Steven Van Zandt and the Disciples of Soul to rock Ridgefield Playhouse
Steven Van Zandt has always been a bit of a rebel. The guitarist/songwriter and longtime member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, even got kicked out of high school for having long hair.
“Yes, that’s true,” he said. “I got kicked out of school and the house at the same time, for being, you know, a freak. People didn’t have long hair back then. It was a whole different world.”
Van Zandt, 67, said he wound up returning and graduating — to make his mom happy. But conforming to society wasn’t his thing. “We are the first generation in history to not grow up to be our parents, and you know, maybe the only generation to not grow up to be our parents.”
OK, so maybe he wasn’t a model student, but he’s certainly a multitalented artist. The co-founder of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes is an actor (“The Sopranos”) and disc jockey, too. He’s also an activist whose latest cause, TeachRock, harnesses the power of music for education, providing free multimedia materials to teachers.
Not to mention, he fronts his own band. Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul will perform at Ridgefield Playhouse on Tuesday, May 1, to benefit TeachRock. Van Zandt was in Toronto for a movie shoot when we reached him by phone to chat about that concert. He wasn’t able to share much about the film, a Christmas movie, but said his show will be a blast.
“We’ll do about two and a half hours of music, pretty much the whole ‘Soulfire’ album and other things from my career. It’s pretty much the history of rock ’n’ roll from doo-wop and the blues to rock, soul, salsa and reggae. We cover the waterfront and I have the best band ever assembled, I believe.”
Van Zandt said, “You’re not gonna see a 15-piece band too often with this level of authenticity, it’s a real unique experience.” He’ll tell a few stories, too, about the origins of songs, and a little about himself.
Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 E. Ridge. Tuesday, May 1, 8 p.m. $125. 203-438-5795, www.ridgefieldplayhouse.org
“My history is almost simultaneous with the history of rock ’n’ roll. I missed the first decade, the ’50s, but other than that I was a witness to it all. “My grandfather gave me my first guitar and taught me some songs from his village in Calabria. I got started that way.”
His fate was pretty much sealed when the Beatles performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 9, 1964. He was 13, he said, and soon after, he wound up getting an electric guitar.
“I bought it at Jack’s Music Shoppe in Red Bank (N.J.), which is still there; it’s amazing. It would be another two years before I could really play. I started my first band in 1966... It took a few years to become proficient. I’m still working on it.”
Van Zandt said the arts are so important for kids, and years of cuts in funding make it very hard for schoolteachers who are “the ones on the front line doing the real work.” He hopes many will take advantage of TeachRock, which aims to help make up for those cuts with lesson plans and other free resources via www.teachrock.org
firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @LindaTKoonz