By Chris Rotolo, The Creator
On Saturday evening the title of Bruce Springsteen’s latest single, “We Take Care Of Our Own,” assumed new meaning as The Boss walked The Press Room planks with Boccigalupe & The Bad Boys, an all-star band of Jersey Shore musicians, in the name of lifetime Garden State resident, and longtime Springsteen compatriot, Tony Strollo, whose recent passing at the age of 40 staggered the Asbury Park music community, which appeared in force for this musical fundraiser in support of Strollo’s two daughters, Chloe and Gracie, and wife Jana.
From within downtown Asbury Park’s newest late night house of music Bruce performed the role of the playful soul man to a capacity crowd of no more than 200 patrons, whose massive show affection and exuberance coated the venue’s picture window in condensation cutting off the outside world to the joys within, while trading verses with vocalist John Oeser on such classic compositions as “Soul Man,” “Hold On I’m Coming,” “Knock On Wood,” and an electrifying rendition, with full brass accompaniment, of the “Detroit Medley,” but not before Springsteen joined Tony’s brother, and local solo artisan, Michael Strollo on stage.
The pair shared a series of smirks between cuts from the penman’s 2010 full-length release Bedroom Eyes, Strollo from underneath a spotlight and Springsteen, caked in shadows, upon a stack at the back of the stage, strumming along upon Asbury’s own Reggae-Rock maestro Quincy Mumford’s acoustic six string, including “Could Die Young Tonight,” which Strollo admitted was his brother’s favorite tune from the compilation.
But it was the bookend numbers performed by The Boss-led Baccigalupe & The Bad Boys that highlighted the night as the collective commenced its set with a raucous rendering of the E Street Band staple “Rosalita,” and concluded its collection of Rock and Soul music with an homage of sorts to late great Clarence Clemons via a captivating, venue encompassing, sing-along on “10th Avenue Freeze Out,” prompting Springsteen to remark, “Here’s the important part,” before recounting the tale of how “the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band.”
However, let us not forget why The Boss was in attendance, why members of the Boardwalk’s music community congregated in that locale. It was for a man, a friend, a husband, and a father who left his mark on the souls of many and departed from this life far too soon.
The emcee of the evening, Rich Robinson, said it best: “We’re not just a musical community, we’re a family. When one of us is need, we all come to help.”
In the Jersey Shore’s musical hub by the sea, they do indeed take care of their own.
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