Bruce Springsteen; Photo Courtesy of Conni Freestone
Photo Courtesy of Conni Freestone

Bruce Springsteen Makes Surprise Return to LIGHT OF DAY WINTERFEST to Celebrate 20th Anniversary of Musicians Battling Parkinson’s Disease

After five years away, Bruce Springsteen returned home to LIGHT OF DAY WINTERFEST last night in grand style to help “The Festival That Bruce Built” celebrate its 20th anniversary with his 12th surprise guest performance during Bob’s Birthday Bash, the six-hour “Main Event” of the 10-day festival he has brought to worldwide prominence in the global battle to defeat Parkinson’s Disease and related illnesses through the awesome power of music.

An elated audience at the sold-out Paramount Theater here watched as Springsteen made a trio of on-stage appearances – in order, with Jesse Malin, Willie Nile, and finally, longtime collaborators Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers – to help the Light of Day Foundation push its two-decade fundraising tally toward its $6 million goal by festival’s end after this weekend.

Bob’s Birthday Bash is named after the organization’s co-founder and inspiration, artist manager and music industry veteran Bob Benjamin, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1996, and continues to fight not only his personal health struggles, but on behalf of those afflicted around the world on behalf of the Light of Day Foundation. Now wheelchair-bound, Benjamin joined Springsteen and the other participants on stage at the end of the evening for the traditional birthday cake presentation as the musicians and audience sang “Happy Birthday.”

Dressed in black jeans, a plaid checkered shirt and newsboy cap, Springsteen first appeared with Malin to duet on “Broken Radio” and add guitar to “Meet Me at the End of the World” from Malin’s new album, Sunset Kids. Springsteen returned to join Light of Day stalwart Willie Nile on “One Guitar,” the Nile-penned number that has become the unofficial anthem of the annual celebration.

Springsteen returned to cap off the celebration for an explosive 70-minute set with Pittsburgh rocker Grushecky and his band, alternating between Grushecky and Springsteen numbers in a 10-song set that included Boss favorites “The Promised Land,” “Atlantic City,” “Darkness on the Edge of Town” and traditionally, “Light of Day.” The latter was a signal for all of the evening’s performers to fill the stage and become an impromptu chorus.

Though “Light of Day” usually closes Bob’s Birthday Bash, Springsteen had one more song to offer. He switched to acoustic guitar and serenaded Benjamin on a solo rendition of “Thunder Road.”

“Thank you, Bob,” said Springsteen. “We love you.”

Also performing at Bob’s Birthday Bash were Joe D’Urso & Stone Caravan, James Maddock, The Weeklings, Dramaramaand Boccigalupe & The Bad Boys, with acoustic turns by Danielia Cotton, Ben Arnold, former Springsteen drummer Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez, Jill Hennessy, Williams Honor, Lisa Bouchelle, Matt Jaffe, Adam Ezra, Brian Dunne and Miss Emily.

Tickets for remaining LIGHT OF DAY WINTERFEST 2020: THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY events are on sale through,Ticketmaster charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000, and all Ticketmaster outlets. Tickets for all events at House of Independents and the Saint are available through TicketWeb and at the venues’ websites. Tickets for McLoone’s Supper Club events are available at

A wide variety of combination ticket packages – as well as single tickets to each show – are available. Additional ticket info can be found at the official Light of Day website: and Facebook page:

Complete ticket and additional information for all LIGHT OF DAY WINTERFEST 2020 events at and on Facebook.

Here are the remaining LIGHT OF DAY WINTERFEST 2020: THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY events:

Sunday, JAN 19

REMEMBERING HARRY CHAPIN – A live concert featuring the song and stories of Harry Chapin, performed by John McMenamin and featuring special guests Howard Fields and John Wallace of the Harry Chapin Band, and others – Paramount Theater, Doors Noon; Show 1 p.m., $22-$52

LOD 20 AT THE LANES: BEST OF THE EAGLES – with special guests Miss Emily, The Bob Polding Band, plus special “After-Set” – Asbury Lanes, Doors Noon; Show 12:30 pm., $20 advance/$25 day of show. Bowling lanes will be open throughout the show!

KID’S ROCK – Indigo Mane, Lauren Gil, Sunsets From Jupiter, Jake Ryan, So Far Under, School of Rock Red Bank, The Nobodies, Rock’n Music Academy, Rockit (performing The Beatles: Solo Years), plus Ham by thePound, Ezra Caspi, Ross Owen, Julia Fleming, Evan Rotella, Double A, Jake Thistle, Matt Levine – Stone Pony, Sun., All Ages, Doors Noon; Show 12:15 p.m., $15 advance + fees at door or online.

SONGWRITERS BY THE SEA BOARDWALK CRAWL #1 – Adam Ezra, Mary McCrink, Taylor Tote, Hans Ludwigsson, plus Peter Hogklint, Matt Jaffe, Kent Nicholson, Arlon Bennett – Watermark, Sun., All Ages, Doors 11:30 a.m.; Show 12:15 p.m., $15 at door only

SONGWRITERS BY THE SEA BOARDWALK CRAWL #2 – Pat Guadagno, Brian Dunne, Bruce Tunkel, Lisa BouchelleColetti & Krizan, Tess Cameron, Scott & Kyle, Stella Mrowicki – Langosta Lounge, Sun., All Ages, 3pm, $15 at door only.

SONGWRITERS BY THE SEA BOARDWALK CRAWL #3 – Upstairs: LOD USA with Joe Grushecky, Willie Nile, Joe Rapolla, Peter ElkasDanielia Cotton, Anthony Krizan. Downstairs: LOD Europe with Joe D’Urso, Miss Emily, Vini Lopez, James Maddock, Ben Arnold, Quincy Mumford – McLoone’s Supper Club, Sun., All Ages, 6:15 pm, $20.

MUSICIANS ON A MISSION – Tommy B & The Deep Sea, Jake Tavil & Indigo Soul, Calabrese/Swerlin Band, Connor Bracken and the Mother Leeds Band, We’re Ghosts Now – The Saint, Sun., 18+, 12:15 p.m., $10 door (+ plus surcharge)

BLUE BAR – Xol Azul, Scott Wolfson & Other Heroes, Somewhat Relative, Virago – Berkeley Hotel, Noon, FREE ADMISSION.

LAST NOTE – Featuring Rock Groove, with Inflatable Head, Shady Street Show Band, Ian Gray Presents!, more – The Saint, 18+, 7:30pm, $8adv/$12dos

SPRINGSTEEN ON SUNDAY/107.1 THE BOSS LIVE BROADCAST – Longtime LOD concert host Tom Cunningham hosts his popular Springsteen program on 107.1 THE BOSS, live from the Anchor’s Bend restaurant, in the Convention Hall/Paramount Theatre complex, with very special guests, for the 4th consecutive year. 9 am-11 a.m. FREE ADMISSION.

Monday, JAN 20

GOODBYE BRUNCH, McLoone’s Supper Club, All Ages, 10a-2:30p.

Saturday JAN 25

LOD AFTERFEST: STEVE FORBERT & THE NEW RENDITIONS – House of Independents, Doors 2 p.m.; Show 2:50 p.m., $25/$60 VIP.

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