Bruce Springsteen tribute band pull out of inaugural ball

NEW YORK • 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 e-mails from Springsteen fans.

Springsteen is an avowed critic of United States President-elect Donald Trump and Willie Forte, founder and keyboardist of the B-Street Band, said the group did not want to disrespect the source of their livelihood by performing at the gala tomorrow.

"We got caught in a hurricane of distorted media in a sense with headlines," 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 Barack Obama was being inaugurated. But a firestorm started after the band and the gala announced on their websites that B-Street would return for a third straight time.

Fans across the US and outside the country started weighing in angrily. Even Springsteen's bassist, Garry Tallent, was aghast on Twitter, saying: "Please tell me this is more fake news. Or at least a joke."

Forte said: "We started to realise that the story was being distorted even more and we were beginning to feel isolated. 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."

Mr Trump has struggled like none of his predecessors to find household names for entertainment.

Some of the A-listers who supported his rival, Mrs Hillary Clinton, including singer Katy Perry and actresses Cher and Scarlett Johansson, will be going to Washington - not for Friday's inauguration but for the Women's March on Washington on Saturday, which will press the new administration on civil rights.

The biggest names at Mr Trump's inaugural festivities will be country singers Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood, and emerging teen soprano Jackie Evancho.

Ms Nancy Blades Fatemi, executive director of the New Jersey State Society, which runs the unofficial inaugural 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," she 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."

Forte said he was saddened by the outcome. "I'm hoping my 15 minutes of fame goes quickly," he said.

NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2017, with the headline 'Bruce Springsteen tribute band pull out of inaugural ball'. Print Edition | Subscribe