Nils Lofgren sings Springsteen's praises while putting out his own brand of music


Now that Bruce Springsteen has announced he'll have two new albums out this spring, it's worth wondering how the members of the now-discarded E St. Band took the news. Did they feel angry? Left out? Resentful?

Well, if guitarist Nils Lofgren is any indication, the answer is "None of the Above."

In fact, Lofgren -- who'll be opening for Little Feat Monday at the Towson Center -- couldn't be happier about the news. "I'm behind him completely," says Lofgren over the phone from his home near Silver Spring. "Personally, I think he's a great guitarist, and I think it's right that he's playing guitar on his own record.

"I've heard all the music, and it's great stuff, I'm glad he's finally putting it all out to share with everyone else."

If that seems remarkably magnanimous on Lofgren's part, it's worth remembering that he was Springsteen's friend long before he was his guitarist. Springsteen even made a cameo on Lofgren's last solo album, "Silver Lining."

"Bruce and I were friends since the early '70s," says Lofgren. "We've had a long history, from well before I ever joined the E Street band, and that continues. We've always really been pulling for each other. He's pretty much regularly played me this music as he's been making it over the last couple years, and it's great stuff. It's music that needs to be heard."

For the record, it should be noted that Springsteen isn't the only major-league rocker Lofgren has worked with over the years. At the tender age of 17, he was playing with Neil Young and Crazy Horse on "After the Gold Rush," and he maintains a working relationship with Young to this day. More recently, he joined the likes of Levon Helm, Joe Walsh and Dr. John in Ringo Starr's All Star Band.

Yet as much as the band names may change, Lofgren keeps finding himself in the same situation: The Youngest Guy In the Band. "When I was 16 here in D.C., I kept upgrading the bands I was in," he says. "It was a very traumatic experience, because I'd get in a good band, and then I'd keep getting better, and the guys that were two years older would ask me to quit and join fTC their band. As much as I dreaded the confrontation of quitting anything, the opportunity to be in the better band was irresistible. So but I kept being the young kid on the block.

"Now, at 40 years old now, in Ringo's All-Star Band I was the young kid on the block. I was the youngest guy in the E Street Band. Also, recently I've become a member of Neil Young's Stray Gators, and I'm the youngest guy in that band. I just get a kick out of that."

But Lofgren gets an even bigger kick out of doing his own music. Having spent most of the last year-and-a-half in what he describes as "a writing mode," he says he's itching to begin work on his next album.

"Yeah, I'm really excited," he says. "I have a lot of good stuff, and I'm going to be working with Eric Ambel as a producer. He was the guitarist in the Del-Lords, and I have a feeling that we're going to make a great record."

Listeners at this Sunday's Little Feat show can expect to hear some of Lofgren's new songs, but not quite as they'll appear on the album. "Basically, I'm just doing an acoustic set," he says. "I couldn't bring a full band, but my brother Tom and I will do a 45-minute acoustic set -- just guitars and a couple keyboards."

Nils Lofgren

When: Monday, Feb. 3, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Towson Center, Towson State University.

Tickets: $21.50, $18.50, $16, $10; no service charge at box office.

Call: (410) 830-2244 for information, (410) 481-6000 for tickets.

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