New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

For great Jersey music and much more, tune into our radio station at

Gary U.S. Bonds

By Gary Wien

It's been twenty years since Gary U.S. Bonds has recorded a new studio album, but he's logged hundreds of live shows around the world in that time. Bonds, one of the few performers to have hit records in both the '60s and '80s, is quietly celebrating five decades as a recording artist. Only this time, Bonds didn't have to go very far to record.

"I just went downstairs," laughs Gary U.S. Bonds. "That was pretty cool. I got me some stuff in here and I decided to toy around with it for a while. And so we just came down here and started hacking around and stuff until it was like, 'Hey, this is not too bad. Let's go make some more songs so we can finish the album.'"

A little over two years ago Bonds says he began setting up a digital recording studio in his basement with his daughter, Laurie. They put in the latest equipment and moved furniture around to get the best possible sound setup.

The result became, Back In 20, which will be released on M.C. Records on June 1st. Gary will be holding a CD release party at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park on May 30th and two more release parties at B.B. King's Blues Club in New York City on June 17th and 18th.

Back In 20 includes several guest stars lending their support. Bruce Springsteen plays guitar and adds backing vocals on “Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks,” which also showcases Southside Johnny on harmonica. Johnny also sings co-lead vocal and plays harp on the blues classic, “Fannie Mae” and adds his harp to the song “Take Me Back.” Legendary former Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickey Betts lends his talents to two tracks: “She Just Wants to Dance” and “Bitch/Dumb Ass,” which also features a blistering duet by Bonds and Phoebe Snow. Other cover tunes on the new CD include Otis Redding’s “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember,” Keb Mo’s “She Just Wants to Dance” and “Every Time I Roll the Dice,” a song that’s been previously recorded by Delbert McClinton. The rest of the songs are originals, written primarily by Gary, his musical director Mark Leimbach, and his daughter, Laurie “Li’l Mama” Anderson, who also co-produced the album.

Bonds met Bruce Springsteen when the artist jumped on stage with him during a show in New Jersey in the late '70s. Springsteen was unknown to Bonds, but his band and the crowd certainly knew who he was. The meeting led to a friendship which brought Gary back to the studio for the records Dedication and On The Line. ?Both were produced in the early '80s by Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt and led Bonds back on to the charts.

"I met Dickey Betts on the golf course," said Bonds. "I saw him at a tournament and asked if he'd be interested in doing something on the album with me and he said yeah. I just picked a couple of songs because it's a whole different kind of music that I do, but I thought he's such a hell of a guitarist that I think he'd fit on anything. ?Which he did. I said, 'Dickie work with them, do some magic' and he was cool. And Phoebe (Snow), I've always wanted to work with because she's such a sweet lady."

The record has a bit of a bluesier feel to it. "It's stuff I was singing down in Norfolk before I ever had a record out," explains Bonds. "We used to sing those songs at little clubs when I was making 5-10 dollars a night to sing. It'd be "Fannie Mae" and stuff by Otis and James Brown. Whatever gets you through the night."

Southside Johnny, who plays on "Fannie Mae" (a song he's recorded himself) is one of the Jersey Shore artists that have become part of the Gary U.S. Bonds inner circle. He has frequently jumped on stage with Gary for a song or two at clubs like the Stone Pony. In fact, the Stone Pony has sort of become the home away from home for Bonds.

"It's (the Stone Pony) probably one of the last real rock and roll joints in the world," said Bonds. "It's too bad it's gonna go the way of most of the others. But as long as it's there, I'm gonna keep rockin' in it man. Cause it's a real 'from the heart' kind of place. You go there and can do whatever you want as long as it's respectable and they're gonna love it because they know you're there to rock."

About two years ago, Gary U.S. Bonds was inducted into the Norfolk Walk Of Fame. Gary (born Gary Anderson) moved to Norfolk from Jacksonville, Florida when he was young and stayed there until his music career took off.

"It's a weird town," explains Bonds. "It's a Navy town, so there's a lot of transit... a lot of movement. People are there for a minute and then they're gone. So, you don't get to keep a lot of love in towns that are like that. There were a few connections there but not enough to hold me there."

