Bruce Springsteen Cover Band Defends Donald Trump Inauguration Party
“I’ve been beaten down. I haven’t slept. I’ve been up all night,” says Will Forte, the founder of popular Bruce Springsteen cover group the B-Street Band. The 63-year-old musician tells Rolling Stone that when news broke that his band would play a Donald Trump inauguration party this month, he received a flood of emails excoriating the group.
“We kind of fell into this and never saw it coming,” he adds. “I’m only a small fry. I like publicity, but I didn’t want this kind of publicity. The last time we had this much publicity is when we almost played the Craigslist Killer’s wedding up in Boston.”
The group finds itself in the crosshairs of politics and music after announcing their appearance at the Garden State Presidential Inaugural Gala on January 19th in Washington, D.C.
“We’re a non-political band,” Forte insists. The B-Street Band have played dozen of shows for both political parties for decades, he says. They even appeared at the same gala for President Barack Obama in 2009 and 2013. “We’re hired to do things and we don’t look at what the repercussions are of playing an event at all,” Forte says. “We don’t even go into politics that deeply. The guys in the band are so easy-going, I don’t even know if they have any politics.” He lets us a deep laugh and sighs.
Formed in 1980, the B-Street Band plays more than 200 shows a year. On occasion, actual E Street Band members Steven Van Zandt, Clarence Clemons, Max Weinberg and Vini Lopez sit in with them. Speaking to Springsteen for a 2012 Rolling Stone feature, former Daily Show host Jon Stewart said, “The only band I think I’ve seen more than Bruce Springsteen is the Springsteen tribute band Backstreets,” referencing the tribute band’s former name.
Now, in between performances like “Coach Lennon’s Birthday Bruce Bash” and the “Steinert After Prom Fundraiser,” the B-Streeters are dealing with a public relations nightmare for agreeing to the Donald Trump gig (something, Forte adds, they are under contract to perform). And then there is the problem of the band’s image. The cover band members worry how they will appear performing the music of Springsteen, who has been…