Q&A with Michael and Kevin Bacon (Brothers)

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By Jennifer Powell and Regine Victoria (File photo)

The Bacon Brothers have been collaborating professionally as a band for 20 years, but jamming started well before that in their Philadelphia home. Many years later, both have had success in their own right — Kevin most famously as an actor, and Michael, as a music teacher and writer of an astounding number of musical scores for television shows and movies.

The Bacons have travelled far and wide to perform their music, from the Hard Rock Cafe to all along and around the East Coast. Many of their performances were for the bene t of others, from their performance for the Love Strength Hope Foundation to the nonprofit California Dream Week, dedicated to students and high schools engaged in environmental sustain- ability. Philanthropic by nature and in deeds, the brothers have both brought awareness to many issues through grants, bene t concerts and pure star power.

The Bacon Brothers band came to Alexandria last year, during the city’s inaugural Live Music Week and spent a weekend getting to know the city. After one performance at The Birchmere, the band stopped in at local favorite Sugar Shack, where they met with customers and employees alike while putting on an acoustic performance that included Kenny Loggins’ hit “Footloose.”

Perhaps most touchingly, Kevin Bacon attended lunch at William Ramsey Elementary School, where a vast majority of the school’s population is eligible for free or reduced lunch. The kids were delighted to hang out with the effusive star and the school’s No Kid Hungry campaign received a tremendous boost of local press thanks to his appearance.

With their combined talents and any spare time after their main careers and families, the Bacon Brothers tour to promote their music. They have seven studio albums, with more to come. Some of their newest songs will be on display when the Bacons perform their home- grown Philly soul and blues-rock at The Birchmere over three successive evenings from July 22 through 24.

The brothers recently took time to talk with the Alexandria Times via email.

Alexandria Times: How did you each get started in music? Did little Kevin start tooling around with Michael’s guitar? Did your parents provide all their kids with instruments? What are some of your greatest musical influences?

Michael Bacon: Yes, musical instruments and training was always encouraged by our parents. At the same time, art, dance and acting lessons were also encouraged. Self expression in the arts was the most important thing in our childhood. I bought Kevin his first guitar and thought him how to play “Hey Jude.” Later, he hit me in the head with a melody flute.

Kevin Bacon: My biggest influence was my big brother. He was playing and writing songs from my earliest memories. We had a household that encouraged creativity in any form. Music, dance, theater, art. Our parents weren’t artists but they put artistic expression on a pedestal.

Which instruments do you play and which do you favor?

Michael: I play all the folk instruments and cello and love them equally.

Kevin: I play guitar, percussion and harmonica and none of them very well! My brother got me a guitar and I use it as a tool to write songs.

What advice can you give to people who are starting in music, particularly in creating their own original music?

Michael: The key to success in any of the arts is to find out what makes you different than everyone else. After that, practice to get better than everybody else.

Kevin: Try to play as much as you can without a computer. Computers are great tool when the time comes but I think you have to feel an instrument in your hands and sing without auto tune. Also, like anything else, it’s all about the time you put in. Shoot for your 10,000 hours. You have such a great sense of humor in your lyrics and song titles.

Are all of the Bacons a funny bunch?

Michael: Not really.

Kevin: Hilarious.

Your musicianship is tight and harmonies are so beautiful, how do you best collaborate?

Michael: I probably do more of the harmony ideas, whereas Kevin does more of the groove ideas.

Kevin: I think the secret is to listen to opinions with an open mind. There are no rules in rock music about what works and doesn’t. We have different approaches. Both are valid. Try anything.

What’s something people would be surprised to know about you — individually, together as the Bacon Brothers or how you create?

Michael: After 35 years of scoring films and television shows for clients, I just finished my first cello concerto for myself. The experience was incredible and I am very proud of the piece.

Our city really enjoyed you spending time here last year — visiting Sugar Shack and giving an impromptu performance, visiting with kids at William Ramsey Elementary School and highlighting the No Kid Hungry initiative. With three nights of back-to-back shows, can Alexandria hope for some Bacon Brothers sightings around town again this year?

Michael: Absolutely!

Kevin: Yes, for sure.

You’ve held a number of benefit concerts. Does this happen organically?

Michael: Most of the time.

Kevin: Yes, we never know where we will play next.

What can you tell us about your new song “Driver”?

Michael: Stay tuned for the upcoming music video.

Kevin: “Driver” is a song about memories, memories of that special summer long ago. I wrote it as a gift for our older sister Hilda.

What can we expect at The Birchmere shows this year?

Michael: Almost half of the set is either new songs or revisited old songs. We love the Birchmere and are excited to return.

Kevin: We will have our full band that The Birchmere crowd is familiar with. We do at least 2 new songs as well as some older ones that we’ve never done live.

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