“Just a job to us”: Blood money apparently trumped integrity until the public found out, but the B Street Band ultimately does the right thing and deserves credit for doing so.
By Uncle Blurt
What took you so long, guys?
Bruce Springsteen tribute band the B Street Band‘ has bowed out of a scheduled appearance at this week’s Garden State Presidential Inaugural Gala following an outcry from Springsteen fans rightly claiming that to perform in honor of Donald Trump would be an affront both to Springsteen’s public statements denouncing the President-elect and to his well-documented social stances.
Deluged by the media for commentary, B Street Band frontman Will Forte told Rolling Stone, “All this stuff made it clear to us that this event is not worth it. It’s just a job to us. We’re just trying to hold up a contract. We’re not trying to prove anything. We’re just a fun band!”
“Fun band” or not, it would appear that the B Streeters were having a dandy time up until this morning, when the shit hit the fan. The backstory is that the group had performed the event in 2009 and 2013, subsequently signing up well in advance for the 2017 bash – understandable; and of course at that time, no one could foresee Trump becoming the man whose looming presidency would be the focus of the Jersey celebration. But hey – its been over TWO MONTHS since the winner of the election was announced, and thus the B Street Band has been on notice for two months who they would be shilling, er, playing for in January; it’s not like they suddenly woke up today from a deep slumber to the news. Not to mention the fact that Springsteen made his feelings about Trump known quite some time ago.
Hey Will Forte, you can talk about contracts all you want, but get real, bro. There’s such a thing as integrity, too. Your band had full intentions of getting paid for performing at the Trump event until you got busted by the fans.
Forte further advised Springsteen site Backstreets, clearly trying to cover his ass, in a public statement. Note the emphasis word “solely.”
With deepest apologies to our fans and the New Jersey Inaugural Ball committee, the B Street Band is withdrawing from performing at this year’s inauguration Gala.
Our decision is based SOLELY on the respect and gratitude we have for Bruce and the E Street Band.
Bruce’s music has been the foundation of our livelihood. The B Street Band would not exist without the talents of Bruce and our E Street brothers.
We are most grateful to these rock legends and look forward to many more years of emulating and performing the Forever Music, of Bruce Springsteen.
Now, just to be fair, Forte offered some less-rehearsed statements to the NY Times last week, although at the time he seemed so caught on the defensive that he wanted to promote the notion that his band was suddenly under the microscope because so many other artists were either declining to play for Trump or were pulling out under pressure. He also floated the concept of “honoring commitments,” which in his group’s case, would have been FINANCIAL commitments, wholly separate from any ethical ones.
Well, that’s why you call it “ethics” – a lot of folks over the years have chosen to face legalities of varying severity (for the B Streeters, a potential breach-of-contract suit, one supposes) rather than compromise their principles. That’s something one might reasonably expect of Springsteen himself.
In fact; “principles” is partly what Springsteen’s career was built upon. Largely, even. Clearly, for an act like the B Street Band, it’s easier and more convenient to talk the talk (i.e., play “Born To Run” and all those other songs night after night to fist-pumping crowds hungry for their favorite Boss numbers) than to walk the walk.
With that all said – and off my chest, because I’ve been a Springsteen fan since the early ’70s, and I suspect Forte has been, too, so in another reality, he might be the one writing this editorial about me had I taken up music as a career – let’s all agree that this is a most fucked up situation and everyone can learn a lot from it. Starting with humility, and continuing with forgiveness. Because people screw up. Speaking personally, I will be first in line if the B Street Band comes to town, because I want to hear the songs in any context they are offered. And I feel like they ultimately recognized they’d made a misstep, and they don’t deserve to take a financial hit (in the form of boycotts or cancelled bookings) because they opted for a very public apology that must have left everyone in their camp deeply embarrassed.
That doesn’t mean I won’t go up to Forte and engage him, even challenge him, on all this (no doubt he’ll be very, very sick of hearing about it by then). But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, because that’s probably what Bruce would do, too. Everyone’s human. Like I said, everyone screws up. Lord knows I have plenty of times over the years.