Members of a Bruce Springsteen cover band say they have received a tremendous amount of negative feedback since the announcement this week that they will be playing at an event during the inauguration festivities for President-elect Donald Trump.
The New York Times reported Friday that members of the band B Street played at the inauguration of Pres. Barack Obama in 2009 and were such a hit that they were asked back in 2013. They agreed to play the 2017 inauguration before the election and are now bearing the brunt of people’s dissatisfaction with the incoming administration.
“I never saw this coming — this part coming,” said B Street keyboardist and founder Willie Forte in an interview with the Times. “Are you asking me if, you know, if I would’ve reconsidered if I could go back in the beginning and I knew this was going to happen? Sure.”
Forte said that the band would agree to cancel their performance if Bruce Springsteen said he didn’t want them performing his songs at the inauguration, but the band hasn’t heard anything from the New Jersey rock icon, “thank God, so far.”
Forte said B Street is not “a political band.”
“I’ve gotten pushback from Springsteen fans that don’t know the reputation of our band or have never seen the band or talked to any of us,” he told the Times.
The event organizers — the New Jersey State Society — said they stand by B Street and are choosing to honor the occasion rather than the politics of the president-elect.
“Springsteen music is magic to the ears of our New Jersey members and guests, regardless of party,” said executive director of the New Jersey State Society Nancy Blades Fatemi in a statement. “It’s like, when you look at a Rembrandt or read Shakespeare, do you care what their politics were?”
“You can’t have an inaugural ball with a Jersey Shore boardwalk theme and not have great Jersey music,” Fatemi said. “Either the band or the D.J. will be playing Springsteen, Four Seasons, Frank Sinatra, the music legends that make us proud as New Jerseyans.”
B Street, she added, are “the official band of the New Jersey State Society” and that the organization “would not consider any other group.”
Forte told the Times that the band briefly considered canceling their performance after Trump won the election in November, but decided to honor their commitment.
“I grew up with a family that taught me that when you give a commitment, when you make a promise, when you sign a contract, you go through it,” he said. “I mean, I understand circumstances around it. But I don’t know if I have that type of integrity to break a contract on somebody, you know, in good faith.”
Forte said that the animosity directed at his band is partly because no bigger acts would agree to play Trump’s inauguration.
“I think that a lot of the tension is because there’s no entertainment there,” he said. “Because everybody else is gone, we went way, way up on the top of the list and all of a sudden, we became the bullet, the target.”
The Trump transition team has struggled to find big name acts to perform at the 2017 inauguration. Elton John, Andrea Bocelli and U.K. singers Charlotte Church and Rebecca Ferguson have all declined invitations to perform.
“Your staff have asked me to sing at your inauguration, a simple Internet search would show I think you’re a tyrant,” said Church on Twitter, followed by a string of “poop” emojis.