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Performing Arts: Gene Bertoncini, "Winter Heat," John Eddie
-- Sarah Halzack
He's a lowlife. He spent seven days in Vegas and he don't remember six. It's getting pretty old being young at heart. On the evidence of his crowd-pleasing late-night marathon at Jammin' Java on Saturday, Jersey bar-rocker John Eddie has an apparently bottomless catalogue of these teetering-on-the-edge-of-novelty tunes.
They come from three major-label albums (plus a few self-released efforts) cut since the mid-'80s. Back then, Columbia Records was behind him, believing -- stop us if you've heard this one before -- they had another Springsteen on their hands.
And how did that work out? Well, the 49-year-old troubadour's most recent album isn't really all that recent (2003), and more to the point, it's called "Who the Hell Is John Eddie?" The self-deprecating humor of its title was all over Eddie's affable, high-spirited gig, performed for the delight of a smallish but enthusiastic cult of true believers who tripped the light geriatric (well, getting there) while their weathered but indefatigable hero rocked the hits-that-never-were well into Sunday morning. He did take a 30-minute intermission (if you can call it that when the headliner sits at the bar among his public), but still played for better than two hours.)
With his country inflections and his wont to make every chorus a punch line, Eddie is more in the vein of Steve Earle or John Fogerty than the Boss. There are sharper funny-country writers out there -- Drive-By Truckers' Mike Cooley springs to mind. But if it's not quite a mystery why stardom eluded him, Eddie is still likable enough for a Saturday night, even if that closing cover of "Suspicious Minds," in which he jumped into the audience, was kind of embarrassing. Dude, that's not a wireless microphone.
-- Chris Klimek