“Get yourself a song to sing and sing it till you’re done
Yeah, sing it hard and sing it well
Send the robber barons straight to hell” — Bruce Springsteen, “Death to My Hometown”
The B-Street Band, a Jersey-based group that plays the music of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (as well as other material), has made national news by agreeing to perform at the Jan. 19 Garden State Inaugural Gala, at the Washington Court Hotel.
With the incoming Trump administration having a hard time securing prominent entertainers for its inauguration celebrations — and with Springsteen himself having called Trump a “moron” and a “toxic narcissist” — some members of the press have used this as an opportunity to have some satirical fun.
But some have gone too far. To cite just one example, The New York Daily News posted an article stating that “Donald Trump still hasn’t booked an A-list performer for his inauguration, but he has locked up the B Street Band, a Bruce Springsteen cover band that’s been playing since 1980” — as if Trump himself got on the phone and offered the B-Street Band a deal. That’s ridiculous.
This event is presented by the New Jersey State Society — a networking organization for the New Jersey community in Washington, D.C. — with Gov. Christie and his wife serving as honorary chairs. Trump didn’t organize it, and won’t necessarily get anywhere near it.
The band responded to the criticism with a post on its Facebook page today, stating that it has “no political agenda” and describing the event as a “bipartisan” gala that “celebrates the change of office and gives respect to the office of the president.”
On the gala’s Eventbrite page, where its tickets are being sold, it is also described as “a nonpartisan affair.” BUT … the gala is also described there as an event to “celebrate the inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence.” Somehow, given the present climate in Washington, I suspect a lot of democrats are going to sit this one out.
“It’s got nothing to do with politics whatsoever,” band member Will Forte told Rolling Stone. Forte also told NJ.com that the band signed on to perform at the event four years ago.
But with the country as divided as it is right now, and the stakes as high as they are … sorry, but you’ve got to take a side. And if you’re anti-Trump, maybe you even have to break a contract.
The B-Street Band, by agreeing to play this event, has taken a side. And it’s not the side that Springsteen has taken.
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Normally, I would not begrudge a band that I assume is not making big bucks accepting a lucrative, high visibility gig. This, however, is different–but not because I opposed Trump. It is offensive that a band which purports to honor Bruce–and which profits primarily from his music–is part of honoring someone he hates and lies about this being a partisan event.
I disagree with the premise of the article that the B Street Band has taken a side. Are the caterers who serve the food for this non-partisan reception (which takes place every four years no matter who is inaugurated) taking a side? Are the chefs who prepare the food taking a side? I thought we won a battle when the courts said that a florist had to provide flowers for a gay wedding even if he or she did not accept the validity of gay marriage. The B Street Band is playing a gig for which they were contracted four years ago after they performed for President Obama’s inauguration. They deserve a paycheck just like everyone else who is working during the inauguration ceremony. This event is not a “Trump-sponsored” event but rather a gathering of New Jerseyans living in Washington, D.C.
“A” list acts can afford to sit this one out. But I think even Bruce would not begrudge these guys a nice paycheck for a gig booked so long ago. Give ’em a pass.
I’d love to know Bruce’s feelings about that.
There is an obvious difference between performing artists and caterers: the latter are pretty much anonymous. And even if the catering company has a big advertising banner at the event, the individual employees are still anonymous.
A band performing on stage is clearly not anonymous.
They state that they are contractually obligated to play. If so, that’s fine if they have asked to be excused from the contract. If they must play then the solution is simple – just don’t play any Springsteen songs. BTW they claim to be the #1 Springsteen cover band. Never heard that from any other source. Bold claim when there are Springsteen cover bands all over the country.