Southside Johnny hopes his music offers a great escape

CorrespondentFebruary 15, 2013 

Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes will play the Carolina Theatre tonight.

COURTESY OF JOHN CAVANAUGH

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    Who: Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes

    When: 8 p.m. Friday

    Where: Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan St., Durham

    Cost: $32.35, $42.65 and $53.90

    Details: 919-560-3040

Southside Johnny Lyon is looking for a good time. So where is the veteran singer/party boy? Sorting through 45s at a record store in his native New Jersey.

“This makes me feel good,” Lyon says via cellphone as he sifts through racks of wax in Berlin, N.J. “I’ve been doing whatever I can to raise my spirits.”

Lyon, who moved back to the Asbury Park area a decade ago from Delaware, has been melancholy. The Jersey coast was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy four months ago.

Lyon’s Ocean Grove, N.J., house was spared but many of his neighbors’ homes, and the community in general, were rocked by the storm.

“The only bad thing that happened to me was I got a flat tire driving through the water in the streets of Ocean Grove, checking out what happened to my neighbors,” Lyon says.

“I got a flat tire when I drove over a piece which was part of the Ocean Grove boardwalk. It serves me right for doing what I was doing.”

Lyon, 64, more than made up for his venial sin by participating in a late December annual charity concert that was a who’s who of central Jersey rock. The benefit show raised money for a New Jersey cancer hospital.

Jon Bon Jovi, Gary U.S. Bonds, Bobby Bandiera and Ben E. King were among those who donated their time for the worthy cause.

But Lyon stole the show, and also the microphone, from a surprised King as King sang his classic “Stand By Me.”

The charismatic Lyon won over the audience with his energy, playfulness and humor.

“I just do what I do,” Lyon says. “It’s my job. People know what to expect from me.”

When Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes play Friday at the Carolina Theatre, expect an evening’s worth of celebratory, gritty rock.

“I just try to take everyone away for two hours, in which you don’t have to think about anything,” he says. “It’s that simple. It’s been a rough year for a lot of people and if I can offer some escape, that’s a good thing. That’s why I love doing what I do with this band. We have fun and the audience has fun.”

Southside and the Jukes, which formed 40 years ago, never broke out, as some music pundits expected, but it’s been a nice, steady career for the band, who found a niche as a group that serves up solid, well-constructed pop-rock tunes.

The group never hurts for gigs or fans who want to have fun. Southside provides a great means of escape through relatable songs, such as “This Time It’s For Real,” “I Don’t Want To Go Home” and “Love On The Wrong Side Of Town,” that are filled with deep grooves and strong rhythms.

“It’s been a good run,” Lyon says. “We have great fans. I’m thankful that’s the way it is because I don’t know what else I would do.”

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