"I Don't Want to Go Home: The Oral History of the Stone Pony" is a new book written by Nick Corasaniti with a foreword by Bruce Springsteen. And when he's not writing about the Pony, Nick covers politics for the New York Times. He lives in both Asbury Park and Brooklyn and opened up to me about the book.

How much fun was it for you to write this book?

"It was a blast. It's the kind of encapsulation of what a passion project is. I saw my first concert there in the late '90s, and the lot behind the Stone Pony for the book tour, where my dad took me. And it's kind of had this grip over me forever. It's kind of an intoxicating place to see a show, no matter what genre of music you're seeing there. So it was a blast to talk to so many musicians I looked up to, and some who I never even knew had set foot in the Pony."

Stone Pony Travel Trip Greetings From Asbury Park
Sept. 18, 1998 file photo. (AP Photo/Mike Derer, FILE)

How did the Stone Pony get its name?

"So it's long been myth legend, who knows the real story. I talked to the founder Jack Roig who said it was as simple as this. He was having a bit of a fling with a lady in Asbury Park. And you know, he woke up one morning and rolled over, and she had a pony necklace on, and that came to him. He doesn't know where the "stone" in stone pony came from. But that was that."

Obit Clarence Clemons
A woman wipes tears from her face as a group of people gather next to a memorial for saxophonist Clarence Clemons at The Stone Pony rock bar, Sunday, June 19, 2011, in Asbury Park, N.J. Clemons, a featured performer who played at the rock bar with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, died of complications from a stroke on June 18. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

What were the early days like?

"So the the early days were dicey, to put it lightly. The roof caved in one year, they ran out of insurance money, and they were kind of just trying to scrape by weren't even sure that they were like meant to be a rock club."

"And then the BlackBerry Booze Band, who would become the Asbury Jukes, came in one night it was Southside Johnny, Stevie Van Zandt, a guy named Dave Meyers. And they said, Hey, give us your worst night. We'll take the door, you take the bar, which is a great deal for bar owners. But we get to play whatever we want."

"And what they wanted to play was not top 40. It was their own music. Sometimes it was covers. So it was Sam and Dave. You know, it was different music than what you'd hear on weekend nights at bars across the Jersey Shore. That started a scene that would bring people from all over the state who kind of crave this Jersey bar band scene."

"It was rock and roll with horns, R&B, and soul mixed in. It's obviously most famous in a lot of Springsteen songs, but also Southside Johnny songs. And the Jukes became the house band at the Pony. And that creates, a kind of permanency of where people are coming. Bruce starts coming, he plays with their other bands, in that same genre start coming in, it becomes a very fervent music scene, just like Motown in Detroit, yet it was happening in this kind of rundown town on the Jersey Shore, 40 miles from New York City.

President Obama Visits Jersey Shore
A sign at the famed The Stone Pony welcomes both U.S. President Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on May 28, 2013 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. S (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

How did Bruce get involved?

"Bruce, you know, grew up with Stevie and Southside. And had played with them at the upstage. The Upstage really kind of created that collaborative spirit, the Springsteen and Southside and Stevie and their whole gang had which is like, Asbury Park in New Orleans."

"And that's like anyone can show up at any time and play with anyone and know your tunes, know your stuff. And if you're good enough, you know, you can play. So the Pony became the place that was opened, and they wanted to do that. And Bruce really liked what Stevie and Southside were doing at the time BlackBerry Booze, which will become the Jukes so he just starts showing up."

"He would never bring any guitar like he didn't necessarily go expecting to play, but the way he is and where the Pony is, in the music scene then it was like, Well, I'm gonna hop up for a song or two songs, and it eventually built the legend from there."

U.S. Venues Light Up Red As Part Of The #RedAlertRESTART Campaign In Support Of The RESTART Act
(Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

What's your best Bruce story?

"My favorite was still in 2019 at the Summer Stage show for Southside Johnny he came out and played and then stayed for close to an hour. And you could just see the fun they had the way they were riffing it back and forth there during "Talk to Me" and these other kind of staples. It just was something that I have desired my whole life since I first saw Less than Jake and Pennywise in the lot behind The Stone Pony. And that kept me going there. So to finally see kind of what the apex version of it was in 2019 live, that was pretty special."

Kenny Chesney Performs A Private Concert For SiriusXM At The Stone Pony In Asbury Park, NJ; Performance Airs Live On Chesney's SiriusXM Channel No Shoes Radio
Country Superstar Kenny Chesney performs a private concert to celebrate the launch of his "No Shoes Raido" on SiriusXM at The Stone Pony on May 12, 2016 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Talk about the other genres of music that come through the Pony.

"So much music history has been influenced by the Stone Pony that is not readily apparent, and I always am a big advocate for New Jersey's influence on music history. I would say our Mount Rushmore is as strong as any other state's with Bruce, Sinatra, Whitney Houston and Bon Jovi.

"At the Pony on Tuesday nights in the '80s when Springsteen was still going there on Sundays and attracting the Bruce crowd. Tuesdays was metal night with a band called T.T. Quick. So while they were they were attracting a big crowd and it wasn't really a Bruce crowd, but certain people started to come see them."

"One guy by the name of Zakk Wylde, who's going to become one of the most influential rock guitarists of all time at the Osborne Black Label Society. He started going to see T.T. Quick all the time. He had a band called Virus before he even turned 18."

"The only way to get into the Pony was to play or go in with T.T. Quick. He says my friends went to Berkeley to study guitar, I went to the Stone Pony. He would go on to influence so much in terms of metal and heavy rock. That wouldn't have happened if not for the Stone Pony and that's different than Bruce."

MTV VMA Remote Performance
Nick Jonas, Joe Jonas and Kevin Jonas of The Jonas Brothers perform at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ as part of the 2019 MTV VMAs on August 25, 2019 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for MTV)

And then punk music found a home there. In the late '90s, that was the Bouncing Souls setting up shop and a lot of New Brunswick basement shows that the bands were growing as that genre of music was becoming more popular. All these bands were coming to the Pony and it became a home base.

And not just the souls but Gaslight Anthem, who would go on to sell out PNC Bank Arts Center and massive sheds. They were getting their feet wet there. Bands like My Chemical Romance selling out arenas were coming through there, too. So Pumpkin, Emo to another extent, really found a home on the Pony stage. That's obviously also a little different than Bruce's music.

20 Unforgettable Concerts That Happened At The Stone Pony In Asbury Park

Gallery Credit: Jimmy G

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