The Weehawken waterfront will come alive with the sound of music once again as Hudson River Performing Arts Center (HRPAC) kicks off their summer series of concerts set in Lincoln Harbor Park, sponsored in part by the Hudson Reporter.
Legendary singer, songwriter, and all around good time guy Gary U.S. Bonds will kick off this year’s concerts on July 6 at 7 p.m. with Finish This, a local band, opening at 6 p.m.
Bonds had several hits in the early 1960s but then resurfaced in 1981 with a top 40 hit, “This Little Girl (Is Mine).”
Though he’s often mistaken for a Jersey boy (a side effect from hanging out with Bruce Springsteen), Bonds is originally from Virginia and has lived in New York for the past 37 years.
Still, he’ll be bringing the Jersey shore spirit – as well as rock n’ roll classics like “Quarter to Three” and “New Orleans” – to the west bank of the Hudson River next Wednesday.
He told the Reporter that concert attendees better be ready to get down and have some fun.
“We’ll be there for a while, so buckle up,” he said.
The ‘bond’ with Bonds
Bonds, born Gary Anderson, was only 19-years-old and sitting on the porch at home with friends and his mother when he heard his first song, “New Orleans,” come on the radio for the first time.
But his elation quickly turned to dismay when he heard the DJ Jack Holmes announce that the song was a new record from someone named “Gary U.S. Bonds.”
He said to his friends, “I’ve only recorded one record and somebody stole it already.”
“No, that’s you,” they responded. “They changed your name!”
As a promotional effort, Bonds’ manager at the time had copies of his records sent to radio stations in sleeves inscribed “Buy U.S. Bonds.”
“U.S. bonds were a big selling thing,” he said. “They were doing a lot of advertising on it.”
So while DJs across the country put the record on thinking they were promoting U.S. Savings Bonds, they quickly realized it was something else entirely coming out of the speakers – good music.
“We got a lot of play out of it,” said Bonds. “They took it as a joke, but they got serious with it and it worked.”
Living like a legend
During his career, Bonds said he has watched music change from two-track to beyond 200-track.And the audiences at his shows have changed as well.
“In the last two or three years it’s been so diverse,” he said, adding that grandparents often come up to him now to get autographs along with their grandkids who want one too. “From 8 to 80. That is so cool man.”
Likewise, Bonds tries to keep up with trends in music with the help of his daughter (who performs with him as a backup singer, along with his wife).
“I tend not to listen to the oldies ’cause I’ve heard them so many times before,” he said, laughing.
As a result of that, his newer work often defies categorization. His latest album, “Let Them Talk,” started off with a contemporary blues theme, but he went off into different directions as he found new things that he liked.
And with his own record label, Bonds said he likes being able to make music however he pleases.
“The freedom of that is enough for me,” he said. “It’s the best job in the world; this is all I’ve ever done all my life and I’m so glad.”
Concert goers should know that “anything goes” when they arrive on Wednesday. Bonds’ concerts often don’t have a regular set and even if there is one, it often gets changed to cater to what the people want.
“We have fun,” said Bonds. “This is what my music has always been about.We’ve been kicking it like that for 50 years now.”
Finish This, a local band, will open the series premiere concert on July 6 at 6 p.m. Gary U.S. Bonds will hit the stage at 7 p.m. Attendees may bring a blanket or lawn chair.
For more information visit www.hrpac.org or call (201) 716-4540.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at email@example.com.
Mark your calendars
Free concerts at Lincoln Harbor Park on the Weehawken waterfront kick off on July 6 at 7 p.m.with Gary U.S. Bonds and shows will continue throughout the summer. Rain dates, if necessary, will be the following night after each scheduled performance. For more information, directions, and late-breaking concert news and updates, check the HRPAC website at www.hrpac.org or call (201) 716-4540.
Shows currently planned include:
July 20 at 7 p.m. – Paquito and Friends
Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. – Fusion Tango
Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. – Broadway on the Hudson
Sept. 18 at 2 p.m. – Hudson River West Folk Festival