Monday, 26 January 2015

Bruce Springsteen @ Light of Day, Asbury Park 19 Jan 2015

[photo courtesy of Charles Harrison]
For the past 15 years, as winter takes hold and a cold wind blows down the Asbury Park boardwalk, locals have been warmed by the annual Light of Day Foundation concerts and a chance to see Bruce Springsteen in his natural, seaside environs.

Chalk it up to the advent of social media or a creeping awareness of Springsteen's mortality -- face it, the chance of seeing Springsteen in AP decreases with each cruel flip of the calendar -- but the Light of Day shows in AP are now an international event.

Proof? The tale of a gentleman named Charles Harrison from the Great White North. Specifically, Toronto, Canada.

Charles and I met last year outside Melbourne's AAMI Park after an afternoon roll call before Springsteen's first of two shows in town. He's a big guy and I'm tall so at ensuing shows we'd spot one another near the stage and nod like members of a secret society who've discovered the key to the universe is not to be found in the engine of an old parked car but in the pit at a Springsteen show. We've remained in touch via Facebook, where he routinely subjects friends and relations to images of himself and his partner visiting obscenely beautiful locales around the world.

Recently Charles posted on FB that he and his partner had flown into Newark and were driving to Asbury Park when Melbourne 1 started playing on Sirius Satellite Radio (my former employer).
[photo courtesy of Charles Harrison]
I wrote to suggest he visit a favourite Asbury Park eatery called Sunset Landing while he was there and to tell Dona and Rob, Sunset's owners and friends during my years in AP, that I'd sent them. Happily, they were able to visit Sunset Landing and partake in what Charles would call "possibly the best pancakes north of the Mason-Dixon Line!" and snap a photo (right).

Unhappily, Charles received sad news from Canada on the morning of the show. His 88-year-old father, Ted Harrison, had died overnight as a result of respiratory failure linked to Parkinson's.

I can't pretend to imagine what Charles felt when he learned this news. Subsequent communications revealed his dad, who was a teacher and celebrated painter of distinctive Yukon landscapes, passed peacefully after years of being unwell. The sort of passing that brings equal parts relief and sorrow.

But it's still your old man. And you're far from home in a foreign land to see a fundraiser headlined by a personal hero for the very disease that has brought misery and, finally, death to your old man. In my opinion, if there was any place in the universe where Charles SHOULD have been on that day, it was exactly where he was: Among the believers in Asbury Park, NJ.

Here's what Charles wrote to me about the show:
As far as insights - what can I say? K and I have traveled the world following Bruce, met dozens and dozens of wonderful people who share our passion/obsession, many of whom we reconnected with last weekend at the mother of all bucket list items - Bruce and a whole host of Jersey Shore legends playing at the Paramount. This musical matrix is worldwide, ever expanding and forged in a crucible of indestructible love for the ever loving, almighty power of Rock 'N Roll! It never ceases to amaze me that a kid from a small town 80 miles from the Alaska border who was turned on to Bruce's magic by a friend's brother back in 1977 (that'd be yours truly) has established international friendships with like-minded individuals from the farthest corners of the planet. Talk about cutting a wide swath and proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that music is a universal language (a tired aphorism I know), one self-described "Irish-Italian mutt from Jersey" has created more common ground than any Department of Foreign Affairs that I can think of. I can feel The Spirit!!!!

- One Guitar (cameo with Willie Nile Band)

With Southside Johnny and La Bamba's Big Band:
- The Letter
- This Little Girl
- Higher and Higher
- I Don't Want To Go Home

- Janey Don't You Lose Heart (solo acoustic)

With Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers, plus Eddie Manion:
- Adam Raised A Cain
- Savin' Up
- From Small Things Big Things One Day Come
- Never Be Enough Time (Grushecky song)
- Racing In The Street '78
- Pumping Iron (Grushecky song)
- Darkness On the Edge of Town
- Still Look Good For 60 (Grushecky)
- Frankie Fell In Love
- Hearts of Stone
- Save My Love
- Talking With the King (Grushecky)
- Because the Night
- Light of Day
- Thunder Road
- The Promised Land

Charles also shared these photos:

With Southside Johnny.

With Joe Grushecky.

Finally, here's a painting called 'Forest Portage' by Ted Harrison. One of the many wondrous works he crafted living and teaching in the Yukon, a world away from the sea and sands of Asbury Park, that forever interpret his vision of the Light of Day.

RIP, Mr Harrison.

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