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Jake Clemons at SoundBoard, 5 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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Jake Clemons has helped make sparks fly on E Street during the past five years.

The 37-year-old multi-instrumentalist and bandleader took over on Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band after the death of his uncle, Clarence Clemons, in 2011. He’s done four tours of duty with Springsteen and company, making his own mark in some pretty Big Man shoes.

But Clemons is an artist in his own right, with additional credits playing with the Roots, Roger Waters and the Swell Season and albums of his own, including “Fear & Love” earlier this year. And with Springsteen off the road for a stretch, it’s allowing Clemons to push his own name to the fore for a bit...

• Clemons says that since “Fear & Love’s” release in January he’s watched the songs grow as he and his band spend more time performing them. “That’s the beautiful thing about records,” he says by phone from Montreal. “Something beautiful happens when you’re in front of an audience playing it, and you’ll see people in the audience and you’re imagining their own stories and it starts to transform those meanings and what the songs are about and it almost becomes a different record that night. It’s been an interesting experience.”

• He’s pleased that as time has gone on he deals with fewer calls for Springsteen songs from his audience. “I’ve been fortunate for the past couple of years to not have to face that,” he says. “At this point a lot of people come with some familiarity with my solo career, and those who don’t at least come with an open ear to listen. Early on, several years ago, there’s be the occasionally shout for a (Springsteen) song or something like that, but I would say in the last five years it’s maybe happened once where somebody yelled something silly. So I’m really grateful that most of those people who have come come without expections, and they leave with an understanding and appreciation -- hopefully, in most cases.”

• And, by the way, no amount of yelling will get you a Springsteen song. “We occasionally do a couple covers, but we haven’t done any Springsteen songs,” Clemons reports. “I think that at this point I might run into the risk of mixing the message; If the night is being shaped and molded in a specific way, I think that might be a distraction, even if it fit the story. So that’s not something we do right now. I wouldn’t say that won’t happen in the future; You never know, but currently it’s not.”

• Clemons is already thinking about his next album -- or albums, as it were. “Yeah, I’m always thinking about the next two or three albums,” he says. “There’s a couple of things that I’m hoping to get out soon -- not out in the public, but just to (record). I’m constantly writing, and there’s a symphonic piece that I’m trying to finish up and an acoustic record that I want to get out and then another full band record that I’m working on. I don’t know what will be released next, but there’s always stuff that’s in the pot, if you will.”

• Clemons’ upcoming show in Detroit will be his first ever with Tower Of Power, a group he’s long admired. “In terms of horn sections are concerned, it’s certainly one of the greatest that ever existed,” he says. “I did a little bit of studying on them and had a sense of their sound back in 2012. It’s a great, great band and maybe the tightest horn section that’s existed since James Brown, I would see. It should be a very cool show. It was very exciting when the offer came in.”

If You Go

• Tower of Power and the Jake Clemons Band

• 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10.

• SoundBoard in the Motor City Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit.

• Tickets are $35-$48.

• Call 313-309-4614 or visit soundboarddetroit.com.

Note: The Jake Clemons Band returns to perform on Sept. 26 in the Pike Room at the Crofoot in Pontiac. Tickets are $17 in advance, $20 day of show. Call (248) 858-9333 or visit thecrofoot.com.

Web Site: www.soundboarddetroit.com

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