Anyone who has spent time around professional musicians is aware that many of these folks must also work a “day job,” one that pays the bills while they maintain their artistic endeavors. Hence the large number musos who toil as waiters, cashiers and Uber drivers.
Such is the case with the Bacon Brothers, but with these guys, it’s a little different. Brother Kevin is a noted actor (Footloose, Tremors, A Few Good Men), director, and producer, while brother Michael is an award-winning film composer and an associate professor of music at Lehman College, part of the City University of New York. But whenever they can carve out some time, they make records and log miles on the road under the Bacon Brothers banner.
Illustrative of this situation, an interview with the brothers is accomplished via a conference call, with Kevin on the West Coast and Michael on the East, along with a PR person wrangling the whole thing. The guys are busy taking care of various responsibilities before embarking on a brief Texas tour that includes a stop at the Dosey Doe this Saturday.
The siblings grew up in Philadelphia (along with four sisters), in a home where creative pursuits were encouraged. “We started writing songs together when Kevin was young, 11 or 12,” Michael, the older brother, recalls. “It started with Kevin singing words to a melody, and then I would put the chords under it.” And it seems that this was not a case of Michael humoring his kid brother. “I can tell – within a few notes, a few seconds - if someone has talent or not,” he says. “It’s a blessing and a curse.”
Over time, the brothers began to view their collaboration in commercial terms. “We started writing songs as a get rich quick scheme, hoping that someone like Michael Jackson would record one of them, or maybe we could get a song in one of Kevin’s films,” Michael says. “That didn’t happen, and then we started writing more about our feelings and values.”
As their respective careers progressed and flourished, the brothers continued to make music together, albeit on an informal basis. How did they decide to take it pro? “It’s an overused word, but it really came together organically,” Kevin says. “A friend of ours asked us if we wanted to come down to Philadelphia to play a show. So we put some songs together and got a couple of friends of Michael’s to play with us in sort of an acoustic super group.”
That was 25 years ago. Since then, the Bacon Brothers band has turned into a remarkably successful joint venture, producing 11 albums, including the recent five song EP Erato, named after one of the Greek muses, the goddess of erotic poetry. Like their previous albums, this Bacon Brothers release features songs exhibiting a rootsy mix of rock, folk, country, and soul influences.
Due to the constraints imposed by time and space, the Bacons and their musical collaborators assembled much of the collection remotely, sharing audio files via the internet. There are certainly minuses to this approach, but Kevin points out that there are pluses as well. While there is an energy that comes from all of the musicians recording together in a studio, working at home has its advantages. “Studios are expensive,” he notes, “and sometimes that environment produces stress.” When recording at home, the meter isn’t running, nor are a bunch of people waiting for someone to nail a take.
The dynamic of brothers in bands is a fraught one, illustrated by the pairings of Ray and Dave Davies in the Kinks, Liam and Noel Gallagher in Oasis, Chris and Rich Robinson in the Black Crowes, and Phil and Don Everly in the Everly Brothers. Fist fights, shit talking in the press, and even onstage altercations involving broken instruments. Any tough moments for the Bacons? “It’s such a shame,” Michael says, “You hear those stories, but I don’t get it. With a sibling, there is trust.” The high regard that the brothers have for one another is evident, as when Kevin details Michael’s resume. The older brother may not be as well known, but his career is an enviable one.
Michael has written music for a number of documentaries, including films chronicling the lives of Gloria Steinem, Harry Truman, Napoleon and Buddha. One of the television projects that Michael has worked on is the PBS series Finding Your Roots, which led to an episode featuring Kevin and his wife, actress Kyra Sedgwick. In that installment, their respective lineages were traced back to the Revolutionary War era. Another informational nugget that emerged was the fact that the spouses are, in fact, cousins. Ninth cousins. And once removed. So it’s nothing weird. Really.
And finally, what’s the deal with Kevin and the goats? The brothers chuckle, Michael maybe a bit more than Kevin. Over the past couple of years, Kevin has posted a number of videos depicting him serenading attentive goats on his farm in Connecticut. “I bought some goats for my wife for our anniversary,” Kevin says. (Among them is a goat named Makin’ Bacon.) “And I had this instrument that Jimmy Fallon gave me,” he continues, “so I started playing ‘Norwegian Wood’ for them.”
Evidently, there is a strong bond between Kevin and his four-legged friends. “They’re strangely comforting,” he said in an AP interview. “And I feel really mellow when I’m around them. Maybe I’m crazy, but they seem to sort of like it when I’m playing. So then I started thinking, ‘Well maybe I should start thinking of songs that goats might like.’”
Most recently, he covered the song “Heated,” originally recorded by Beyonce. Other songs in Kevin’s goat-pleasing repertoire include the Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry, Baby,” Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” and Taylor Swift’s “I Bet You Think About Me.” Considering that he will be playing in the Dosey Doe’s Big Barn on Saturday, Kevin should feel right at home.
The Bacon Brothers will play the Dosey Doe Big Barn Saturday, September 10 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $128 to $198 and include a three-course dinner prior to the concert. No word on whether a special ticket package is available for goats.
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