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Outside The Box Hits Upon Winning Formula

By Gary Wien

(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- House bands at The Stone Pony are part of a pretty interesting history. Some have gone on to get major label record deals or regularly jammed with the Jersey Shore's top musicians or even wound up performing stadium shows themselves, but whoever holds the title knows they are part of something special. Outside The Box, the current placeholder, is not only building upon the club's history, but finding new ways to continue the story. And on Wednesday, August 17, another chapter was born...

I arrived at the Pony just as the band was playing their first song. Everywhere I looked I saw people, but largely unfamiliar faces. This was not the typical Wednesday night crowd comprised of Asbury Park regulars. These were people hoping to see a little of that Stone Pony magic. Outside The Box was continuing their trend of playing a complete album side from one of the albums that first inspired them as musicians and tonight's choice was a good one: "The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle" by Bruce Springsteen.

Now, it's easy to say people came hoping to catch a glimpse of Mr. Springsteen, but this was the first show in Asbury Park where I can honestly say I don't think that was the case. These people came to HEAR Bruce's music. They didn't scream "Bruuuuucccceee!" throughout the night and I'd bet few people, if any, expected Springsteen to show. These were his fans, but it was the idea of hearing this wonderful album performed from start to end that brought them out to the club.

Sometimes I forget just how amazing this album is when performed live. This might have been Bruce's zenith when it comes to musical creativity. The songs combine the power of rock and roll with the smooth stylings of jazz. Performed live, the songs practically beg for improvisation. Thankfully, OTB embraced the songs and chose to infuse their own stamp on the tunes rather than attempt to play them note for note.

As a fan of the E Street Band, the show also provided a glimpse of what the music might sound like in the post Clarence Clemons era. It was hard not to think of the Big Man when it was time for the sax to take over. Nevertheless, the band did a stellar job with such classic numbers as "Incident on 57th Street", "Rosalita", and "Kitty's Back". As a bonus, the band not only played the complete album, but performed "Thundercrack" with Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez (the original E Street drummer) helping out on vocals.

OTB has definitely found an interesting angle for themselves with the perfect album side series. While many bands trying something like this would be walking a fine line of being known solely as a cover band, I think it works for Outside The Box. The band's original tunes stem from an unabashed love of 70s rock and roll. In fact, there's almost a sense that OTB songs are what Graham Parker would have written had he lived along the Shore. When the originals are played before and after these classic albums, they fit in perfectly. Instead of being a cover band inserting their own songs, the show actually makes their originals stand out.

OTB deserves full credit for making this night work. They not only work with a good publicist who made sure the press was aware of the show, but did some national promotion on E Street Radio (Sirius). When hundreds of people turn out on a Wednesday night, it dispels the idea that nobody will go to shows anymore. Their success proves that bands may have to work a bit harder at promoting shows these days, but people will come out... even on a Wednesday.

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Event calendar
Sunday, May 19, 2019


Believe: A Fundraiser Benefit for Marilyn's Place @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 4:00pm

Tash Sultana @ The Stone Pony Summer Stage, Asbury Park - 6:00pm

Will Martin Sings Dean Martin @ Avenel Performing Arts Center, Avenel - 3:00pm

MICHAEL BOLTON @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

Band Together for Veterans @ Bar Anticipation, Lake Como - 1:00pm

ART OF THE DOUBLE CONCERTO - NEW JERSEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 3:00pm

Carmina Burana New Jersey Youth Symphony 40th Anniversary Concert @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 3:00pm

Derek Bermel's Mango Suite @ Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall, Princeton - 4:00pm

Laurie Berkner, Solo @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 3:00pm

Grace Morrison at Riverside!! @ Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme, Succasunna - 4:00pm

The Bronx Wanderers @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 5:00pm and 8:00pm


Frost/Nixon @ Pax Amicus Castle Theatre, Budd Lake - 2:00pm

Surfing My DNA @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 2:00pm

Camelot @ Algonquin Arts Theatre, Manasquan - 3:00pm

She Loves Me! @ The Summit Playhouse, Summit - 2:00pm

Morir Sonyando @ Passage Theatre Company, Trenton - 3:00pm

Rapunzel @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 1:30pm and 3:30pm

MET Encore: Dialogues des Carmelites @ Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 1:00pm


Roxey Ballet Presents Cinderella @ The College Of New Jersey’s Kendall Main Stage Theater, Ewing - 2:00pm

Kick Dance Studios presents I LOVE the 90s @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 1:00pm


THE SLEEPING BEAUTY @ Brook Arts Center, Bound Brook - 2:00pm

Double Dare Live @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 1:00pm and 7:00pm


Transform Your Thoughts & Heal Yourself Spiritually @ 10 Colonial Court, Hainesport, NJ 08036, Hainesport - 1:30pm

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