NEPA Scene Staff

B Street Band plays Xmas tribute to Bruce Springsteen at Stage West in Scranton on Dec. 20

B Street Band plays Xmas tribute to Bruce Springsteen at Stage West in Scranton on Dec. 20
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From a press release:

Following a sold-out charity show in Hazleton last week hosted by baseball manager Joe Maddon, the Bruce Springsteen tribute act The B Street Band will perform at Stage West in Scranton this Friday, Dec. 20.

The band, which has local ties and claims the title of the “longest-running tribute band in the world,” will play “a tribute to the Boss Xmas-style.”

Doors at Stage West (301 N. Main Ave., Scranton) open at 7 p.m., and the 21+ show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets, which are $15 in advance for general admission and $100 for reserved tables of four on the ground floor on the balcony, are on sale now via Prekindle.

In 1973, B Street bandleader Will Forte had a life-changing experience during high school with fellow Hazleton native Joe Maddon, now the manager of the Los Angeles Angels and previous manager of the Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays. They were cruising around in Maddon’s Dodge Dart when he 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, a play on Springsteen’s own E 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.

Over 5,500 performances and 40 years later, The B Street Band is still the hardest-working tribute band on the circuit, with an average of 200 shows per year over the last decade. Forte and his comrades have performed all over and off the map. There have been parties with Bruce lookalikes; gigs with E Street Band members Miami Steve, Max Weinberg, Garry Tallent, Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez, and the late Clarence Clemons; and opening slots for the Boss’ final shows at the now-demolished Spectrum in Philadelphia, one of his favorite venues. The band has opened outside for Springsteen at several other venues, including Wells Fargo, the Prudential Center, IZOD Center, Wachovia Center, and Xfinity Live.

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. They made headlines after backing out of the Garden State Presidential Inaugural Gala for Donald Trump in 2017, as Springsteen himself is an outspoken critic of Trump.

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. They’ve played fundraisers, country clubs, concert series, and events for Hard Rock Cafe Chairman/CEO James Allen, the Special Olympics, Wall Street, and they were the first band to perform on the Fox News Channel.

The band has its share of celebrity friends, including 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. In 2017, they were the subject of an hour-long documentary called “Almost Boss: The Longest Running Tribute Band in History.”

All these years later, Forte and Maddon are still friends. On Dec. 13, Maddon hosted his annual Broad Street Bash to raise money for his nonprofit organization, the Hazleton Integration Project, and The B Street Band was there to provide the live music. Former New York Yankee outfielder Bernie Williams and Chicago Cubs manager David Ross were also in attendance at this sold-out event at The Pines Eatery and Spirits in Hazleton.