The Bacon Brothers (yes, as in Kevin Bacon) to make rootsy, twangy Stanley Hotel debut – The Denver Post

When you’re in The Bacon Brothers, the challenge with each new album or tour is not letting people know who you are.

That’s been taken care of thanks to Kevin Bacon’s acting career (need we remind you of the dozens of movies and TV shows he’s been in?) and real-life brother Michael Bacon’s Emmy-winning, decades-long work as the composer of hundreds of songs for film and TV.

Rather, the challenge is letting audiences know they’ll be getting a straightforward music experience — intended to entertain and tug at the heart strings with rootsy, twangy, acoustic-driven songs that mostly ignore their singers’ otherwise bustling careers.

“Overall it’s just us and the songs, 99 percent of which are originals and 99 percent of which people have never heard before,” Michael said over the phone last week. “We don’t have a hit single from 25 years ago. We do have a movie star in the band. But how long is that going to last?”

Kevin, also on the line, chuckles at the gentle rib. His older brother (Michael is 68; Kevin is 59) has been doting on him since he was born. But even with eight albums under their belts, the brothers are still finding the ideal balance between deploying their celebrity and hunkering down like road-ready troubadours.

“I’m always kind of learning about that blend of giving people what they want and doing what we want,” Kevin said in advance of The Bacon Brothers’ June 15-16 shows at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. “As Michael pointed out, for most people this is new music, and that can be lot to absorb. If we wanted to just give people a really quote-unquote fun night out then we’d just play cover songs like ‘Twist & Shout’ and basically be a dance band. We’d tell funny stories and operate like a cabaret act or something. But that wouldn’t be creatively satisfying to us.”

Unlike most bands with famous actors, The Bacon Brothers have never come off as a vanity project. Kevin can actually sing and play, and his brother Michael has been making music professionally for nearly five decades. Since 1994, they’ve created a diverse but humble catalog of Americana under The Bacon Brothers moniker, ranging from barroom rockers and upbeat country-stomp to cello-driven compositions (Michael’s contribution) and introspective ballads.

But they’ve never had a summer schedule like this.

“We average about 40 dates per year, and this year we’re doing 40 shows just over the summer,” Michael said. “Everything is a little more condensed. We’ve never had the luxury of doing a lot of planning, but everything seems to be falling into place with this one. I made my first record in 1969 so this is not the first time I’ve been excited about a release or a tour, but this feels like the gods of the entertainment business are showing us a little love.”

That’s because the brothers are usually too busy to hit the road for long stretches of time. The showbiz-love Michael mentioned extends to the debut of the new album’s first single, “Tom Petty T-Shirt,” which the Brothers played on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” on April 26.

Kevin didn’t set out to write a song about one of his favorite (and now late) songwriters, but Petty was inescapably on the brain, he said.

“I just kind of take it as a metaphor for simple gestures, which are sometimes the best ones,” he said of the song’s “shirt off my back” theme. “Is that too treacly? Too weekend-shrink? I don’t know, but that’s the basic idea. It’s an acknowledgement that you care about somebody else, even if it’s in a lame gesture. I want to get in there and try and fix people, and maybe I don’t have the tools in my toolbox to do that.”

Musically he does. His group’s current setup includes a six-piece backing band (drums, bass and guitar, but also Hammond organ and harmonica), with Michael and Kevin sharing instruments and vocal duties throughout the night.

“It’s all original songs, some of which we’ve been playing for years and some of which we’ll be playing for first time that night,” Michael said of the shows.

“And we want to be challenged,” Kevin said. “We’re introducing a new interlude, a second set, for cello and sax and bass and guitar and harmonica. It’s full-on sheet music. We’re often switching up the set playing things we haven’t played in awhile, or bringing in new songs. Frankly, we get sick of playing the same things all the time and the band is up for the challenge, so why not?”

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