West Side Stories: A New Day

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Subscribe

WEST SIDE STORIES

This true story by Jeff Hensen was recorded live on Wednesday, Jan. 2 at Sonoma Portworks in Petaluma as part of the monthly West Side Stories “story slam” competition hosted by Dave Pokorny. Each month, storytellers are randomly selected from the audience to tell short true tales based a theme. This month’s theme was “A New Day,” and the audience voted on their favorites, resulting in a tie between Hensen and John Mattern, whose story follows this one. The next West Side Stories show will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 6:30 p.m. The theme will be “Faith.” For more information visit westsidestoriespetaluma.com.

(Recorded on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019 at Sonoma Portworks)

I was the front man for my high school rock ‘n roll garage band, the Boss Brothers.

Dreaming of becoming the next Bruce Springsteen, rocking the arena, my band toured the greater Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. We even created an original song.

It sold 19 copies.

And I gave up my dream of becoming the next Bruce Springsteen, rocking the arena. I wasn’t going to be rocking any arenas.

Fifteen years later, Bruce Springsteen reunites with his original band, the E Street Band. And they announce a reunion tour. Now, I have to get tickets. They announce a show at the Oakland arena, Dec. 15, 1999. So I rush to get tickets.

And it’s sold out!

They announce a new date, a second show. I rush to get tickets.

Sold out.

They announce a third date.

I get tickets!

Third deck, last row. It’ll be great. It’s Bruce Springsteen. It’ll be a great concert.

So, I pick up my date, and we climb the three sets of stairs to the third deck, we go down the concourse and we get to my seat section. Just before we turn into my seat section, this surfer dude stops me.

“Hey man, want to trade tickets?”

“I have terrible seats. You don’t want my tickets.”

“No, no, no. Let’s trade. You’ll get better seats.”

Well, any seat would be better than mine.

“Whatcha got?”

“Front row center.”

[Sigh] “How much?”

“Just give me your tickets, and we’ll trade.”

At that moment, another couple walks up, and says, “Are you doing upgrades? Because if you are, we want some.”

“I just promised my last pair to this guy. We’re trading, right?”

“Front row? [long pause] Okay.”

I give him my tickets. He immediately walks away, with my tickets and his tickets. He says, “Hey, follow me. We have to take a special entrance.” So I grab my date, and I follow him down this dark hallway, to a service elevator. He gets in the elevator, and he says, “Come on.” I grab my date, and we get in the elevator, and he pushes the button for the basement. And my date looks over at me, and I get this sinking feeling, as we descend into the bowels of the Oakland Arena.

I think, “Okay, this must be where we get mugged.”

The doors open [makes a swoosh sound], and there’s a security guard there, who lets the surfer dude pass. “Come on,” he says. “Follow me.”

And we’re in this underground party, and I see security tags and guitars, and surfer dude is making his way to the other side, where there is another security guard, who lets him pass.

“Come on, follow me!”

Now he opens a door, and now we’re in this tunnel, and it’s dark, and there’s this scaffolding, and it’s strange.

And he says, “We’re under the stage.”

We make our way to the other side, and he pulls back a curtain, and I step up and see the entire Oakland Arena there before me. And surfer dude says, “This is Stevie Van Zandt, the guitarist’s microphone. This is Bruce Springsteen’s microphone. And here are your seats. Oh, and this man right here, this is Bruce’s personal bodyguard, Benny. If you need anything, just let him know.”

And he walks away.

“What? How?”

I turn to Benny, and go, “What gives?”

And Benny says, “Oh, this is the last show before Christmas. Bruce Springsteen bought the first two rows. He doesn’t want corporate sponsors putting their VIPs in these seats. He wants these seats to go to true fans who’d come even if they had terrible seats.”

Everybody in the first two rows is so happy! We’re high-fiving each other. Bruce Springsteen comes out and just rocks the place. He pours his passion onto the audience. It’s a great show. And near the end of the last song, the other people in the first row start reaching onto the stage, for something. And I don’t know what they’re reaching for. And I look up at Bruce Springsteen, and he says, “Oh, they want this!”

And he hands me a piece of paper. And it’s the set list of the songs for that night, in Bruce Springsteen’s handwriting, one copy for each musician. And when he hands it to me, I feel like a musician again.

And I finally know what it’s like to be Bruce Springsteen, rocking the arena.

WEST SIDE STORIES

This true story by Jeff Hensen was recorded live on Wednesday, Jan. 2 at Sonoma Portworks in Petaluma as part of the monthly West Side Stories “story slam” competition hosted by Dave Pokorny. Each month, storytellers are randomly selected from the audience to tell short true tales based a theme. This month’s theme was “A New Day,” and the audience voted on their favorites, resulting in a tie between Hensen and John Mattern, whose story follows this one. The next West Side Stories show will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 6:30 p.m. The theme will be “Faith.” For more information visit westsidestoriespetaluma.com.

Show Comment

Our Network

Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine