The Sessions Band (also called The Seeger Sessions Band) has been Bruce Springsteen's backing band intermittently since 1997.
The Sessions Band was first formed in October 1997. That September, Springsteen had organized a fiesta-themed party at his Colts Neck, New Jersey farm and invited the New York-based band The Gotham Playboys to provide entertainment. The next month, Springsteen was invited to donate a recording to an upcoming tribute album to folk singer Pete Seeger. He re-contacted the Playboys and some additional musicians whom he knew through E Street Band violinist Soozie Tyrell, and recorded a number of songs on November 2, 1997. These included "We Shall Overcome", which was released on the 1998 tribute album, Where Have All The Flowers Gone: The Songs Of Pete Seeger.
The group was then disbanded for an extended period. In late 2004, while reviewing material for a possible follow-up to his Tracks box set, Springsteen stumbled upon these recordings and decided to release them as a stand-alone project. There was not enough material, however, so he reformed the band for what would become known as the Second Seeger Session on March 19, 2005. The third and, so far, final Seeger Session took place on January 21, 2006.
On April 25, 2006, the album was released as We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (so titled as each of the album's thirteen songs had been previously recorded or performed by Pete Seeger). The subsequent Bruce Springsteen with The Seeger Sessions Band Tour took this musical approach even further, with a travelling group partly composed of musicians from the sessions. On October 3, 2006, the album was reissued as We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions - American Land Edition with five additional tracks. The album won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album at the 49th Grammy Awards held in February 2007, and had sold 700,000 copies in the United States by January 2009; the RIAA certified it with gold record status.
Members of the Sessions Band occasionally guested on Springsteen and the E Street Band's 2007–2008 Magic Tour. After E Street Band organist Danny Federici ceased touring with the band due to melanoma in November 2007, and his subsequent death in April 2008, Sessions Band member Charles Giordano joined the E Street Band for the remainder of the Magic Tour and has been with the band ever since.
On Springsteen's 2009 Working on a Dream Tour with the E Street Band, Giordano was joined in the touring band by Sessions Band members Cindy Mizelle and Curtis King, who sang backup vocals. Curt Ramm also toured with the E Street Band for much of the final leg of the tour, playing trumpet on select songs. On Springsteen's 2012 Wrecking Ball Tour, Giordano, Mizelle, and King were joined in full-time roles by Ramm on trumpet, Ed Manion on saxophone, and Clark Gayton on trombone. Other members of the band occasionally guested at shows on the Working on a Dream Tour. Sam Bardfeld along with a string section that he fronted, appeared at a few shows on Springsteen's The River Tour 2016. Springsteen has indicated he would like to do another project with the Sessions Band in the future.
On May 16, 2015, Springsteen reunited with a version of the Sessions Band for a four-song set at the Kristen Ann Carr Fund's "A Night To Remember" event in tribute to Thom Zimny at Tribeca Grill in New York City. The band, billed for the evening as the Tribeca Playboys, consisted of Charles Giordano on accordion, Jeremy Chatzky on upright bass, Larry Eagle on drums, Sam Bardfeld and Soozie Tyrell on fiddle, Lisa Lowell on vocals and guitar, Ed Manion on saxophone, and Curt Ramm on trumpet; the group was also joined by guests Nils Lofgren on guitar, Curtis King on vocals, and restaurateur and venue host Drew Nieporent on washboard.
Band Members Edit
Seeger Sessions Studio Band Edit
- Frank Bruno (guitar)
- Jeremy Chatzky (bass)
- Larry Eagle (drums)
- Charles Giordano (accordion, keyboards)
- Sam Bardfeld (violin)
- Soozie Tyrell (violin)
- Mark Clifford (banjo)
- Ed Manion (sax)
- Richie "La Bamba" Rosenberg (trombone)
- Patti Scialfa (vocals)
- Mark Pender (trumpet) – not present for the first Seeger Session
- Lisa Lowell (vocals) – not present for the first and second Seeger Sessions
Sessions Band (touring band) Edit
All of the above-noted musicians performed live on the 2006 Seeger Session tour. However the tour was organized rather quickly and some of the Studio Band members had prior commitments that prevented them for performing at all shows on the tour. Mark Clifford performed during some of the early tour rehearsals and at one show on the first USA leg - his replacement was Greg Liszt. Richie Rosenberg performed on the USA tour leg - his replacement on the European tour legs was Clark Gayton. Mark Pender performed on the USA Tour leg - his replacement on the European Tour legs was Curt Ramm. The following musicians were part of the 2006 Touring Band but were not part of the Seeger Sessions Studio Band that recorded the album in November 1997, March 2005 and January 2006:
- Art Baron (tuba)
- Greg Liszt (banjo)
- Clark Gayton (trombone)
- Curt Ramm (trumpet)
- Marty Rifkin (pedal steel guitar)
- Marc Anthony Thompson (vocals)
- Curtis King Jr. (vocals)
- Cindy Mizelle (vocals)
Tours with Bruce Springsteen Edit
- The Seeger Sessions Tour
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