Little Steven Van Zandt has been a long-time advocate of The Rascals (originally known as The Young Rascals), and now he’s trying to get fans to help him fund a reunion of the original lineup — keyboardist/singer Felix Cavaliere, singer Eddie Brigati, guitarist Gene Cornish and drummer Dino Danelli. They have not performed in over four decades, save for a few invite-only events, including their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, and a private fundraiser in 2010.

Van Zandt is hoping to raise $100,000 on Kickstarter within the next 30 days. The E Street Band guitarist posted a video to his Kickstarter page. In it, he says that The Rascals are “one of the greatest and most important bands in history,” and pointed out their role in the Civil Rights movement — they were one of the first white groups to demand to be able to be on the same concert bills as African-Ameican groups. They were also one of the few white acts to land songs on the black music charts.

The reunion isn’t simply for a concert: Van Zandt has written a stage production for the group, called Once Upon A Dream. As he explains it, the show will be a multi-media event, combining film with a Broadway-like stage production, and a performance by the reunited band. It’s the brainchild of Van Zandt and legendary lighting director Marc Brickman, who was Bruce Springsteen’s original lighting designer, and who has gone on to work for Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd and the Olympics. Van Zandt says, “Me and Mark have invested our time, money and blood, now we need you to bring it home.”  He adds that Peter Shapiro, who financed the restoration of Port Chester, New York’s historic Capitol Theater, has also backed the production, and that the show will take place at the Capitol (the first performance is scheduled for December 13).

Van Zandt and his team have put together some interesting incentives to get people to donate at different price levels: a $1 donation gets you an audio download of an interview that Van Zandt and rock critic Dave Marsh did with the members of the band; $5000 gets you two tickets for opening week of the show, a meet and greet with Van Zandt and the band before the show, and dinner with them after.

A $100 “Dreamer” pledge will get your name and face projected onto the stage, along with ’60s icons like Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, before the curtain raises on the show. For the $150 “Lover’s Pledge,” a photo of you and your significant other will be projected onto the screen during the Rascals’ encore.

Kickstarter is a crowd-funding website that allows creators to ask the public to help fund projects including films, music, stage shows, video games and more.  As of this writing, Van Zandt has raised over $13,000 in less than 24 hours.

Van Zandt is a longtime fan of the Rascals: Dino Dinelli played drums in his band Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul in the ’80s.  And after campaigning for them to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he presented them at their 1997 induction.  His speech was so entertaining and dramatic that Sopranos creator David Chase contacted him days after the ceremony was broadcast and offered him the role of “Silvio Dante,” despite the fact that he had no acting experience.

Follow the progress of Van Zandt’s fundraising efforts at Kickstarter or at his Facebook page.

Brian Ives, CBS Local


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