By Chris Jordan, Asbury Park Press
Original article from App. can be found here
Calling Tommy and Gina.
When a group of Chicagoans wanted to unify the city with a city-wide sing-along from their window as a way of showing solidarity while Illinois is in a “stay at home” order due to the coronavirus outbreak, Bon Jovi's “Livin’ on a Prayer” was the song they chose.
“The song has this ability to make people come together,” said Jenni Spinner, an organizer of the sing-along.
Dozens of videos of the sing-along were posted. Chicago became intimately familiar with the story of Tommy and Gina, a hardscrabble couple with little but a prayer to hold them forth.
In the hours before the sing-along, two related events happened. Bon Jovi frontman Jon Bon Jovi expressed support for the sing-along and Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan revealed that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, COVID-19.
Bon Jovi has become the rock 'n' roll epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. No band has stirred more empathy, articulated the feelings of uncertainty, and comforted fans with reassurance than the Jersey rockers in the first weeks of the outbreak.
“These are trying times we're going through, uncharted territory, the great unknown,” said Jon Bon Jovi on a Sunday, March 22, social media posting. “But one thing is for sure, we're going to make it through.”
Bon Jovi is the right band for the moment, fans say.
“It’s because they've always been there,” said fan Lori Franchini O'Leary, 47, of East Brunswick. “They never left no matter what year it is. They’ve always had some type of a song, some type of an album or tour for a connection with the fans. They never really left.”
The first member of the band to be affected by the outbreak was Bryan, who had his new musical, “Diana,” postponed March 12 on Broadway, as were all Broadway shows.
Then, Jon Bon Jovi and sons Jesse Bongiovi and Jake Bongiovi were shown group dancing to Doja Cat's “Say So” on the banks of the Navesink River at his home in Middletown in a March 14 video called “Quarantine Choreography” posted to the Hampton Water TikTok account and shared on a Hampton Water Instagram story.
Hampton Water is the name of the rosé sold by Jon Bon Jovi, Jesse Bongiovi and French winemaker Gérard Bertrand. The video was a fun diversion, but it certainly didn't convey the gravity of what was to come.
“I was watching that, and I was, 'What did I just watch?' " said Franchini O'Leary.
The next post, on Thursday, March 19, had a very different tone. A picture of Jon Bon Jovi, in short sleeves, washing dishes at the Soul Kitchen community restaurant in Red Bank, which he founded with his wife Dorothea Bongiovi. The Soul Kitchen restaurant is now closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, but takeout is still available for those who need it.
“If you can't do what you do ... do what you can,” commented Bon Jovi on the post.
The picture went viral.
“I thought it was very humbling,” Franchini O'Leary said. “He doesn’t just say it, he’s really actually doing it. He's totally in the present all the time. He doesn’t have people or a crew, he’s actually involved.”
The rocker has built a long resume of philanthropic and political endeavors. He served on President Obama's White House Council for Community Solutions and worked with Gov. Chris Christie on superstorm Sandy relief for Jersey, including his hometown of Sayreville. His JBJ Soul Foundation teamed with Help USA to build 51 units of affordable housing in Newark in 2008. Fifteen of the units were dedicated solely for HIV/AIDS patients.
He and Dorothea Bongiovi recently opened a Soul Kitchen on the campus of Rutgers-Newark University. It's the third Soul Kitchen location, in addition to Red Bank and Toms River. Diners pay what they can.
“Jon has been very active as a philanthropist for many, many years, and I think people know that and certainly his fans know it,” said Tony Pallagrosi, a former member of the Asbury Jukes and a Jersey Shore-based music promoter. “I think it’s a natural for him to be out in front in a situation like this. It doesn‘t surprise me.”
The appeal of Bon Jovi in this moment is partly due to the fact that Jon Bon Jovi has been a good citizen, Spinner said.
“In the Me Too era, every other day we’re finding out about somebody we’ve looked up to forever who ends up being a racist, or a Trump supporter, or a rapist or there's something about him that turns you off,” Spinner said.
“Jon Bon Jovi’s been married forever. He’s putting his money where other people's mouths are and he’s been doing good stuff and he’s been doing it for while. Not only is he not a Me Too disappointment, he’s actually doing really good stuff.”
Jon Bon Jovi and Bryan, who's also a Tony Award-winning Broadway composer, are imparting positive messages during the outbreak.
“I’ve been sick for a week and feeling better each day,” Bryan said on Saturday, March 21. His wife, Lexi Quaas, also has it. “Please don’t be afraid!!! It’s the flu not the plague. I’ve have been quarantined for a week and will for another week. And when I feel better I’ll get tested again to make sure I’m free of this nasty virus. Please help out each other. This will be over soon... with the help of every American!!”
Bon Jovi asked fans for help writing a verse of a new song, “Do What You Can,” that was partially premiered on the evening of Sunday, March 22, on Bon Jovi's social media sites. Fans were asked to video themselves singing their verse, then post it to the Bon Jovi social media sites with the #DoWhatYouCan hashtag.
“Here's my idea. We write this one together. I'm going to give you the chorus. I'm going to give you the first verse. I'm going to play the second verse, but you tell me your story,” Bon Jovi said. “Tell me what you're going through. Tell me how you're feeling. Tell me if you're hurting. Talk about that high school graduation that's going to be canceled, talk about that prom you just might not have, talk about that baby coming there's nothing you can do about that. Talk about the paycheck that you're losing. Talk about being afraid, looking out your window and wondering what to make about all of this.
“Just remember, we're going to get through it.”
Jon Bon Jovi also appears in a video for First Lady Tammy Murphy's New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund that will assist state organizations in getting resources to vulnerable communities across the state. Bruce Springsteen, Jon Stewart, Danny DeVito, Whoopi Goldberg and Charlie Puth are also in the video, which was released on the morning on Tuesday, March 24.
“I think it's wonderful that Johnny is reaching out to lift people,” said Peter Mantas, who grew up with Jon Bon Jovi in Sayreville and spent many years working with the band. “We got each other, and that's a lot!”
Bon Jovi is scheduled to release the new album, “2020,” on May 15. The band has announced that a U.S. “Bon Jovi 2020 Tour” is scheduled to play the Prudential Center in Newark on July 14. The tour, which begins June 10 in Tacoma, Washington, also includes two shows, July 27 and 28, at Madison Square Garden, which will close the 18-date trip.
The new album promises to be more about topical subjects, the band has said.
“They have families, kids who are in their 20s, and they’re looking at what’s around them,” Franchini O'Leary said. “They're writing about what's currently around them, and it’s soldiers, it’s homelessness, it’s building homes. It's people who are less fortunate and they writing about in their songs.”
Jon Bon Jovi has his guitar at the ready.
“I'm just warming up getting ready to sing along with you. In these trying times, I am with you with all of my heart and my soul,” said Bon Jovi on Instagram prior to the Chicago sing-along. “Sing it out, baby. We're all going to come through this together.”
Original article from App. can be found here