After five years away, Bruce Springsteen returned home to LIGHT OF DAY WINTERFEST last night in grand style to help “The Festival That Bruce Built” celebrate its 20th anniversary with his 12th surprise guest performance during Bob’s Birthday Bash, the six-hour “Main Event” of the 10-day festival he has brought to worldwide prominence in the global battle to defeat Parkinson’s Disease and related illnesses through the awesome power of music.
An elated audience at the sold-out Paramount Theater here watched as Springsteen made a trio of on-stage appearances – in order, with Jesse Malin, Willie Nile, and finally, longtime collaborators Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers – to help the Light of Day Foundation push its two-decade fundraising tally toward its $6 million goal by festival’s end after this weekend.
Bob’s Birthday Bash is named after the organization’s co-founder and inspiration, artist manager and music industry veteran Bob Benjamin, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1996, and continues to fight not only his personal health struggles, but on behalf of those afflicted around the world on behalf of the Light of Day Foundation. Now wheelchair-bound, Benjamin joined Springsteen and the other participants on stage at the end of the evening for the traditional birthday cake presentation as the musicians and audience sang “Happy Birthday.”
Dressed in black jeans, a plaid checkered shirt and newsboy cap, Springsteen first appeared with Malin to duet on “Broken Radio” and add guitar to “Meet Me at the End of the World” from Malin’s new album, Sunset Kids. Springsteen returned to join Light of Day stalwart Willie Nile on “One Guitar,” the Nile-penned number that has become the unofficial anthem of the annual celebration.
Springsteen returned to cap off the celebration for an explosive 70-minute set with Pittsburgh rocker Grushecky and his band, alternating between Grushecky and Springsteen numbers in a 10-song set that included Boss favorites “The Promised Land,” “Atlantic City,” “Darkness on the Edge of Town” and traditionally, “Light of Day.” The latter was a signal for all of the evening’s performers to fill the stage and become an impromptu chorus.
Though “Light of Day” usually closes Bob’s Birthday Bash, Springsteen had one more song to offer. He switched to acoustic guitar and serenaded Benjamin on a solo rendition of “Thunder Road.”
“Thank you, Bob,” said Springsteen. “We love you.”
Also performing at Bob’s Birthday Bash were Joe D’Urso & Stone Caravan, James Maddock, The Weeklings, Dramarama, and Boccigalupe & The Bad Boys, with acoustic turns by Danielia Cotton, Ben Arnold, former Springsteen drummer Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez, Jill Hennessy, Williams Honor, Lisa Bouchelle, Matt Jaffe, Adam Ezra, Brian Dunne and Miss Emily.
Tickets for remaining LIGHT OF DAY WINTERFEST 2020: THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY events are on sale through www.ticketmaster.com,Ticketmaster charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000, and all Ticketmaster outlets. Tickets for all events at House of Independents and the Saint are available through TicketWeb and at the venues’ websites. Tickets for McLoone’s Supper Club events are available at www.timmcloonessupperclub.com.
A wide variety of combination ticket packages – as well as single tickets to each show – are available. Additional ticket info can be found at the official Light of Day website: www.lightofday.org and Facebook page: www.facebook.com/LOD2000.
Here are the remaining LIGHT OF DAY WINTERFEST 2020: THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY events:
Monday, JAN 20
GOODBYE BRUNCH, McLoone’s Supper Club, All Ages, 10a-2:30p.
Saturday JAN 25
LOD AFTERFEST: STEVE FORBERT & THE NEW RENDITIONS – House of Independents, Doors 2 p.m.; Show 2:50 p.m., $25/$60 VIP.
ABOUT THE LIGHT OF DAY FOUNDATION
The Light of Day Foundation, Inc., utilizes the awesome power of music to raise money and awareness in its continuing battle to defeat Parkinson’s disease and related neuro-degenerative diseases, specifically Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), within our lifetime. The Foundation’s mission is to fund research into possible cures, improved treatments and support for patients who suffer from those diseases, their families and their caregivers to help improve their quality of life. Gifts to the Light of Day Foundation, Inc. are tax-deductible to the full extent of the Internal Revenue Code. The Light of Day Foundation, Inc. is designated by the IRS as a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) organization. The Light of Day Foundation, Inc.'s Federal ID # is 20-1560386. Light of Day - the concerts and the organization - grew from a birthday party and fund-raiser held in 1998 at the Downtown Cafe in Red Bank to celebrate the 40th birthday of artist manager and music industry veteran Bob Benjamin, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1996.