Springsteen guitarist Nils Lofgren talks of coming home

Nils Lofgren grew up in Garrett Park, Md. after his family moved from Chicago in 1959. (Courtesy Nils Lofgren Facebook page)

WASHINGTON – When Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band rock out at National’s Park on Friday, it will be something of a homecoming for guitarist Nils Lofgren, who grew up in the D.C. area.

“I’m gonna stay a few extra days and see my brothers and my mom,” says Lofgren, whose family moved to Garrett Park, Md. in 1959. He grew up in Montgomery County.

Lofgren, 61, and the band will play before a sold-out audience on Sept. 14 as part of the “Wrecking Ball World Tour,” and he says he’s excited to play before the D.C. crowd.

“My band, Grin, my first professional band, cut our teeth there on the D.C. scene before we headed out to L.A.,” he says. “It’s always great to come back to the D.C. area.”

Lofgren says the tour won’t disappoint. The shows regularly exceed three hours and feature the most improv the band has ever done.

“We’ve always changed the set list and done a unique show every night, but the improv stuff is pretty much off the charts. Bruce is pulling songs from the audience. We’re playing songs we’ve never played in our lives together. It’s fun. It’s very challenging,” he says.

Lofgren says the band is the biggest it’s ever been, 18 pieces strong, with a great horn section and added singers.

“It’s an enormous, kind of, soul review, if you will,” he says. “Featuring anything and everything from the early days to the new album Bruce put out.”

Despite the size of the band, it’s still missing Clarence Clemons, the prominent E Street saxophonist who died last year of complications from a major stroke.

“I miss Clarence terribly,” he says.

Lofgren has been with the band for 28 years and says he just finished his 44th year on the road, “I’ve been a performer for four and a half decades. It’s what I love to do.”

After many years on the road, he isn’t as excited by the idea of traveling as he used to be, but that makes him focus on the show differently, he says.

“I found a new level of appreciation for the live performance,” he says. “I’ve got a great wife and four dogs and I don’t like leaving home anymore, so that makes me more inspired and excited for the opportunity to come out and play.”

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