Southside Johnny Recording Billie Holiday Tribute

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Southside Johnny (from from Southside’s Facebook page)

Southside Johnny, leader of New Jersey perennials Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, is recording a new album of songs made famous by jazz singer Billie Holiday. The band’s saxophonist, John Isley, posted on his Facebook page that singer Southside Johnny (John Lyon) is working with a horn-heavy outfit on the recordings.

Wrote Isley, “I had the distinct pleasure of spending the last week in the studio with this band of miscreants, working on an album I arranged, orchestrated, conducted, contracted, played on and will eventually mix. These guys took my scribblings on the page and turned them into some truly wonderful music. The songs of Billie Holiday, sung by Southside Johnny (FYI – not the album title). Should be out late Spring 2017.”

Related: An insider’s view of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run breakthrough

Bruce Springsteen, Steve Van Zandt and Southside Johnny, from left to right (Photo from Southside’s Facebook page)

The musicians participating in the sessions, according to Isley, are Southside Johnny (vocals, harmonica), Chris Anderson (trumpet, flugelhorn), Ronnie Buttacavoli (trumpet, flugelhorn), Neal Pawley (trombone), Allen Won (flute, clarinet, alto saxophone), Isley himself (flute, tenor saxophone, arranger), Ken Hitchcock (alto flute, bass clarinet, baritone saxophone), Glenn Alexander (guitar), Steve Count (bass) and Shawn Pelton (drums).

In a related article published on, writer Jay Lustig wrote, “Southside—who has covered one of Holiday’s signature songs, ‘God Bless the Child,’ in concert—has often talked about her influence on him.”

He also noted, “This will be Southside’s second album devoted to the songs of a single artist. In 2008, he teamed with LaBamba’s Big Band to release Grapefruit Moon: The Songs of Tom Waits.

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes came up in the same New Jersey bar-band scene as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, but have largely stayed true to their R&B roots. The band still performs regularly around the state and tours.

Watch Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (and friend) tearing it up nearly 40 years ago.

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