Festival headliner Southside Johnny going with the flow


N—SouthsideJohnnyThis Saturday, the Newport Yachting Center will be the site of a ten-hour homage to blues and BBQ, and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes will he headlining a line-up that spans the generations from a teenager breaking into the scene to true blues legends.
The James Cotton Blues Band, Matt “Guitar” Murphy and Southside Johnny will be performing at the 2nd Annual Newport Blues & BBQ Festival from noon to 10 p.m. along with Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters, Quinn Sullivan, Rick Russell and the Cadillac Horns and The Big Cat Blues Band.
The Jersey Shore band, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, has been popular since they began recording hits like “Having a Party” and “Sweeter Than Honey” in the mid-1970s. They emerged from the same Asbury Park music scene as Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band—and they have recorded and performed with Springsteen and other E Streeters on many occasions over the years. East Bay Life caught up with Southside Johnny while he was traveling the backroads of Virginia en route to shows in Culpepper and Alexandria before heading north for their Newport date.
Johnny’s genuine and hearty laugh is instantly contagious, and one thing becomes instantly clear: this is a man who enjoys what he’s doing. Primarily touring the East Coast on weekends, from Portland to the Carolinas, allows these music veterans to go home to New York and New Jersey between shows. They’re still active in the studio as well, though Johnny admits to not collaborating with other artists and the studio as often as on stage, explaining “in the studio, they have their way of doing things and I have mine.” He recently released an all-acoustic album, and is working on another one with the Jukes.
His way of doing things is clearly laid back—for one thing, he does not perform onstage with a set list. “I like to play whatever, keep it fun. And I have a great band that’s used to getting thrown curveballs,” Johnny says. “We’re not putting on a show, we’re just making music. It may go in any direction. Sometimes we’ll just let the audience decide,” he laughs. “If they’re loud enough.” Ultimately, for Southside Johnny, it’s about the music, and having fun. “We’re not pretending to be sex symbols or geniuses,” he says. “We’re musicians. Come to see us play, and have a great time.”
Tickets are available at www.newportwaterfrontevents.com; by calling 800/745-3000 or at the Newport Yachting Center Box Office.

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