Even though popular Bruce Springsteen cover group the B-Street Band have been playing shows for political parties on both sides for decades, this week they officially dropped out of playing the Garden State Presidential Inaugural Gala on Thursday. They had been scheduled to play since 2013.
For 63-year-old musician and cover band founder Will Forte, the decision had nothing to do with it being Donald Trump’s inauguration. He told Rolling Stone:
The guys in the band are so easy-going, I don’t even know if they have any politics.
But when the news broke, Forte found himself buried under thousands of emails and public reactions to their participation. Says Forte:
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.
Then there was the input from key figures for the B-Street Band: Springsteen and the E-Street Band. Springsteen told Channel 4 in Britain that he saw Trump as a “flagrant, toxic narcissist” with “simply no sense of decency”. Then, founding group member and bassist Garry Tallent tweeted in response to the E-Street Band’s scheduled appearance:
Please tell me this is more fake news. Or at least a joke. https://t.co/I8pyvHKPsy— Garry Tallent (@gwtallent) January 12, 2017
…And Steven Van Zandt, the group’s guitarist, weighed in:
Nice guys. Met them. I wouldn't say right or wrong. Up to them. But it's naive to think one can separate Art and Politics. Art IS Politics. https://t.co/yoAtWruY9B— Stevie Van Zandt (@StevieVanZandt) January 14, 2017
For a cover band that had been playing gigs mostly in the realm of “Steinert After Prom Fundraiser,” that was enough to call the inauguration appearance off. Forte explains:
We had to make it known that we didn’t want to seem disrespectful, in any way, shape or form, to Bruce and his music and his band. I don’t want to upset them. We owe everything to him and our gratitude and respect to the band is imperative above all else. It became clear to us that this wasn’t working and we just had to do what we thought was the right thing to do and that was to pull out.
In the end, the group’s decision demonstrates their allegiance to Springsteen and only Springsteen:
C’mon, we’re a bar band. It’s got nothing to do with politics whatsoever. I’m worn out. The band’s worn out. Everybody loves to have their 15 minutes of fame, but maybe not this way.