Photo credit: Paul La Raia
The Bacon Brothers, from left, Kevin and Michael Bacon.
Keanu Reeves, Kevin Costner, Billy Bob Thornton, Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix are among the growing number of successful actors who have also pursued secondary careers playing music.
But none of those film stars has enjoyed the well-deserved critical praise for their music that has greeted the Bacon Brothers, the group featuring acclaimed actor Kevin Bacon and his older brother, Emmy Award-winning composer Michael Bacon.
The Bacon Brothers have just released "New Year's Day," the siblings' sixth album. The duo will feature songs from that release in a headlining show at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Nov. 21.
From the infectious countryfied power pop of "Tell Me What I Have To Do" and authentic reggae-fueled "Bunch Of Words" to the lush melodic rock of "Architeuthis" and rocking title track, "New Year's Day" is an album that captures the brothers' collective talents as singers, songwriters and musicians.
"Every time I record something, I think that's the last one (song); the (tap) has been turned off. But the songs have kind of just kept coming," Kevin Bacon said in a recent phone interview. "I feel really good about the songs."
Michael and Kevin Bacon were raised in Philadelphia, so it's not surprising that soul is a part of their sound. As evidenced by the tracks on "New Year's Day" and 2005's "White Knuckles," country, folk, reggae, funk and an increasing number of other styles fit into a sonic brew that sounds both classic and contemporary.
"In some ways, this album feels a little bit more cohesive than the last one," said Kevin Bacon, a gifted actor whose range of eclectic performances have been featured in well-known movies including "Apollo 13," "JFK," "Footloose," "The Woodsman," "Tremors" and "A Few Good Men." His real-life role in the Bacon Brothers finds him sharing lead vocal duties with his brother. Both Bacons play guitar, while Kevin also plays harmonica and Michael plays cello.
The Bacon Brothers' top-notch band features Paul Guzzone (bass, guitar), Ira Siegel (guitar, mandolin), Frank Vilardi (drums, percussion) and Charlie Giordano (keyboards, accordion, melodica).
Michael Bacon, whose professional music career began in the late 1960s as a member of the Philadelphia band Good News, said the brothers share a life-long bond of making music together.
"Kevin was probably still in diapers. I don't ever remember a time where I didn't think it was a really good idea for us to play music together," said Michael Bacon during the interview, noting he bought Kevin his first guitar when he was young and taught him how to play his first song, the Beatles' "Hey Jude."
When the Bacon Brothers released their debut "Forosoco" in 1997, it was common for music writers to cover the group only because Kevin Bacon was a member. Today, the focus is usually on the depth and range of songs that the brothers play.
"If you want something, you have to work long and hard for it. We certainly didn't expect any shortcuts (because of his fame)," Kevin Bacon said.
Many local musicians will relate to Kevin's story about some of the Bacon Brothers' early shows.
"We were moving our own gear in Michael's station wagon," Kevin said.
"For one thing, it sort of keeps you about (realizing) how difficult this thing is. And I think people appreciate that you are not that (conceited) because of the movie star thing."
Both brothers said their primary objective when they play the Coach House is to put on a great concert.
"The most important thing is to have a great live show because you cannot digitize, you cannot download a live show," Michael noted.