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A Prisoner of Rock and Roll

 

 

 

In August of 1975 in a little known club called the Bottom Line near Greenwich Village, Bruce Springsteen put on a show that landed him on the cover of Time and Newsweek.  It was an historic and possibly the most famous performance he ever gave.

 

February 27th 1999, a young guy out of Rockland County, New York gave us a glimpse behind that 24 year old curtain and showed the full house at New York City's now legendary Rock club what it must of been like that night.  Joe D'Urso in his Bottom Line debut, gave an historic performance of his own and left the audience hoarse, drenched and gasping for air.

In the opening slot for long-time Springsteen crony Joe Grushecky, D'Urso brought the crowd to it's feet with a show that was at times passionate, touching, heart wrenching and ultimately unsurpassed.  Fighting what he later admitted to, as some nasty end-of-winter flu, Joe and his band Stone Caravan stole the show.  It was a homecoming that featured his own brand of Roots rock and roll, a spontaneous standing ovation and that rarest animals; an opening act being returned to the stage for an encore.  

 

To the chants of "One more song, One more song", Joe and the band came back out and launched into a runaway-train version of 'Hippy Hippy Shake'.  He expended every ounce of energy and more Saturday night and the crowd rewarded him with the kind of response reserved for the people Joe lists as his musical influences.  Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Harry Chapin, they've all graced that hallowed stage and Joe D'Urso and Stone Caravan did nothing to diminish the echoes of those New York City icons.

Joe on stage at The Bottom Line

 

At one point about halfway through his second show of the night he stepped to the microphone and reminisced about his days as a struggling songwriter in Greenwich Village......"I used to go to Open Mic nights on Mondays over in the Village and this was the goal.  It was all we talked about over in MacDougal Street getting to the Bottom Line.  I remember sitting right there [pointing to the foot of centre stage] and watching Suzanne Vega, I never would have imagined this......Thanks".  After which he proceeded to tear the house down with a 7 or 8 minute version of 'Noisy Guitars'.  This is his classic showstopper.  A song Joe wrote as a warning not to let life make you feel old.

 

As I watched the extended ending, watched Joe venture out onto the tables furiously strumming his guitar over his head watched the whole room on its feet thundering their approval, I couldn't help but feel alive with the spirit of The Bottom Line's 25th anniversary.  To paraphrase another famous performer, I was just a prisoner of rock and roll, and mister; there's a new Warden in town.  His name is Joe D'Urso.

 

Gord