Southside Johnny is coming to the South Fork this summer.
New Jersey’s own Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes will headline back-to-back drive-in concerts for the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on July 25 at 7 and 9:30 p.m., rain or shine. The event will serve as a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization.
“Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes is the ultimate party band — so dynamic, fun and legendary — and will bring the joy that people really need right now,” says PAC executive director Julienne Penza-Boone. “We’re hoping that we bring positivity and continue to fulfill our mission while also giving our patrons the opportunity to feel good about supporting the performing arts at this critical juncture.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the concert will be held on the Great Lawn, located at 35 Main St. in Westhampton Beach, just down the street from the Performing Arts Center, holding 160 cars per performance. Each vehicle will be socially distanced 9 feet apart.
Drive-in shows have become the new viable live music format and something the Jukes have embraced head-on.
“I’m looking forward to the adventure — this is a fun challenge. We like that because it brings out something extra,” says "Southside Johnny" Lyon, 71. “We’ve done so many crazy shows and just about anything you can think of — weddings, divorces, we do everything.”
Each Jukes gig offers a different set list as Southside likes to call the songs out on stage.
“Typically, we go with the way people are feeling at the moment,” says Lyon. “If they are giddy and happy, we will play giddy and happy songs. If they are somber and down, we’ll still play giddy and happy songs.”
However, at either show expect to hear hits such as “I Don’t Want to Go Home,” “Havin’ a Party,” “Love on the Wrong Side of Town,” “Better Days” and “The Fever.”
“It’s not a hardship to play those songs,” says Lyon. “I never get tired of them because they get such a great reaction.”
Southside has a reputation for bringing the party atmosphere wherever he goes for the past 45 years.
“Our goal is to please people by playing our hearts out. The message is let yourself go and have fun,” says Lyon. “We’re not trying to impress anybody, we just want people to enjoy themselves.”
Bathroom trailers will be available on site and concessions will be provided by three food trucks, plus local restaurants are planning to deliver food directly to the cars. All attendees must wear a mask while outside of their vehicles.
“We are recommending that people stay in their cars during both shows,” says communications manager Heather Draskin. “Putting a lawn chair outside your car is yet to be determined in accordance with state guidelines. But, if things change and social distancing is relaxed that might be a possibility.”
Tickets for both shows, which range from $225 to $275 per car, will go on presale Friday, June 19, at noon at whbpac.org for donors (who have given $100 or more) and Wednesday, June 24, at noon for the public. Concertgoers can also call 631-288-1500 to purchase tickets. All proceeds go to the Westhampton Beach PAC, which brings performing arts, music, dance, comedy and cinema to the East End.