NEPA Scene Staff

B Street Band performs with original Bruce Springsteen drummer in Jim Thorpe on Dec. 30

B Street Band performs with original Bruce Springsteen drummer in Jim Thorpe on Dec. 30
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From a press release:

After dealing with controversy before their Scranton concert earlier this year, the popular Bruce Springsteen tribute act The B Street Band will return to the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe on Saturday, Dec. 30 with original E Street Band drummer Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez.

Doors open at 7 p.m., and the all-ages show begins at 8 p.m.

Tickets, which are $20 in advance or $25 at the door, can be purchased on the Opera House website, by calling 570-325-0249, and by visiting SoundCheck Records (23 Broadway, Jim Thorpe) or calling them at 570-325-4009. The facility (14 W. Broadway, Jim Thorpe) is open from noon-5 p.m. on show days, and tickets are available for most shows at the door at showtime. Parking is available and free after 5 p.m. at the Carbon County lot behind the train station.

Recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Lopez backed Bruce Springsteen from 1968 through 1974 in several bands and performed on Springsteen’s first two albums, the classics “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” and “The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle.”

In 1973, B Street bandleader Willie Forte had a life-changing experience in fellow high school star Joe Maddon’s Dodge Dart. They were cruising their native Hazleton when Maddon, now the manager of baseball’s Chicago Cubs, popped in an eight-track cassette of the second album from a New Jersey musician he thought Forte would dig. It was a tires-screeching, switchblades-flashing, rambling rumble written by and starring – who else? – Bruce Springsteen. Forte was hooked.

The B Street Band first performed as “Backstreets, a Tribute to the Boss” on May 19, 1980 in Asbury Park, New Jersey for an audience of over 2,000 Springsteen fans. From the heart of the Jersey shore, “Backstreets” was the first band in the world to do a unique tribute to a live performer. There are now an estimated 14,000 tribute bands following their lead and performing all over the world.

Nearly 5,500 performances and over 35 years later, the B Street Band is still the hardest-working tribute band on the circuit, with almost 200 shows per year throughout the country. Forte and his comrades have performed all over and off the map. There have been parties with Bruce lookalikes; gigs with Clarence Clemons, the late saxophonist in Springsteen’s E Street Band; and opening slots for the Boss’ final shows at the now-demolished Spectrum in Philadelphia, one of his favorite venues.

The band was proud to accept an invitation from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame “Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen” exhibition at the Constitutional Center in Philadelphia. They were featured during the opening, middle, and closing nights. The B Street Band’s unprecedented legacy continued as they represented New Jersey at the inaugurations for President Barack Obama in 2009 and 2013 and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in 2010.

The Philadelphia Eagles knew a good thing when they saw it and asked The B Street Band to perform at all of their home games in 2013. The band also demonstrated their talents at several events for the New Jersey Devils, including a performance at the Stanley Cup playoffs in front of a sold-out crowd of 16,000 fans.

The band also has its share of celebrity friends, including Chairman, CEO, and brains of the Hard Rock International James Allen, who can be found at many band performances and retains them for countless venues and fundraisers throughout the country. Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” has enjoyed numerous performances over the years and has admitted to Springsteen and in an article in Rolling Stone magazine that the only band he has seen more than the Boss is The B Street Band.