Austin Reggae Festival Memories: The Year that Springsteen Was Part of the Crowd

April 19th, 2012 § 0 comments

Hugh Forrest

by Hugh Forrest, Austin Reggae Festival co-Promoter

Over the 19 years that I have worked with the event, I have enjoyed lots of amazing memories from the Austin Reggae Festival. But the one that probably sticks out most in my mind most occurred in 2000, when Bruce Springsteen was rumored to have made been part of the crowd enjoying the rasta at Auditorium Shores.

I learned of Springsteen’s attendance because a friend of mine who was working the front gate late in the afternoon. This friend reported that a person matching his description (dark hair, blue jeans, not too tall) paid entry fees to the event at about 5:00 pm that day. This person wore a baseball cap low over his eyes in a manner that suggested he didn’t want to draw too much attention to himself.

Bruce was performing at the Erwin Center on the Monday evening immediately after the event — so it makes sense that he was in town on Sunday. To this end, he and the rest of the E-Street Band were most likely staying at the Four Seasons Hotel, which would have made it a quick walk for him to check out the music and merriment just across the river at the Austin Reggae Festival.

Moreover, Springsteen has always been a huge supporter of local food collection services. He traditionally makes it a point to talk about the importance of feeding the hungry during his concerts — and he invites volunteers from these local agencies to collect donations from patrons as they are leaving the show. Finally, if you have ever visited the Capital Area Food Bank offices on South Congress, you can’t miss the signed “Born in the USA” poster from the Boss in the lobby.

Still . . . I will never be completely sure if that was really Bruce at the Austin Reggae Festival in 2000 — or just someone else who looked a lot like him. And, this lack of certainty is a good thing. The bottom line is that it doesn’t really matter who it was, because everyone attending the event is a hero and a celebrity and a rock star. Indeed, the great thing about this event is that it unites so many different kinds of people at one place at one time for one great cause. Young and old, black and white yuppies and hippies — the Austin Reggae Festival proves again and again that amazing things can be accomplished when so many people come together in peace and harmony to help the less fortunate in our society.

Join us April 20-22 at Auditorium Shores and you can be the Bruce Springsteen of the 2012 Austin Reggae Festival!

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