HughE Dillon: Bruce Springsteen Exhibit

A dose of rock 'n' roll arrives at the National Constitution Center.

A little bit of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will be calling Philadelphia home with the must-see exhibition “From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen” at the National Constitution Center from February 17th to September 3rd. I got a preview of the show at a press conference yesterday. Frank Stefanko photographed the singer with his 1960 Chevrolet Corvette when Springsteen was at Stefanko’s Haddonfield home for an album cover shoot. (The iconic Darkness on the Edge of Town shot of Springsteen with the rose-flowered wallpaper in the background was taken in Stefanko’s dining area.) Stefanko photographed Springsteen for several years and forged a 30-year friendship with him. The Corvette is the centerpiece of the Constitution Center exhibit. Springsteen bought it in 1975 with the money he earned from “Born to Run.”

Below: Longtime Springsteen photographer Frank Stefanko, XPN’s Michaela Majoun, and Jim Henke, curator of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Stefanko was born in Philly and grew up in Camden going to Woodrow Wilson High School. Henke says that whenever Springsteen comes across something significant he adds it to the Hall of Fame collection, and sometimes he will take something out of the exhibit to use. Recently he wanted to use his Esquire guitar at the Grammys so he borrowed it. (It should be back in place by opening day of the exhibit.)

There was also an opening gala last night. The Constitution Center was transformed into the Asbury Park boardwalk complete with cotton candy, Cracker Jacks, popcorn and even a few rolling chairs. Entertainment was provided by a Springsteen tribute band: B Street Band. Below: Vince Stango, chief operating officer at the NCC, and Margaret Cronan, NCC chief communications officer. This is the first time the Bruce Springsteen exhibit has been seen anywhere other than the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.

Below: Monica Avery, producer at CBS 3, John Hitchcock, president/general manager CBS 3/CW Philly, Sofia Sosangelis, sales and marketing manager at CBS. Monica’s favorite part of the exhibit was “the hand-written lyrics … seeing the process of crafting those fantastic songs!” She’s looking forward to seeing Bruce in concert in March. Springsteen will play here March 28th & 29th at the Wells Fargo Center.

Below: Michael Kates and his lovely wife, Keren Ini Kates were there. Michael is a big fan of Bruce’s going back years. His favorite song is “Jungleland,” which is mine too. There’s nothing like seeing Bruce play “Jungleland” in a sold-out Spectrum. Throughout the exhibit’s run, the Constitution Center will be featuring special events. On March 14th, they’ll show the documentary The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, and on April 26th there will be the Glory Days: 1980s Party.

Below: Dawn Kamerling, owner of The Press House, Peter Blachley, owner of the Morrison Hotel Gallery, Susan Brandt, and Rich Horowitz, partner at the Morrison Hotel Gallery. The Morrison Hotel Gallery represents the photographers who have photographed Springsteen. Prints and other exhibit mementos will be on sale in the gift shop.

Below: Robert J. Mongeluzzi (who told me his favorite Springsteen song is “The Fever”), Meredith Seigle, Nancy Savoth, and John E. Savoth, 85th chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association. John’s favorite Springsteen tune is “Incident on 57th Street.” When he was younger, his nickname was Spanish Johnny, from the song’s lyrics: “Spanish Johnny drove in from the underworld last night. With bruised arms and broken rhythm in a beat-up old Buick.”

Below: I caught Denise and Marc Herold dancing to the sounds of the B Street Band and just had to take their photo. They are both big Springsteen fans, really enjoyed the exhibit, and are looking forward to his CD that drops on March 3rd, Wrecking Ball. Marc tells me his favorite song is “Promised Land,” as it reflects the burdens of life that we all experience, but there’s a promised land for everyone. He told me his promised land is his wife.

Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez is an American drummer. Between 1968 and 1974, Lopez played on Springsteen’s first two albums, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., and The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle, in earlier versions of the E Street Band. In 1974, he left the band before they really hit it big. When Bruce was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he thanked Vini. Since then, Bruce has invited Vini up on stage at a few concerts to play a song or two. Last night it was like he never left the band 25 years ago, as people asked him to sign albums and photos and pose for photos with them. If you’re a Bruce fan, run-don’t-walk to this exhibit. You’re gonna love it. Maybe Bruce will even slip in one of these days to check out the exhibit himself.