Two things might surprise you if you go to see Jake Clemons Friday at the Cedar Cultural Center.
- Clemons, a saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, will be playing mostly guitar.
- Although Clemons lives in Virginia, he likely will have lots of relatives at the gig.
“I’ve probably got like 100 cousins in Minnesota. Half of my family is between Minnesota and North Dakota,” said the musician who took his uncle Clarence’s spot in the E Street Band. “My grandparents are from Cavalier, N.D. So I used to spend my summers — three months a year — working on their farm. Those are my people.”
Did he get to see any concerts during those days?
“No, I was working 80 hours a week, baling hay and feeding cattle and stuff. There wasn’t a lot of time for rock ’n’ roll.”
With his eponymous band, Clemons is the frontman. “I’m a songwriter. That’s my identity,” he said. “It’s primarily original music. We all sing. I sing lead.”
He said the band, which will open for rebounding New York rock ’n’ soul man Garland Jeffreys, offers “a rock-driven sound with a lot of influences from the ’60s to the present. We’re heavily engaged in our music, and for me, it’s important to engage the audience in the same way — make some sincere, honest connection.”
The quintet — which includes bassist Jason Crowgey, Clemons’ pal since age 13 — has been together since 2010. But they haven’t played very many gigs because Clemons was recruited in 2012 to join the E Street Band along with an expanded horn section and backup singers.
With Clemons and Max Weinberg’s son Jay occasionally sitting in on drums, has the group morphed into E Street Band: The Next Generation?
“I have no thoughts of that in terms of reality,” the sax man said. “With [the late E Streeter] Danny Federici’s son playing organ and Jay playing drums, I used to make teasing jokes about the Sesam-E Street Band. The incarnation [now] is what it’s supposed to be. One thing that’s always impressed me about Mr. Springsteen and that band is its ability to evolve and continue to grow.”
Close to his uncle
Clemons, 33, started on piano at the insistence of his father, a Marine Corps band director who was Clarence’s younger brother. After seeing his uncle play with Springsteen, Jake attended the Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts to study jazz performance. At 16, he got his first paying gig — alongside Clarence at President Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration. Since then, Jake has graduated to playing with Eddie Vedder, Glen Hansard, the Roots and Will Smith.
Since joining the E Street Band, Clemons has been dubbed “Little Big Man” by Springsteen fans because the Boss referred to Clarence as “the Big Man.”
“Everyone is so sincere and full of kindness,” Clemons said of Springsteen followers. “I celebrate all those things — including nicknames.”
Clemons was very close to Uncle Clarence. Jake joined him often on Springsteen’s Magic Tour in 2007-08 when Clarence was in dubious health; he died in 2011 of complications from a stroke.
“He was a daddy and a brother and a comrade. We spent a lot of time together. He always believed in me, he was always invested in me. We spoke on the phone all the time,” Jake said. “One of the toughest elements for me as far as Clarence was concerned, he’d be onstage and then at the hotel, he and I would sit on the bed and chat for hours. That’s hard now.”
Starting in January, the E Street Band is headed to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Will there be a new Springsteen album next year?
Clemons avoided a direct answer: “That man is capable of enormous amounts of creativity. He’s recorded probably 100 years’ worth of music. We’ll see what he has. The band’s always working and focused on the moment. I have two people to answer to — the man upstairs and the Boss.”
But he’s squeezing in a few gigs with his own band — August marked their first show in two years — as well as the release of his second EP.
“It’s called ‘Embracing Light’ It’s about hope in the present and leaving the past behind. It uses horns and it’s got an overdriven rock ’n’ roll feel to it. It has my heavier influences, somewhere between classic American rock and Brit rock.”
Clemons has had the Minneapolis gig circled on his itinerary for two reasons.
“I’m a huge fan of Garland Jeffreys,” he said. “It’s a cool thing to be on the same bill with him. It’s a skipping stone in the ponds to the legends.”
The other reason?
“I’m anxious to get in front of Minnesota Nice.”
All photography below by Kim Reed.
Veteran rocker Garland Jeffreys and his band brought their music to the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis last Friday night, riding the wave of success from their recent Truth Serum album.
Jeffreys, best known in the past for classics like "R.O.C.K","Wild in the Streets", "Ghost Writer" and his cover of "96 Tears", led his band through much of Truth Serum and continued rock tradition by literally bringing his music to the masses by jumping off the stage to sing amidst the crowd on at least three occasions. Not band for a 70 year old! Surprise of the evening was opener Jake Clemons and his band with a rousing set of originals.
Note: Blogness correspondent Kim Tschida Petters took in the Jake Clemons/Garland Jeffreys show in Minneapolis Nov. 15, and was nice enough to file this report.
“Hail Hail Rock and Roll” seemed to be the mantra Friday night at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis: a double bill with Jake Clemons opening for Garland Jeffreys.
I was excited to see Jake perform songs from his new EP, “It’s On.” As he toggled among the guitar, the saxophone and the keyboard I was happy to see a young artist and his band making their way. The songs are powerful and engaging and his stage presence welcomes you.
I couldn’t help but think what it must be like going from a stage that faces 60,000 people who scream at your moves to a room of maybe 200 people who are sitting in folding chairs as though they are watching a movie. Perhaps this is what impressed me the most – Jake and his band still gave us all of their energy. They were excited and that was obvious.
