlesinger, who died from coronavirus, with the band’s bittersweet ballad, “Hackensack.” Sharon Van Etten joined them on bass and backing vocals.

Other performers included Charlie Puth (singing and playing Springsteen’s “Growin’Up” in his bedroom in his parents’ house, the bed visible behind him); Tony Bennett (brilliant as always on the standard, “Smile”); Halsey (“Beautiful Stranger”) and SZA (“20 Something”).

In addition to Stewart, Rock and Goldberg, celebrities who spoke between musical numbers and film segments included Danny DeVito (who reminisced about growing up in Asbury Park and said he’s looking forward to partying there, once the pandemic is over), Chelsea Handler (who talked about “upping” her legal cannibis self-medication since the pandemic started, and demonstrated how to make a face mask out of a bra), Stephen Colbert, Kelly Ripa, the New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley, and Gov. Phil Murphy and his wife, Tammy Murphy.

According to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund’s web site, the fund ” supports organizations that provide essential services and aiding those on the front line of the pandemic. One hundred percent of all online donations will go directly to help those in need.”

For more about the relief fund, visit njprf.org.

Here is a video with the two Springsteen songs:


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