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As longtime locals on the “Real Jersey Shore” can tell you, a “Southside sighting” is as sure a signifier of holiday good times as anything in the seasonal section of your neighborhood megastore.

For years, this founding father of the Sound of Asbury Park has toasted the New Year and celebrated Independence Day through a series of annual high-profile concerts with the Asbury Jukes, the partystarting organization that he’s fronted for some 40 years. He’s even been known to take part in an all-star Christmas benefit or two, despite being playfully introduced by Bruce Springsteen as The Grinch.

When Southside Johnny Lyon visits Monmouth University on February 8, 2013 — somewhere between Groundhog Day and Washington’s Birthday if you’re keeping score — it will mark a rare non-holiday outing for the music legend whose full-length concerts remain “drop everything” destination events. To make the occasion even more momentous, this time it’s a junket undertaken without the Jukes.

For the 8 p.m. show at the Pollak Theatre, Lyon will be stepping out in front of The Poor Fools, the stripped-down, “free-wheeling bluegrass inflected folk rock experiment” that made its debut at the 2012 Light of Day concert in Asbury Park. A back-roads tour of the songs, singers and regional seasonings that helped spice up the S.O.A.P. soup, the Poor Fools project presents the veteran big-band ringmaster in an intriguing “no rules, no fences” setting that takes in “a wide range of music from Dylan, Mose Allison, Muddy Waters, NRBQ, Richard Thompson, Emmylou Harris, The Band, George Jones and more” — with excursions into Asbury Jukes territory; the classics as well as the deep-track grooves.

Described by Johnny as “a loose mix of songs, stories and banter between the musicians and — hopefully — the audience,” the concert features Lyon in a rare public appearance as guitar player, joined by a team of multi-instrumentalists that include Juke’s musicians and long time collaborators. Band members will be taking turns singing, switching off on instruments and  trying out new material, in a format that finds Southside “just lookin’ to have a good time. It’ll be a little side trip between the usual Asbury Jukes touring and our next recording.”

With The Poor Fools also hard at work on their own recorded debut, it’s another milestone marker for an artist who’s never shied away from investigating all aspects of his signature R&B sound — witness Grapefruit Moon, an album of Tom Waits interpretations that he recorded with La Bamba’s Big Band. The man with the famously acerbic sense of humor remains a genuine lover of music, and when Southside Johnny comes to campus this February, he’ll be opening up his big heart, and giving fans reason to declare an all new hootenanny of a holiday.

Tickets for this concert go on sale August 28. To purchase tickets please call the Monmouth University Box Office at 732-263-6889, or buy online at To schedule an interview, please contact Eileen Chapman at 732-571-3512.

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Media contact: Petra Ludwig at 732-263-5507