What was once a minor side project for a pair of successful performers has evolved over the last two decades into a formidable force in contemporary rock. Consisting of actor Kevin Bacon and award-winning composer Michael Bacon, The Bacon Brothers now have seven studio albums, a handful of hit singles, and hundreds of performances under their belts. What is perhaps most surprising is that the band began on a lark.
“About 22 years ago, we got this weird offer to go down to Philadelphia and play in a club that a friend of ours was running, and so we kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Why not?’” explains elder brother Michael. “So, we cobbled together a set —some covers and some of the original songs we had written — I hired two studio musicians from New York, and we headed down to this club in Philly. That was going to be the end of the whole thing, but, eventually, we started getting offers for other little clubs, and it just kind of grew organically out of that.”
For veteran musician Michael, the prospect of hitting the stage with Kevin — the Golden Globe-winning star of films like Footloose and A Few Good Men, as well as the new Amazon series I Love Dick — was not as unlikely as it may initially seem. “Kevin is kind of an idiot-savant songwriter,” shares Michael, who has conducted the scores for more than a hundred TV shows and films. “One of my curses is that whatever amount of talent I have, I am very good at recognizing talent in other people, and I knew immediately that he had a gift, even when he was a little kid.”
In 1995, Kevin officially signed on as a bandmate, and the Bacon Brothers were born. Yet, with a full-time acting career, making time to tour remains a challenge. “It’s always hard because one of the problems is that a lot of times, music offers come before acting ones,” explains Kevin. “When you put yourself in a situation where you are going to [perform] five months from now, you never know what’s going to be at risk. I have to prioritize my acting career because that’s really my bread and butter. It’s a juggling act, but over the years we have canceled relatively few gigs, and generally it works out.”
Michael similarly contends with a packed schedule, recently working on the audiobook You Don’t Look Your Age… and Other Fairy Tales, as well as the HBO documentary Underfire: The Untold Story of Private First Class Tony Vaccaro. The Emmy Award-winning musician also makes time to teach a course on film scoring at Lehman College in the Bronx, as well as a conservatory class at The New School’s Mannes College.
Such packed schedules make the band’s August 27 performance at Connecticut’s Ridgefield Playhouse all that much more notable. For the brothers, playing the region — and the Playhouse in particular — is like coming home. Especially since both now reside in the Big Apple. “New York is really our hometown, so playing in Connecticut is fun. A lot of friends show up,” remarks Michael. “And we have also played Ridgefield so many times that it gets easier, because every time you play a place, you get new fans, and hopefully they come back the next year and know the music a little more. It’s been a really great relationship.”
“We also feel like if we play someplace like Ridgefield, we have to do new stuff,” Kevin chimes in. “We can’t play the exact same songs we played last year. Luckily, we are in a situation where there have been enough new tunes, and our set has a lot of new stuff in it.” These latest tunes include the singles “Driver” (2016), “Broken Glass” (2017), and the yet-to-be-released “Twin Rivers,” which was penned by Kevin himself.
Beyond pumping out new music, the band has also consistently worked to further several philanthropic efforts. Recently, the duo raised funds for the Love Hope Strength Foundation, California Dream Week, and the Mummers Association. According to the brothers, a driving force behind that work is their nonprofit, 6degrees.org.
“One of the things that [6degrees.org does] is facilitate connections between bands or actors or sports people with charities,” says Kevin. “Sometimes, when we are on the road, we can mold some of that work in with touring. For instance, when we are in Nashville, we will stop by a place that works with women who are coming off the streets and helping them get on their feet by playing a little show there. It’s not like we had some big discussion and said, ‘We have to do more charity stuff’; it just panned out that way.”
The duo plans to cultivate their personal interests while taking the stage as the Bacon Brothers as frequently as possible. When asked if being together so often occasionally produces some brotherly friction, the siblings laugh. “I mean, we can get on each other’s nerves, but overall, we get along really well,” says Michael. “Our shows have been really amazing during this tour. We haven’t had a dud at all, and people have been coming out. The guys from the band and the crew are exceptional human beings, and they’re also really good at their jobs. So, it makes it all pretty easy.”