The alt/rock songs are strong and a bit edgier when performed live, and this 45-minute set was the perfect rock sneak peak into what is to come from Clemons. Not to mention the perfect opening to a night with Garland Jeffreys.
From the moment Jeffreys, the 69-year-old NY-based rocker, stepped on stage he commanded and delivered his song, and his anthem. Styled in black pants and a black sequined shirt, Jeffreys played songs from his new album, “Truth Serum,” as well as favorites from his long and prolific career.
His energy is inspiring and his voice is mesmerizing and strong. As he sang “I used to be a contortionist” and moved about the stage, I had to wonder if it might be true. He jumps into the audience, engaging them as he goes along. Then back to the stage for more.
Garland’s star began to rise after the release of the single “Wild In The Streets” and its follow up album, “Ghost Writer.” Although there have been no major hits for him, he has continued to release critically acclaimed records like “American Boy & Girl” and “One Eyed Jack.” At the Cedar he performed like a star, playing many songs from his album “Escape Artist.”
I must confess I’m rather new to the music of Garland Jeffreys but knew somehow that a transformation was about to take place. That somehow in that room of 200 people and a rock and roll band – I became the lucky one. The new one in the know. “Rock and Roll saved my life and saved my soul!” Jeffreys belts out – that is what this night is about as he conveys tales of race, of growing up in New York, and his long friendship with Lou Reed.
Tireless and energized, he brings the streets of New York into this Minneapolis night. There is no refrain as he delivers “Coney Island Winter,” “Modern Lovers” and “Mystery Kids.” Not to mention the power of “‘Til John Lee Hooker Calls Me.”
Something magical happens when an artist like Jeffreys performs and “Rock and Roll Music!” transforms.
For more on Garland Jeffrey’s tour, visit garlandjeffreys.com. For info on Jake Clemons’ appearances and new EP, visit jakeclemons.com.
& His Band (Jason Crowgey/Brett Mayer/Matt Musty/Michael Westbrook)
- Love'll Never Change
- Hold Tight
- All I Need
- Fear & Love
- Fool In Love
- You Must Be Crazy
- Song For Hope
- Where Ever You Are
Jake Clemons Live at The Cedar Cultural Center on 2013-11-15 (November 15, 2013):
Jake Clemons Live at The 7th St. Entry/First Ave. on 2014-03-29 (March 29, 2014):
& His Band (Mark Bosch/Tom Curiano/Gray Reinhard/Brian Stanley)
- Coney Island Winter
- 35 Millimeter Dreams
- I'm Alive
- I May Not Be Your Kind
- Any Rain
- It's What I Am
- Is This The Real World
- The Contortionist
- 'Til John Lee Hooker Calls Me
- Mystery Kids
- Modern Lovers
- Hail Hail Rock 'N' Roll
- 96 Tears
A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
“Sound City.” Dave Grohl’s engrossing documentary about buying the original Neve sound board from Sound City music studio in Van Nuys, Calif. This board dates back to Buckingham/Nicks before Fleetwood Mac, and recorded many hit albums including Nirvana’s masterpiece, “Nevermind.” That album is credited with basically saving Sound City from bankruptcy. Great music and interviews throughout, highly entertaining.
Fountains of Wayne, First Avenue. Power pop from three guys who look just like schlubby surbuban dads blissfully paired with a lead guitarist who fits every stereotype of the rock star look to the point you think he’s just jamming with FOW until Aerosmith’s jet picks him up. “Closer Radiation Vibe” was a criminally underappreciated blast.
“Back to Forever,” Lissie. I grew up across the Big Muddy from this Rock Island, Ill., woman. Kicked out of her high school, she bailed for California and her rise is looking meteoric now. Her voice channels Stevie Nicks, and live Lissie has always mentioned that Minneapolisis one of her favorite towns to play. She performs Saturday at the Skyway Theatre.
Jason Wirtz, St. Paul
To contribute: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary Clark Jr., First Avenue. Offering several shades of blues, rock, pop and soul, he asserted himself as a true guitar hero in his 110-minute Twin Cities debut. Not only is he a fierce guitarist but he’s an underrated vocalist with grit and range.
Bob Dylan, “Like a Rolling Stone” video. Some 48 years after its release, this Dylan classic has received an inspired video treatment featuring montages from 16 different channels of simulated TV programming, starring, among others, rapper Danny Brown, comic Marc Naron, the guys from TV’s “Pawn Stars” and Dylan himself mouthing the lyrics. So just about every time you watch it at bobdylan.com, you see a different version. How does it feel to watch it over and over?
Garland Jeffreys and Jake Clemons, the Cedar. The quintessential New York rocker, Jeffreys found the right tone — whether rocking with his band (featuring ace guitarist Mark Bosch), singing about racism and urban reality, and talking about his pal since their days at Syracuse University, Lou Reed. Opener Clemons was a little Bono, a little Bruce and a little Big Man — a rocker with personality and potential.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune
Original Article: http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/music/232929191.html
Legendary NYC singer-songwriter, performer and recording artist, Garland Jeffreys and his Band will "R.O.C.K., rock" the roof off The Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis on Friday, November 15, 2013.Read More