FROM THE BREWERY TAP TO THE CLIFFS PAVILION
A brief biography of Bootleg Boss 2012-2015
By Keyboard Player Michael Herbert(aka Professor)
When I responded to Bootleg Boss’s advert for a keyboard player I knew little about the band, other than it was a six-piece* totally live tribute to Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, that had played it’s first gig in June 2012 at The Brewery Tap in Furneux Pelham.
My audition was arranged for mid-August 2015 in Cambridge, which meant I had the chance to see the band play live in the Maritime Room ten days earlier at the Cliffs Pavilion theatre in Southend. I was very impressed that balmy night in Essex as the band faultlessly played over twenty of Bruce Springsteen’s most popular songs, to a sizeable audience that danced and sang along and applauded enthusiastically after each number. Having seen Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band live in concert half-a-dozen times over the years and having played in bands myself for over quarter of a century, including a spell professionally in the mid-eighties, I could tell that Bootleg Boss were as they saying goes “the real deal” an exciting and excellent live band of professional standard. I saw my future in rock and roll that night and its name was Bootleg Boss.
The band line-up in Southend included three founder members, frontman Kev (lead vocals, guitar and harmonica), drummer Ed and keyboardist Rodger. Bass guitarist Conrad, saxophonist Julian and guitarist Craig completed the line-up, with Ed, Conrad and Rodger all singing backing vocals. The line-up today sees Stu on guitar and backing vocals as well as myself on keyboards (replacing Craig and Rodger)*.
When growing up on the Ayrshire coast Kev fell in love with the songs of New Jersey born Bruce Springsteen. A fan of his music for over 25 years now, Kev was strongly influenced by Bruce as he learnt to play guitar and sing, so strong in fact that to this day Kev still speaks with a Scottish brogue but sings in an American accent. Even with a guitar slung over his shoulder, that to my eye looks identical to the one Bruce Springsteen usually plays, Kev may not visually be a mirror image of The Boss, but he does unquestionably sound like him and many Bruce Springsteen fans, that I have spoken to, agree and do not hesitate to say so, the two words they often use are “authentic” and “brilliant”.
Someone deserving of special mention is Richard East, who as original guitarist not only played a big part in forming the band, but was also instrumental in getting it established. In fact it was Richard’s surname that led the band to being initially called Bootleg Boss & The East Street Band, a name that overtime has been shortened to Bootleg Boss and can these days mean the whole band or just Kev. When Kev and I perform as a duo we are usually billed as “Acoustic Bootleg Boss” not strictly true maybe, but we just prefer that name over the alternatives suggested that included “stripped down boss”.
YouTube played a part in bringing Kev and Richard together in February 2012. Kev who had been performing solo in pubs and clubs put some video footage up on YouTube of him singing, which was seen by Richard who contacted Kev and told him “we’ve got the band if you can be the Bruce”. Four months later Bootleg Boss & The East Street Band were on the road to Furneux Pelham and the rest as they say, is mostly yet to happen.
* Seven-piece since July 2017 with Mick Rose joining on piano