The time Big Joe played Santa on stage with Bruce Springsteen
This time of year reminds me of the great time I had while helping raise money for some great charities. In December for the past 11 years or so, music aficionado Bobby Bandiera (Southisde Johnny, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and others) put together a killer holiday show that featured some of New Jersey's best musicians.
This holiday show at The Count Basie in Red Bank included participation form Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny, Gary US Bonds, Darlene Love, Max Weinberg, Ben E King and many other local talented musicians.
There are usually different charities that received the millions of dollars that this concert series has produced. I've had the pleasure of hosting almost all of them and enjoyed that experience. A great feel good show.
So in 2008 Bobby Bandiera asks me, "do you still have your Santa suit?" I said, "yeah, why?" Bobby says, "I want you to wear it for the Hope Concert." I asked what happened to the guy who was Santa the previous year. Bobby says, "he was all over Bruce and bothering him. I told Bruce you have a suit." I reluctantly said ok because it's a pain to get into and hot as hell in there.
I got the suit back in 2005 from my tailor Michael Duru who custom made it for my trip to the Gulf Coast when we delivered toys to kids ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.
So I slipped into the Santa Suit and had Bruce laughing when he saw me. We had a blast on strange and the crowd enjoyed it. I threw Bruce a curve when I sand the first "You better be good for goodness sake" part which was originally sang by Clarence Clemens.
Afterwards backstage, Bruce said that I was the biggest *&^%@# Santa he ever saw. I told him if you keep talking like that, Santa is going to skip his house. He laughed.
Bobby and his talented lineup raised over $360,000 that night for local New Jersey charities. I miss those concerts but I'm honored and thankful I could be a part of them.