Asbury Park Article


Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 06/17/07
Jon Bon Jovi frequently shows interest in local musicians, both the veterans he looked up to when he was starting out as well as the up-and-coming ones currently on the scene.

He and his bandmates recorded this year with Lance Larson, a stalwart on the Asbury Park scene and the man who revived the Wonder Bar. Jon Bon Jovi sings the second verse on "Angels With Broken Wings," a track on Larson's "Song for the Soldier" album, due for release in August.

"Jon has always been supportive of me," said Larson, noting that Bon Jovi & the Wild Ones used to open for Lord Gunner, Larson's band. "Finally, I come back after all these years, and so Jon said, "Just let me know, anything I can do to help, I'll do it.' "

Bon Jovi's interest in Bobby Bandiera no doubt stemmed from his enthusiasm for Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, for which Bandiera is a guitarist.

"Jon always admired Southside," Bobby Bandiera said. "He used to come and see Southside all the time. Southside was one of Jon's biggest influences. In fact, he had a band, the Atlantic City Expressway, which had horns. They did all Jukes songs way back when."

Singer/songwriter Lisa Bouchelle also has witnessed Bon Jovi's respect for the Jukes.

"I've seen him watching Southside Johnny, going "It's Johnny time!' and he's a fan, he's a real person," Bouchelle said.

Bouchelle, 24, met Bon Jovi at an event for the Philly Soul at the Borgata in Atlantic City, and he took an interest in her music, eventually inviting her to mix her album at his home studio in Middletown.

"It was memorable," she said. "It's really homey in there, just a really cool experience."

Bouchelle said she considers Bon Jovi a role model and an inspiration. She admires him for his work ethic, his business acumen, his aesthetic sense and his commitment to both his family and career.

"If I move on and have a family, I want to keep them grounded, and I respect the way that Jon has been able to have a family life that's not impeded by his work," she said. "He pays attention to so much detail. He even works from vacation, giving comment on things, and he takes pride in even the little things. And all the work he does for charities. That's how I would want to be, if I ever got to that level."

Even Bandiera, a seasoned professional, was awed by the phenomenon that is Bon Jovi.

"I remember walking into the arena to play the first show, not seeing any plans, but just from hearing people talk about what the stage set looked like," Bandiera said. "When I walked in and saw the size of the show itself, let alone the song list that we learned to put the show together, it was kind of overwhelming. But at the same time, it was more exciting than it was overwhelming. I thought, "I'm part of this. I'm going to be part of making this happen.' "

Staff Writer Mark Voger contributed to this story.