A Big Man Birthday Bash

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Jarod and Jake Clemons

On Friday evening, for Backstreets.com, I covered the Winter Bash: A Celebration of Clarence Clemons that took place at the Headliner in Neptune, New Jersey. Here’s the article I wrote for Backstreets, that ran on Saturday.

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 As the clock struck midnight at the Jersey Shore, turning Friday into Saturday and officially ushering Clarence Clemons’ birthday, a Clemons was on stage.

Not one, actually, but two.

At a little Jersey Shore bar in Neptune, New Jersey, right on the banks of the Shark River, Clarence’s son, Jarod, and his nephew, Jake, stepped to the front of the Headliner stage to honor their father and uncle.

Softly, acoustically, the two performed Clarence’s hit song, You’re a Friend of Mine, before a dedicated audience that came to Winter Bash! A Celebration of New Jersey’s Annual Clarence Clemons Day, the start of a three-day celebration of C’s life.

Clarence, as we all know, was a big man with a big heart and a big appetite for all things. Perhaps an acoustic song wasn’t the expected way for Jake to kick off his headlining set. Perhaps the audience expected him to pick up his saxophone and strike that classic Clemons pose we all know so well and do a sorrowful version of Jungleland.

But this was not a memorial but a rock ‘n roll birthday party that saw four acts – Mike Rocket, Jarod Clemons and The Late Nights, Bob Polding and Eddie Testa – precede Jake to the stage.

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Jarod Clemons, who was 13 when his father passed, has been hard at work laying the foundation for his own musical legacy. He recently released his debut single, On The Waves, which he played during his set at the Winter Bash, and will be appearing at various venues in New Jersey and Pennsylvania over the next month.

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In addition to that song, he and his band also played their brand of bluesy rock into Ramblewood Parkway, Why I Sing the Blues and the Hendrix classic, Hey Joe.

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Jake, 39, too, is now making his own way in the musical world. He’s tour supporting his new, second album, Eyes on the Horizon, and, well, waiting to see if an E Street tour is on the near-term docket. His musical chops were on full display during his set, though, as he played a number of guitars, the keyboards and, of course, his black-and-gold saxophone. Songs like Democracy, We, The People, Swan Song and the title track put these skills on full display.

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In past interviews, Jake has said he thinks about his uncle every time he performs. On the Headliner stage, he talked about discussing his uncle’s passing with Bruce, and what he should do next. The advice Bruce imparted to him was along the lines of “…if you carry life around the right way…you don’t lose people. You carry them with you.” Jake, in his living and his music, said he’s trying to keep that in perspective and continue moving forward.

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“All you need is a little hope,” Jake said, as he launched in a full-Headliner sing-along of that refrain with the crowd.

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Here’s a few other photos from the performance that I like, but ended up on the editing room floor.

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More to come about this event. There was a twist for me.

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2020

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3 thoughts on “A Big Man Birthday Bash

  1. Mark, really good images, thanks. My wife and I met Jared at the Wonder Bar, Dec. 22. Nice guy, my wife got a photo with him. Had me try the “Big Man Brew” –it’s good! We were watching a few groups headlined by John Eddie.

    • I was in AP earlier in that day with my boys. I think Bobby Mahoney played that night, right? Would have liked to have seen that one. I’ve been listening to John Eddie for 20 years.

  2. Pingback: Mirrorless, Mirrorless On The Wall | JerseyStyle Photography

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