Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I've Got a Crush on You....

He may be a little old for me (I was 8 when he released his first album), but I've got a little crush... Last night I went with Hub and friends to see Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at the Ram's Head Tavern/OnStage in Annapolis, MD. And I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY. I've always liked SSJ's music. I've owned several of their albums for years, but never really followed them closely. They've always been part of my "Jersey Shore" rotation, though, along with The Boss and you-know-who. SSJ has been on many a mix-tape and CD compliation and iPod playlist over the years. When I saw that SSJ was coming to my neck of the woods, I jumped at the chance to FINALLY see them live. Hub has always liked their music (where he simply tolerates Bon Jovi) so I figured this was one concert experience we could share that he might actually enjoy. And with our long-time New York friends back on the East Coast from an assignment in California, it just seemed like the perfect way to ring in 2010/celebrate surviving the holidays. So off we went. And WOW!!! WHAT A SHOW!!! As you can see below, the Ram's Head is a really small venue -- only about 400 seats total. It is TRULY a "juke joint." This pic (not mine) is taken from the VERY BACK of the room, so you can see that it was an "intimate setting." We had a table in the front row, stage right. The stage was ridiculously small for The Jukes--it was pretty funny watching them stumble all over each other trying to maneuver the horns around for various solos. And Johnny never stands still, so... brings a whole new meaning to "Trapped Again", lol. From the first note, I was hooked. The place was ROCKIN'. But lemme tell ya, the breaks between songs were as good as the music! Johnny was HILARIOUS. The banter between the band members and him (especially with Jeff Kazee) was a riot. At one point Johnny jokingly "revealed" his plan to add Jukes Snuggies to the band merch table, and asked the audience's opinion. A woman told him she got two for Christmas and they were crap, so he called her up on stage to explain exactly why, into the mic. The executive decision was that Jukes Snuggies would actually be pashminas, LOL! A little later he offered romantic advice to a couple seated in front of Jeff's keys (Johnny's advice to Him: No more Nachos tonight. To Her: Keep drinking). Then he told them he was going to set them up with a room at the Loew's Hotel across the street after the show. During another song he decided to take a little break while the horns played, so he laid down on one of the tables and relaxed, being careful to make the patrons pick up their drinks first. But the funniest moment of the night was when he bantered with the folks at the front table, asking what they were drinking. The man replied he was drinking a Copperhead Ale (local brew), to which Johnny remarked it was "poisonous snake beer", then the woman said she was drinking Chardonnay. Johnny's crack: "CHARDONNAY? You're drinking CHARDONNAY in a Beer Joint?" After tsk-tsking at her for a moment, he kicked into the next song, only to find his harmonica was broken. He swapped out for a new one, blew a few notes, and promptly declared it wasn't "bluesy enough." So to remedy the situation, he picked up the woman's glass of Chardonnay, dunked his harmonica in it, shook it off, and proceeded to play the hell out of it! After playing, he staggered around a bit, then observed that it was obviously a California Chardonnay, probably a 2008, from Napa Valley, not Sonoma, with a hint of Cabernet Sauvignon. We were practically rolling on the floor, we laughed so hard. Quite a character, is Johnny. The music was, of course, awesome. In addition to some of my SSJ favorites (Gin-Soaked Boy, This Time It's For Real, Walk Away Renee, I Don't Want to Go Home) we got to hear Jeff Kazee croon a little Sting and the Police (which of course Johnny made fun of), as well as a Christmas tune. And I was VERY happy to get a rip-roaring version of my Theme Song of the Month: Workin' Too Hard. We also got a little Jingle Bells from the horn section, which was fabulous. All in all, the 2 hours passed WAY too quickly. I left wondering why the Hell I waited so long to see SSJ live. As you all know by now, JBJ and the boys are never far from my mind, and several times my Jonny-Muse snuck up and tapped me on the shoulder to give me a wink and a grin. It was funny to watch SSJ do some of the same little moves and quirks that I have seen JBJ do on stage. And when SSJ broke out the maracas and started shaking his booty all over the stage, I couldn't stop grinning. It's evident that SSJ was a MAJOR formative influence on young Mr. Bongiovi's stage presence. It was really fun to watch. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun at a non-Jovi show. I'll definitely be in the audience the next time Johnny and the Jukes come to town. If they're in your town, make sure you get yourself down to the show, ready to laugh and sing and shake your booty. You won't be sorry! And yeah, Johnny's still got it. *SIGH* Jersey Boys are like fine wine... NOTE: These pics aren't mine and they aren't from last night's show, but they fit my narrative. Thanks to whoever put them out on the Web for Google Image to find!


  1. I have We're Having a Party way back in the 90's but never got to see them live. Sounds like you had a blast. But I do agree when I see someone other than JBJ and the boys it just isn't the same. But until I get in the gray or black I ain't seeing anyone.

    Will have to keep checking to see if SS and the J's play anywhere close and see if I can con someone into taking me with them.

  2. Glad you had a great time ... Jeff said that the show was on fire last night.

    I was hoping to make it down for the Birchmere show but I will have to settle for seeing them on New Year's Eve at the Count Basie (I know ... poor me ... LOL)

    And, yes ... you can most definitely see the influence on JBJ - I wouldn't call it copying or mimicking, but definitely influence.

    One of the things I love most about Southside is that there seems to be no filter between his brain and his mouth sometimes ... and so on certain nights, his banter and actions are just so frickin' hilarious.

    I'm very blessed that they tend to do 5-6 shows a year right here in NYC at BB Kings. Next one is end of January.

  3. This is just a wonderful review! I love it when first-timers get to share their experience of a Jukes show. And I'm glad you've got everything and then some to take home with you... Thank you so much for sharing!

    I did put up a link on http://AsburyJukes.net

    Have a rockin' 2010!

  4. Hi There! I'm the marketing director for Rams Head On Stage. Your blog just came to me in one of our google alerts and I think it's fantastic! I'd love to share it with our patrons through our own blog, but wanted to get your permission first. Just shoot me an e-mail at lhanly @ ramsheadtavern.com.

    Thanks so much & nice writing!

  5. Arrived in Annapolis from Edinburgh, Scotland, to spend new year with a very special young Lady who had purchased 2 tickets for SSJ at the Ramshead Tavern. It was my first and won't be my last time seeing them live.Having first a lovely meal at the Ramshead then into then into the concert hall, may I say the Ramshead is the most wonderful place for seeing live bands. Having just seen Bruce Springsteen at Hampden Park Stadium in Glasgow, it was a real joy to actually see and hear a band so tight and comfortable in their intimiate surroundings. To say the Joint was Smokin' would be the understatement of the year.As an added bonus being a big Stones fan it was an absolute delight to hear SSJ's rendition of 'Happy' complete with harmonica.That was the icing on the cake. I for sure will be back for second helpings. So big big thanks to Sharon and SSJ for an unforgettable evening. Already looking forward to Glasgow Ferry 2010 gig


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