Monday, October 27, 2008

Go Home Already

I spent an unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon watching Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes play a set to a largely uninterested crowd in the "Piazza" of the new Tanger's outlet mall in Deer Park. This was the mall's grand opening weekend and the beautiful weather brought out shoppers in droves, searching for bargains, not glorified bar bands. Their loss though, as Southside and his current crop of Jukes put on a great show which featured a lot of tunes from his current record, "Grapefruit Moon," a collection of Tom Waits tunes. I guess this gig was better than doing a supermarket opening, but I really think it's time for this band to take up a residency somewhere - Atlantic City certainly comes to mind. Some forward thinking casino should build them their own room. Southside has no problems covering tunes - he's not a songwriter - and nobody plays better boardwalk music outside of that other guy from Jersey (no, not Jon Bon Jovi).

Southside Johnny Lyons is a good vocalist and fine harmonica player and the band is tight. The current keyboardist was a good foil for Lyons - he is sort of a "Dr. John Lite" - and some of the highlights of the show is when the horn section stepped up to do some New Orlean's style group solos. They were in good spirits despite having to play for a bunch of bargain hunters looking for discounts on overpriced designer goods.

The Jukes would make a great fixture at a casino, in a nice throw-back, Vegas strip style room, two shows a night with maybe three on the weekend. Have some Jersey Boy comedian open and get Southside a girl singer he can bring on during the show a la Keely Smith. I think it would be a big hit and a much better gig than this one - and you would still be able to shop after the show.