Southside Johnny keeps busy on the road

BMS talks with the New Jersey legend ahead of his show in Lowell

, Editor-in-Chief

Southside Johnny has made a career out of relentless touring. He and his band, The Asbury Jukes, have been delivering acclaimed live performances since the mid 70’s and are still going strong. On Saturday, they will return to Massachusetts for a performance at the Lowell Summer Music Series.

The band are celebrating the release of their new live album Men Without Women: Live 7-2-11, which was released last month. The album was recorded live at the Stone Pony in the band’s hometown of Asbury Park, New Jersey and features special guest Little Steven Van Zandt. Men Without Women is comprised of a track by track performance of Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul 1982 album of the same name, along with three classic Asbury Jukes bonus tracks featuring Van Zandt performing with the band.

With that in mind, we recently caught up with the New Jersey legend to discuss the band’s longevity, life on the road, new projects and more.

Boston Music Spotlight (BMS): You’ve been performing for a long time now – what keeps you going?

Southside Johnny (SJ): I have no idea but thank God I’m still going. I love to sing and as long as they let me do that I’ll keep singing and keep going.

BMS: With so much touring over the years, you’ve really built up a reputation as a true road warrior. Do you find it draining at all or do you still have that same love for the road?

SJ: Tough to answer that after spending eleven hours driving home from Maine through New England this past Sunday. As long as I can find a great place to eat breakfast, a decent newspaper to read, and I am able to look for birds or records along the way, I’m good. Especially if it’s somewhere I haven’t been before.

BMS: Many say that to truly appreciate Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, you need to experience a live performance. Do you agree? How are you able to bring that energy to the stage every night?

SJ: Well, the band has been playing great allowing us go anywhere we may want to go that particular night. Our fans who come to a lot of shows will tell you that every night is a different show and it’s true. We’ll do different songs, or different versions of the same song. The energy comes from the crowd. If it looks like we are having fun up there, it’s because we are.

BMS: You recently released a new live album, Men Without Women. Its a performance of Steven Van Zandt’s album of the same name and a project that has a long history. Tell us how this project came about, what made you want to start it up again and record it live.

SJ: I’ve always loved that record and those songs, some of which we had recorded for Hearts of Stone. Our braintrust was throwing ideas against the wall, and this one stuck. Then the work began in learning the songs and arrangements and adding musicians. Once we had Steven’s blessing, all I had to do was sing and remember all those words.

BMS: You recently formed the The Poor Fools. Tell us how this came about?

SJ: It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I found a couple of other Fools willing to take a chance and we decided to get together in a room with some acoustic guitars and some songs and have some fun playing music together. And it worked, so we took that experience to the stage; coming to a town near you.

BMS: Do you find that by working with both groups, its reinvigorated you in any way?

SJ: It’s made me tired but, yeah it’s invigorating because we’ve gotten to make some great music with some great people like Tommy Burns, GE Smith, Soozie Tyrell and then with the Jukes being in such a groove it’s been great. Confusing, but great.

BMS: It’s been a couple of years since your last studio release and we hear you are in the studio recording new material. How’s the recording going thus far?

SJ: Right now we are recording material with the Poor Fools and hoping to finish that album before we start the next Jukes record in the winter.

BMS: You have a great following here in New England. Is there anything in particular your enjoy during your downtime here?

SJ: I’ve been to some great Flea Markets looking for records up here. Hiking, kayaking… sleeping.

BMS: How is the tour going thus far and What can fans expect at your upcoming show in Lowell?

SJ:Last time we were in Lowell we had a great time and I’m sure Saturday Night is gonna be a night to remember… if only I could remember.

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes will perform at Boarding House Park in downtown Lowell on Saturday as part of the Lowell Summer Music Series. Tickets the show can be purchased through the Lowell Summer Music Series website in advance for $28 or $35 on the day of. BMS is also hosting a contest for free tickets. To enter, go here.

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