Passaic

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‘Flowers Are Red,’ Harry Chapin and Chevy Chase at Capitol Theatre

One of my favorite entries so far in the 350 Jersey Songs series is a clip of John Belushi guesting with The Allman Brothers Band at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic. So here’s something similar: Chevy Chase duetting with Harry Chapin at the Capitol, in 1978. The occasion was a benefit concert for Bill Bradley’s U.S. Senate campaign (which was ultimately successful). The Roches also performed, and Dustin Hoffman spoke about Bradley and read a long poem, Kenneth Koch’s “Some General Instructions.” In the clip below, watch Chase join Chapin for the nonconformity anthem, “Flowers Are Red,” which Chapin included on his 1978 album, Living Room Suite. Continue Reading →

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‘Trapped Again,’ Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes at the Capitol Theatre

As most Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes fans know, the tradition of the group playing a New Year’s Eve concert in New Jersey goes back a long way. And once upon a time, those shows were held at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic. Check out, below, a great black-and-white clip of the band playing a pulse-pounding version of “Trapped Again” at the Capitol on the last night of 1978, with keyboardist and backing vocalist Kevin Kavanaugh really making his presence felt towards the end, trading anguish pleas with Southside. Written by Southside, along with Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt, “Trapped Again” was a highlight of the 1978 Jukes album, Hearts of Stone, which many Jukes fans consider their favorite. New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday from Sept. Continue Reading →

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‘Dedication,’ Gary U.S. Bonds

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Gary U.S. Bonds’ roots are in Florida and Virginia, and he’s a longtime Long Island resident, but he also became an honorary New Jerseyan in 1981. A singer-songwriter specializing in raucous party songs, he had had some hits in the early ’60s (“Quarter to Three,” “New Orleans,” “School Is Out”), but the rock world had largely forgotten about him by the early ’80s. But Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt remembered, and co-produced his ’81 comeback album, Dedication. They also wrote some of the material, and they and other E Street Band members backed Bonds on it. Bonds got back on the charts (and back on the radio, with hits “This Little Girl” and the Springsteen duet “Jole Blon) and has retained a strong bond (no pun intended) with Jersey rock fans ever since. Continue Reading →

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‘I Met Him on a Sunday (Ronde-Ronde),’ The Shirelles

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The odds against being “discovered” at a high school talent show are astronomical. But it really did happen, at least once. The Shirelles — Shirley Owens, Doris Coley, Addie “Micki” Harris and Beverly Lee — sang a song they co-wrote, “I Met Him on a Sunday (Ronde-Ronde),” at a Passaic High School talent show in 1957. Luckily for them, one of their classmates, Mary Jane Greenberg, was the daughter of a woman, Florence Greenberg, who had her own record label, Tiara. Tiara released a recording of the song, which sums up a romance in a few lines (“I met him on a Sunday … Continue Reading →

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‘Hey Bartender,’ John Belushi with Allman Brothers

Those attending the Allman Brothers Band concert at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic on April 20, 1979, might have been expecting something special, since the show was being broadcast live on WNEW-FM. And they got, probably, a bigger surprise than they were expecting when John Belushi showed up during the encores to sing the blues standard, “Hey Bartender,” with the group — and do a cartwheel, which is visible at the 1:25 mark of the video, below. Belushi had already done his Blues Brothers routine on “Saturday Night Live” at this point, and the Blues Brothers album Briefcase Full of Blues came out in 1978, though the hit movie “The Blues Brothers” did not come out until 1980. I’m not sure who that is taking the harmonica solo on this song. If anybody knows, please let me know in the comments section, below. Continue Reading →

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‘I’m So Afraid,’ Fleetwood Mac at Capitol Theatre

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Capitol Theatre in Passaic was one of New Jersey’s leading rock venues — a regular stop for any band on a theater tour, or even an arena act looking to do something more intimate. The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Grateful Dead and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band played there. So did The Byrds, The Clash, U2, Prince, The Police, Billy Joel, Rush, Van Morrison, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, Frank Zappa and Talking Heads. In October 1975, Fleetwood Mac, which had undergone constant member changes in recent years, stopped at the Capitol on its first tour featuring the new five-piece lineup that had made its July ’75 Fleetwood Mac album: Co-founders Mick Fleetwood, on drums, and John McVie, on bass, along with John’s wife Christine on keyboards and vocals, Lindsey Buckingham on guitar and vocals, and Stevie Nicks on vocals. The lineup stuck, and Fleetwood Mac became one of the biggest bands of the ’70s. It is still touring to this day, though the tour that comes to the Prudential Center in Newark on Saturday will be its first since 1997 to feature Christine McVie. Continue Reading →

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