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John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band LIVE! on the AC Boardwalk


By Spotlight Central, Photos by Love Imagery

originally published: 07/10/2024

John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band LIVE! on the AC Boardwalk

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of the movie, Eddie and the Cruisers, the real-life musicians behind the film’s soundtrack — John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band — are here at Kennedy Plaza on the Atlantic City Boardwalk this July 3, 2024 evening to present a free Mardi Gras on the Boardwalk summer concert.

Explains concert producer Carmen Marotta, “Along with this being our 31st year of free Concerts on the Beach in Somers Point, NJ, this is our 13th season of doing Mardi Gras on the Boardwalk shows in Atlantic City. In addition to John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, we have the Tony Mart Legacy Last Waltz concert on July 24 starring The Radiators’ Dave Malone, Bonerama’s Mark Mullins, and others including Bob Margolin who appeared in the film, The Last Waltz. We also have The Devon Allman Project on August 7 and Samantha Fish on August 28, in addition to other shows — all of which are free to the public and take place right here at Kennedy Plaza on the Boardwalk.”

After thanking the various sponsors of today’s concert — notably the Atlantic City Casino Reinvestment Development Authority — Marotta introduces John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band — John Cafferty on guitar and lead vocals, Gary “Guitar” Gramolini on lead guitar, Don “DC” Culp on drums, Dean Cassell on bass, Michael “Tunes” Antunes on saxophone, and Richard McMahon on keyboards.

Appropriately enough, Cafferty and the band open tonight’s boardwalk performance with a slow and sensual rendition of The Drifters’ “Under the Boardwalk.”

John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band LIVE! on the AC Boardwalk

After declaring, “We’re so honored to be here tonight, we’re going to give you the best we’ve got!” Cafferty segues into the Eddie and the Cruisers’ rock ballad, “Boardwalk Angel,” where he croons, “So meet me out on the boardwalk tonight/Meet me down by the sea/We can dance in the carnival lights/On the shores of Jersey” as music lovers enjoy the perfect soundtrack to a summer’s eve at the Jersey Shore.

John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band LIVE! on the AC Boardwalk



 
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Concertgoers cheer when they recognize the keyboard intro to “On The Dark Side,” a Top 10 Billboard hit from the Eddie and the Cruisers soundtrack for Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band. As Cafferty sings, “The dark side’s coming now, nothing is real,” several concertgoers get up to dance while others clap their hands to the driving beat before reacting with avid cheers and applause.

Following the blues/rock story song, “Garden of Eden,” Cafferty and the band deliver their interpretation of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’ “Heatwave,” featuring an upbeat Michael “Tunes” Antunes tenor sax solo.

John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band LIVE! on the AC Boardwalk

Gary “Guitar” Gramolini and Cafferty follow up by singing harmony on the breezy “Day in the Sun” where Gramolini renders a thoughtful guitar solo.

After Cafferty and Antunes sing together on the sunshiny R&B tune, “California,” Cafferty thanks veterans in the crowd for their service and music lovers join him in singing the “I’m so glad I’m livin’ in the U.S.A” refrain of Chuck Berry’s “Back in the U.S.A.”

Cafferty and Co. follow up with their anthemic rocker from the movie Rocky IV, “Hearts on Fire,” prior to segueing into their dynamic rocker, “Voice of America’s Sons,” from the Sylvester Stallone film, Cobra.

John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band LIVE! on the AC Boardwalk

At the conclusion, Cafferty exclaims, “God bless America! Happy 4th of July!” The crowd cheers, and Cafferty sings with feeling on the rhythmic ballad, “Just a Matter of Time,” from Eddie and the Cruisers II before Antunes’ sax and Richard McMahon’s keys add their unique voices to the driving “Runnin’ Through the Fire” which features Cafferty and Gramolini in an electric guitar duel.”

John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band LIVE! on the AC Boardwalk

As the sun starts to set over Atlantic City, Cafferty croons in his bluesy voice, “Well, all over and all over/Things are tough all over” on the driving rocker, “Tough All Over.”

John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band LIVE! on the AC Boardwalk



 
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The sound of a twangy guitar introduces the rockin’ “Where the Action Is,” and Cafferty announces, “Summers here and the time is right!” before launching into the Eddie and the Cruisers’ classic, “Wild Summer Nights,” where music fans happily sing along on the “Wild summer nights” chorus prior to stopping to cheer for Cafferty and the band.

John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band LIVE! on the AC Boardwalk

Cafferty and Antunes dance on stage while playing the lively shuffle, “Some Like It Hot,” from Eddie and the Cruisers II where music lovers sing along on the “Some like it hot!” refrain before erupting in cheers and applause. Cafferty and Co. follow up by performing the mystical “Blue Moonlight Drive” where Cafferty and Antunes play a melody solo in unison on electric guitar and sax.

A highlight of tonight’s show is the classic Eddie and the Cruisers’ rock ballad, “Tender Years,” where the crowd joins in singing on the wistful “Whoa-oh-oh tender years/Won’t you wash away my tears” chorus.

John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band LIVE! on the AC Boardwalk

During the interlude, Michael “Tunes” Antunes reveals to the audience that he will soon turn 84 years old before he renders a wailing sax solo which inspires the crowd to stand and cheer.

The group begins to play a slow, rubato segment of John Sebastian and the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City,” before Cafferty switches gears and asks, “Do you want to dance?” Here, audience members rise to dance beside the ocean to Beaver Brown’s high-energy 1985 Top 20 hit, “C-I-T-Y.”

Concertgoers respond with an extended standing ovation, after which Cafferty and the band leave the stage and soon return for an encore of their ‘50s-style rocker, “Message to You,” which has music lovers’ heads bopping and toes tapping.

John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band LIVE! on the AC Boardwalk

Cafferty reminds the crowd, “The dance floor is open!” as he and the band conclude tonight’s show with two more cuts from Eddie and the Cruisers — The Rolling Stones-inspired “Down on My Knees” and the 1958 Chuck Willis rocker “Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes” — where Cafferty and Co. provide the soundtrack to the dance party disguised as a concert taking place on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band LIVE! on the AC Boardwalk

At the conclusion of the show, audience member Martin Davidson, the director of Eddie and the Crusiers, remarks, “It’s just amazing that we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of Eddie and the Cruisers — it was ten years ago we celebrated the 50th anniversary of my first film, The Lords of Flatbush — but for this rock and roll mystery, I had read a book called Eddie and the Cruisers by P. F. Kluge and we just took it from there.”

Reveals Davidson, “John Cafferty had written the song, ‘Tender Years,’ before I’d even met him, and when I asked him to do the score for Eddie and the Cruisers he said he’d do it, but when I told him we wanted to use ‘Tender Years’ in the film, he said, ‘No, I can’t give that one up!’ Thank God for both of us he changed his mind, however, because the Eddie and the Cruisers soundtrack went on to sell four and a half million copies!”

Lastly, with regards to this evening’s 40th anniversary tribute to the music of Eddie and the Cruisers, comments Davidson, “I hadn’t seen John and the band perform in a long time and I loved them tonight! It’s amazing that even after all these years, the music still holds up — it’s great!”

John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band LIVE! on the AC Boardwalk



 
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To learn more about John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, please go to johncafferty.com. For more info on the free series of Mardis Gras on the Boardwalk summer concerts in Atlantic City — including The Tony Mart Legacy Last Waltz show on July 24, The Devon Allman Project on August 7, and Samantha Fish on August 28 — please go to tonymart.com. For information on the free Tony Mart series of Concerts on the Beach in Somers Point, NJ, please click on somerspointbeachconcerts.com.

Photos by Love Imagery

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