Springsteen Tribute Band Pulls Out of New Jersey Inauguration Gala

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Photo

The B-Street Band, with Willie Forte, center.

Credit
via Willie Forte/B-Street Band

There will have to be a B-Street shuffle at an unofficial inaugural ball in Washington. A Bruce Springsteen tribute band is withdrawing from headlining the Garden State Inaugural Gala after receiving thousands of angry emails from Springsteen fans.

Mr. Springsteen is an avowed critic of President-elect Donald J. Trump, and Willie Forte, the founder and keyboardist of the B-Street Band, said that the group did not want to disrespect the source of its livelihood by performing at the gala on Thursday.

“We got caught in a hurricane of distorted media in a sense with headlines,” Mr. Forte said. “Saying that Trump hired the B-Street Band, and that wasn’t true.”

In reality, the band had signed up to play the ball well before Mr. Trump even announced his candidacy for the White House. The group had played the previous two galas, when President Obama was being inaugurated. But a firestorm started after the band and the gala announced at their websites that B Street would return for a third straight time. Fans across the United States and outside the country started weighing in angrily. Even Mr. Springsteen’s bassist, Garry Tallent, was aghast on Twitter, saying: “Please tell me this is more fake news. Or at least a joke.”

“We started to realize that the story was being distorted even more, and we were beginning to feel isolated,” Mr. Forte said. “And we had a talk among the band, like, ‘What’s the most important thing to us?’ Well, the most important thing to us is that we’re not construed as being disrespectful or ungrateful to Springsteen and his music and the E Street Band.”

Nancy Blades Fatemi, the executive director of the New Jersey State Society, which runs the ball, said she was “swamped with requests from other bands” to take B-Street’s place.

“We are very disappointed but we understand the decision based on all the questions and attention this has brought to the B-Street Band,” Ms. Fatemi said in a statement. “Our New Jersey State Society mission has always been to bring people together in a congenial, nonpartisan way. In New Jersey, we are always stronger than the storm.”

Mr. Forte said he was saddened by the outcome.

“I’m hoping my 15 minutes of fame goes quickly,” he said.

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