The lucky folks who attended either of the two Bacon Brothers concerts on Saturday, Nov. 19, at are now one degree of separation closer to Kevin Bacon. Kevin, perhaps better known for his acting career, and older brother Michael Bacon, a well-established television and film composer, have made music together since childhood and played together professionally for the past 16 years.
The brothers perform with the same band of top-notch musicians that they’ve been with for the past decade and a half. The very polished and professional band includes Paul Guzzone on bass and vocals, Ira Siegal on electric guitar, mandolin and vocals, Frank Vilardi on drums, and Joe Mennonna on keyboards and accordion. Both Bacon brothers play guitar and trade off on lead vocals, and Michael is also a talented cellist. It was a great treat to see some unusual music gear on the stage, including a vintage Hammond organ played through a Leslie rotating speaker cabinet, something you rarely see – or hear – these days.
I was tempted to simply categorize The Bacon Brothers’ music as gritty pop rock with solid harmonies, until they defied categorization by throwing in a reggae-type song, “Bunch of Words.” The piece is a sort of sea-shanty told from the point of view of a giant squid, “Archie.” They also performed a country-ish song about substance abuse, “Strung Out.” Another song, “New England Girls,” had a Beach Boys feel, and then there was “Go My Way” which was a groovy funk tune. The music was exceptionally varied, but always played with great energy and enthusiasm.
Kevin Bacon is as lanky and lean as ever and must be pulling a “Dorian Gray.” Somewhere he must have an aging portrait of himself because he certainly looks the same as he has for the past two decades. In addition to singing and playing guitar, he also played various percussion instruments and the harmonica. While there may have been audience members who showed up simply to see Kevin Bacon in the flesh, the overwhelming feeling was that the audience was there for the music, not the man. In a way, having Kevin Bacon involved may be the one thing that hinders this fine band from reaching the level of musical fame that it deserves. Since he is viewed so seriously as an actor, it may be hard for the music industry to take him as seriously as a musician. Which is a shame, because this is a surprisingly excellent band.
The Bacon Brothers played several unrecorded new songs, including the beautiful “493 Miles” with haunting cello by Michael Bacon and “36 Cents” with some interesting major/minor key shifts and some wonderful accordion playing. For their last number, “Peace Dance,” about a dozen young women did their best “Footloose” impressions by the side of the stage, and the keyboard player performed an astounding solo on the Hammond organ where he managed to work in Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” and Fucik’s “Entry of the Gladiators” (better known as the circus theme song). I wasn’t sure how they could possibly top that, until I heard what they had chosen for their encore – the only cover song of the whole show, and what a choice – The Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time.”
I guess the old adage is true – you can never have too much bacon.
The next musical performance at Landmark on Main Street is Darlene Love doing holiday music on Dec. 10.