Here's where my lucky star dangles in the sky, I was offered tickets to "Bob's Birthday Bash" last Saturday night at the Paramount Theatre and couldn't make it due to previous commitments. I had Executive Director Tony Pallagrosi in-studio at New Jersey 101.5 along with Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez and Glen Burtnik, both of whom performed at the Light of Day Winterfest. The fact that I couldn't go should have been a confirmation that Bruce Springsteen would show up...and he did. As Randy Alexander wrote in his Light of Day press release:

"Springsteen, dressed in black jeans, a plaid checkered shirt and a newsboy cap, made three onstage appearances with Jesse Malin, Willie Nile, and Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers. whom he performed a 70 minute set with alternating between Grushecky and Springsteen numbers. Included in a 10-song set were Boss favorites 'The Promised Land,' 'Atlantic City,' 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' and traditionally, 'Light of Day.' The latter was a signal for all of the evening’s performers to fill the stage and become an impromptu chorus."

Bob’s Birthday Bash is named after the organization’s co-founder and inspiration, artist manager and music industry veteran Bob Benjamin, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1996, and continues to fight not only his personal health struggles, Benjamin, now wheelchair bound, joined Springsteen and the other participants on stage at the end of the evening for the traditional birthday cake presentation as the musicians and audience sang “Happy Birthday.”

Though "Light of Day" usually closes Bob’s Birthday Bash, Springsteen had one more song to offer. He switched to acoustic guitar and serenaded Benjamin on a solo rendition of “Thunder Road.” “Thank you, Bob,” said Springsteen. “We love you.”

I asked LOD publicist Randy Alexander what it was like being backstage with Bruce:

"There's always magic in the night when Bruce shows up," Alexander told me in a text. "We never know until the last minute but we always hope. Either way, it's always special. Bruce just adds that extra special something. Backstage he likes to hang wit the other musicians but everyone respects his privacy at the same time. He spent most of his time with his close friend Joe Grushecky who has written and toured with him and who's band backs him on stage."

"It's just good lovin' all around," Alexander said, "and if he never comes to 'Light of Day' again, we are elated that he rallied for Bob Benjamin in this special 20th anniversary. He's done his job."

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