Bonds jokes that the last time he was in Norfolk, the people wanted to either hang him or put him in jail. Forty years later, they were honoring him as one of the inaugural inductees with other artists like Pearl Bailey, Ella Fitzgerald and Bruce Hornsby.

He still remembers the day when he first heard "New Orleans"- his debut song which became a top 10 hit in 1960. That was not only the first time he would hear himself on the radio, it was the first time he would hear the name "Gary U.S. Bonds". That name was created by his manager without ever letting Gary know about it.

"So when the guy said, 'We've got a new record coming out, it's a young man from our town right here. ?Let's hear it for homeboy Gary U.S. Bonds'?- I'm like what the hell is that. Somebody stole my crap already man.

I didn't want to be called Gary U.S. Bonds - you might as well call me Alice! But after that first check everything was fine. It's not such a bad name after all!"

For more by this author, click here

NJSO presents 2019 Winter Festival, 'Music Speaks'
(NEWARK, NJ) -- A trio of renowned guest artists with distinct musical voices—pianists Emanuel Ax and Daniil Trifonov and soprano Dawn Upshaw—headline the NJSO’s Winter Festival, “Music Speaks,” in January 2019. The Orchestra’s signature artistic event takes place across three weekends, January 10–27, in six New Jersey venues.
RVCC Chorale to Perform Annual Holiday Concert on December 8th
(BRANCHBURG, NJ) --The RVCC Chorale will give its annual holiday concert on Saturday, December 8 at 8:00pm in the Welpe Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College’s Branchburg campus. The program will feature Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata, Das Neugeborne Kindelein, as well as a cappella pieces from by Sergei Rachmaninov, Zoltan Kodaly and Giuseppe Verdi. The program also will include an audience singalong of traditional carols.
Classic Stones Live! The Complete Rolling Stones Tribute Show Comes To SOPAC
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- The Rolling Stones, the greatest Blues band of all time, couldn’t make it to SOPAC on their 2018 tour. Instead, the acclaimed tribute band Classic Stones Live! makes an appearance on the SOPAC stage December 15 at 8:00pm for those who like to hear their Rolling Stones hits live.
Tony Trischka Presents "Of a Winter's Night" at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Of a Winter’s Night is Tony Trischka's acoustic celebration of the holiday season. Based on his CD release of the same name, this concert features Trischka’s considerable melodic inventiveness on a wide variety of seasonal tunes. He turns his inventiveness loose on bluegrass and Americana music for the holidays. This one of a kind concert will take place at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship on Saturday, December 8 at 7:30pm.
Idle Wave To Hold Record Release Party At Asbury Park Brewery
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Pop-punks Idle Wave will celebrate the release of their self-titled EP on Saturday, December 1st at Asbury Park Brewery.  The record release show also includes performances by Skyeline, Roderick, and Pollyanna.

"An Amazing Musical Genius!" Brian Wilson LIVE! at the State Theatre
In the music room in the back of our house, there’s an electric bass and amp, two acoustic guitars, a microphone and PA speakers, several pieces of music recording equipment, and a bookcase filled with books on music, not to mention a slew of assorted music memorabilia. But, perhaps, one of the most highly prized items in the room is hanging directly above the piano next to the college music diplomas.
Jazz Saxophonist Don Braden LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s a breezy day for a new installment of the Jazz On a Sunday Afternoon concert series at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Sunday Oct. 27, 2018 afternoon. Today’s special 3pm performance is entitled Earth, Wind and Wonder and is presented by jazz saxophonist Don Braden.
Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge LIVE! at The Strand, Lakewood
The stars are out this Saturday Oct. 26, 2018 evening in Lakewood, NJ for a “Golden Oldies” concert featuring Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge!
PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival
Drummer, leader, and composer Terri Lyne Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz for her album “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.” Now, she brings her interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” to the TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 11, 2018, as part of a program called “Jazz Vinyl Revisited.” Producer Susan Wallner talks to Carrington about her connections to the jazz greats Clark Terry and Max Roach; her newest project, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; and why she thinks drummers make natural leaders.
Sha Na Na LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
The audience is streaming into the Newton Theatre auditorium in Newton, NJ this Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 for a live concert starring Sha Na Na!

Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm


PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

View all events

New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 |

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.