Chris Jordan, Asbury Park PressPublished 4:47 a.m. ET Sept. 27, 2019 | Updated 11:10 a.m. ET Sept. 27, 2019
On the day of his 70th birthday, staff at the Monmouth County Historical Society in Freehold prepare for their ‘Springsteen: My Hometown’ exhibit. Asbury Park Press
Chances are his hometown is a lot like your hometown.
Curators of the “Springsteen: His Hometown” exhibit, set for a Sunday, Sept. 29, opening at the Monmouth County Historical Association in Freehold, aim to show the story of Bruce Springsteen in Freehold is a story that translates around the world.
Springsteen indeed has fans around the world who know very well that Freehold is the Boss’ hometown.
Old concert posters are part of the ‘Springsteen: His Hometown’ exhibit at the Monmouth County Historcial Association. It is an historical exhibit that will provide a comprehensive look of how Monmouth County, NJ has been thematically woven into Bruce Springsteen’s music and art throughout his career. (Photo: Thomas P. Costello)
“When we are telling the story of him as a young boy here in Freehold, we place him in the context of history so when he’s growing up here his life was very similar to people who are in his economic class — their fathers worked in factories, they lived in a small town and they all had a similar experience,” said Meg Sharp Walton, the executive director of the Monmouth County Historical Association (MCHA). “He writes about it in such a way that you could be living in Spain or Japan and you can relate to it.”
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Springsteen made many references to Freehold in the hit music play “Springsteen on Broadway” and he performed “My Hometown” from the play on the 2018 Tony Awards broadcast on CBS.
On the day of his 70th birthday, staff at the Monmouth County Historical Society in Freehold prepare for their ‘Springsteen: My Hometown’ exhibit. (Photo: PAPP)
The Springsteen roots in Freehold date back to pre-Colonial days.
“We’re pretty certain that ancestor John Springsteen fought in the Battle of Monmouth,” Sharp Walton said. “A guitar owned by one of Alexander Springsteen’s fellow soldiers in the Civil War was brought with him to battle and Alexander would have heard this guitar being played. We now have it in our collection.”
Springsteen fans will get the whole story on two floors at the exhibit, and there will be plenty of wow moments. The Teac Tascam four-track cassette recorder he recorded “Nebraska” on, never-before-seen school papers, and the personal scrapbook of his mom, Adele Springsteen, are part of the exhibit.
Ryan O’Keeffe and Trisha Putkowski give a tour of their home in Freehold Borough, the same place where Bruce Springsteen lived during his youth. Thomas P. Costello , Asbury Park Press
“Luckily, Adele saved everything right from the beginning of Bruce’s career,” Chapman said.
The scrapbook includes a letter from early manager Mike Appel: “We just had 400 people at a show, we think your son is going to be a star.”
“Just watching the career grow through Adele’s scrapbooks is pretty exciting,” Chapman said.
Bruce Springsteen departs after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016, in Washington. (Photo: Andrew Harnik, AP)
The exhibit includes 20 items from Springsteen’s personal collection.
“His management and Bruce himself were involved in creating this exhibit,” Chapman said. “Every step of the way.”
The exhibit celebrates the centennial of Freehold Borough and its opening comes six days after the 70th birthday of Springsteen. There will be more than 150 items on display, many from the Springsteen Archives and from the MCHA.
Don’t miss the short film, “Bruce Springsteen: Hometown” by Emmy-winning Asbury Park filmmaker Adam Worth, at the exhibit. It features interviews with Springsteen cousin Glenn Cashion and Freehold historian Kevin Coyne. There’s also archival footage from the shorts “Freehold Romance” (1931) and “My Hometown Freehold” (1947).
Eileen Chapman, director of the Bruce Springsteen special collection at Monmouth University, speaks about this shirt worn by Bruce Springsteen on a Rolling Stone magazine cover that is part of the ‘Springsteen: His Hometown’ exhibit at the Monmouth County Historical Association. It is an historical exhibit that will provide a comprehensive look of how Monmouth County, NJ has been thematically woven into Bruce Springsteen’s music and art throughout his career. (Photo: Thomas P. Costello)
Melissa Ziobro, Monmouth University’s Specialist Professor of Public History, and Bernadette Rogoff, director of collections for MCHA, are the co-curators. Chapman and Robert Santelli, founding director of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, are advisors to the exhibit.
The exhibit will be up through fall 2020. A preview event featuring performances by Bobby Bandiera and Joe Grushecky will take place on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the association. Some sponsor tickets, starting at $2,500, are available. Visit monmouthhistory.org/springsteen for more info.
“I know there are people from literally around the globe who have booked tickets to come see the exhibit,” Ziobro said. “I can’t wait for people to get in there and see it.”
Chris Jordan, a Jersey Shore native, covers entertainment and features for the USA Today Network New Jersey. His multiple awards include recognition for stories on both Bruce Springsteen and Snooki. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; email@example.com. Stay with app.com or consider a subscription today.
Springsteen: His Hometown
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When: Opening Sunday, Sept. 29. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays, through fall of 2020
Where: Monmouth County Historical Association, Court Street, Freehold
Tickets: $15, free for Freehold residents