Every so often, order a story will emerge that is so perfectly tailored to your interests that the first you’ll hear of it is when six of your friends tag you in the same post on Facebook at once.
The world’s first, as far as they can tell, and certainly best-named all-female Bruce Springsteen covers band, The She Street Band came about after bassist Jody Orsborn saw Springsteen live for the first time at Wembley. Stunned and moved by the whole experience, she rang round some musician friends and put together the seven-piece lineup who played their debut sold-out gig at London’s Moth Club in April.
(Hey, as I’ve always said, you owe it to yourself to see Bruce Springsteen live…)
For what I guess are obvious reasons, The She Street Band isn’t your typical tribute act. Nobody’s pouring herself into jeans and a white t-shirt and play-acting Bruce (although I could volunteer a Scooter-cat, if anybody is looking?). Rather, vocal duties rotate between five different singers depending on the song, but you can expect all of the classic hits from the band’s upcoming Glasgow debut.
I caught up with Jody and keyboardist Lynn Roberts ahead of the show to talk about our favourite dude, and find out a little more about the women behind The She Street Band.
LAST YEAR’S GIRL: I guess the first question is: how did The She Street Band come about? Was it always your intention to be an all-female tribute, or was that just the way it worked out?
JODY ORSBORN: I went to see Bruce at Wembley last year. It was my first time seeing him, though I’d loved his music for years, and I walked away from the gig absolutely astounded by how amazing it was. Not just Bruce (who was of course incredible) but by the whole experience. The crowd and the fans were something else, their spirit was so infectious. When I left, I was like… I need some more of that in my life and the idea of the band just sort of came to me. I had a few good pals who were musicians so hit them up and luckily, everyone was into it! So a few days later, we were officially the world’s first all-girl Bruce Springsteen covers band.
So who’s in the band, and what does everybody do?
JODY: There are seven of us total. There’s Lynn Roberts on keys; Mia Vigar on rhythm guitar; Gemma Upton on lead guitar; Yasmin Ogilvie on sax; Calie Hough on drums; Clare McGrath on glockenspiel. I’m on bass. Five of us sing so we switch around vocals and backup vocals depending on the song and we do some switching up of instruments as well.
What’s your favourite Springsteen song to perform live? Is it different from your favourite Springsteen song to listen to?
LYNN ROBERTS: “Born to Run”! The count in halfway through – 1, 2, 3, 4 – is so exhilarating. ?I love love love “Stolen Car” too, it might not be a banger but what a gorgeous, heartbreaking song. Listening-wise I love Devils & Dust and The River.
JODY: I love performing “Badlands” and “Sherry Darling”. Both are such tunes and you can’t help but dance around playing them. Listening: “Thunder Road”, “Born To Run”, “Brilliant Disguise”, “Darkness on the Edge of Town”, all of Nebraska…
What is it about the music of Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band that appeals to you?
JODY: The songwriting is second to none. The music is so universal and versatile with a song for every emotion, moment, experience. I also love what Bruce represents. His whole philosophy is that if he doesn’t give the best show of his life every time you see him, why is he still doing it? It’s so refreshing after seeing so many other musicians who just seem to dial it in. He lives for the music, the fans… it’s super inspiring. Plus, his politics are amazing. I love how he speaks out and fights the good fight.
Are there any particular challenges of being an all-female Springsteen cover band? (I’m thinking here mostly of how two-dimensional some of the women portrayed in his songs are..?)
JODY: Challenges: I’d say no. His songs are so universal and I think a lot of his songs really speak on behalf of women actually (think of “The River” for example). They are songs about people and love and heartbreak and… they are just brilliant songs. The only thing we’ve run into is, well, guys who want to “test” our Springsteen knowledge. But besides that, it’s been awesome and people have been super receptive.
LYNN: ?I can’t think of anything – apart from maybe the E Street Band having two keyboard players and us having one! It’s one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.
You played your first show in London in April. What has the reaction been like?
JODY: We played our first gig in April at the Moth Club. It sold out to 350 people and we were covered in the likes of NME, Time Out and Elle Magazine… before we’d even got up on the stage, so the pressure was definitely on for our debut! But luckily, when we played, people seemed to be really into it. The best compliment I got was a mega Bruce fan who said he was really nervous about coming because he LOVES Bruce and if he didn’t like it he was going to be really depressed. But! He said he got the same buzz from our gig that he got when he went to a Springsteen show so that was really awesome!
LYNN: We’ve also had great support from the likes of Greasy Lake, the largest Bruce fan community; and Amy Lofgren, guitarist Nils Lofgren’s wife, tweeting about us, which has been really lovely. In general, ?everyone has been really nice!
What can Scottish fans expect from your Glasgow show?
JODY: There are five different girls who take the leads at different times so you aren’t seeing a traditional tribute where this is one Bruce. Each of us represents a slightly different side of Bruce and it means we keep the crowd on their toes. Most of the songs are done pretty true to style but there are a few we shake up a bit. In terms of the overall feel, we are really doing it for the love of the music, the love of the band and being in the band and the pure joy of getting to play songs that the crowd can sing along to. My absolute favourite moment of our debut gig was in “Badlands” where the fans started singing this counter melody along with us… it was such an incredible moment.
Are The She Street Band members involved in any other musical projects you’d like to tell us about?
?LYNN: I’m in Joe Innes & the Cavalcade, we’re ‘post-Brexit indie’ (according to our PR guy). I’m really proud of our latest record Foreign Domestic Policy, which came out this May. ?It’s personal and political and features Britney Spears’ guitarist (because we met him on tour and pestered him).
JODY: Calie will be going straight into rehearsals after for Boudica at the Shakespeare’s Globe. Yasmin is in an-all girl horn section called Apex Horns. Gemma records under the name Marine Store Dealer and is currently working on a record. I DJ quite a bit around London. We’re all involved in things here and there.
What’s next for the She Street Band?
JODY: We are working on a gig for this winter in London and we’ll hopefully be recording some tracks soon.
LYNN: Yeah, and maybe a bit more touring next year? ?We’d absolutely love to ?play in America soon.
And what’s on your tour bus stereo?
JODY: We all like slightly different stuff but can basically all agree on Dolly Parton, Prince, Beach House, and of course loads of Bruce!
The She Street Band play SWG3, Glasgow this Saturday (5th August), followed by Dancing in the Dark Disco late into the night. Tickets are available now.