While Bruce continues his sold-out run on Broadway with a stripped-down show, long-time bandmate Steve Van Zandt has been on the road and in the studio with his Disciples of Soul big-band extravaganza. Arriving at Brooklyn Bowl on December 20, Little Steven and the Disciples performed an exuberant showcase of classic rock, blues, soul and doo wop colored with Van Zandt’s warm, funny and gracious commentary. A video of the crew dressed in Christmas costumes and vamping it up on a beach while performing a cover of The Ramones’ “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wan to Fight Tonight”) set a decidedly holiday tone before the band took the stage and kicked things off with Tom Petty’s “Even the Losers.”

“I think my first gig was in a bowling alley,” Van Zandt joked with the audience early on. “It’s nice to see how far I’ve come.” The set list included further covers such as Etta James’s “Blues Is My Business” and James Brown’s “Down and Out in New York City” along with original tunes Van Zandt contributed to for E Street Band cohorts Southside Johnny (“I Don’t Wanna Go Home”) and Gary U.S. Bonds (“Standing in the Line of Fire”). The Disciples of Soul include Marc Ribler on guitar, Rich Mercurio on drums and multi-instrumentalist Lowell Levinger (an original member of The Youngbloods) on keyboards and mandolin. The multi-piece horn section adds a soulful punch while a trio of backup singers is a big part of the band's sound and energetic stage presence.

Several times throughout the evening Van Zandt paused to comment on the darkness of our current political situation. They were sobering moments in an otherwise joyful experience that he likened to a shared sacrament among those of who remain committed to truth and respect for one another. “We will get through this,” he assured the audience, and at least for a few hours everyone believed we will.

Photos from the night are in the gallery above. Meanwhile, Little Steven has organized and will lead "Time And Time Again: A Celebration of the Life of Pat DiNizio," a tribute concert to the late Smithereens frontman at NJ's Count Basie Theatre on January 13. The surviving members of The Smithereens are playing with Steve and Patty Smyth of Scandal as vocalists, with more to be announced. Says Steve:

I was set to host this Smithereens and Patty Smyth and Scandal show as part of Citi’s Underground Garage at the Basie series. With the sudden, tragic passing of Pat DiNizio, I think it’s appropriate that we take this moment to pay tribute to him. I will be honored to sing a few of his songs with the band, and I’m asking any friends of mine if they can make themselves available for a song or two. We’ll see who’s around.

Tickets are on sale. Little Steven also played the New Year's Eve show at East Village club Berlin with Billie Joe of Green Day, Tommy Stinson, Clem Burke and more.

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photos and review by Lou Montesano