Hoopla

The Bacon Brothers talk shared love of music and the ties of brotherhood; heading to Riverside Casino Friday night

JEFF FASANO PHOTO

Brothers Kevin (left) and Michael Bacon are returning to the Riverside Casino Event Center on Friday night (8/23) with their “forosoco” blend: folk, rock, soul and country. They first rocked the casino in February 2011.
JEFF FASANO PHOTO Brothers Kevin (left) and Michael Bacon are returning to the Riverside Casino Event Center on Friday night (8/23) with their “forosoco” blend: folk, rock, soul and country. They first rocked the casino in February 2011.
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Hailing from the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia natives Kevin and Michael Bacon have spun their brotherly love of music into a rockin’ side project rollin’ back into the Riverside Casino Event Center on Friday night (8/23).

They first appeared there in February 2011, creating “a magical musical explosion onstage,” which had the nearly sold-out crowd in a frenzy over a style the brothers call “forosoco,” a blend of folk, rock, soul and country. That’s also the title of their 1997 debut album. Their ninth album, out last year, has a more straightforward title: “The Bacon Brothers.”

They’ll play a 3-3-3 mix of music at Riverside, drawing one-third from their latest album, one-third “old stuff” and one-third “brand-new” music. Multi-instrumentalists who primarily sling guitars onstage, they’re part of a six-piece band with assorted instruments at their fingertips, to create a sonic fusion that fits no singular template.

“We’re all over the place,” Michael said during a conference call with Kevin from their homes in New York City. “The guys that we choose to play with us are extremely versatile. For instance, the keyboard player plays keys and also accordion and also saxophone. So you get a lot of different textures on the stage.”

Kevin, 61, an award-winning actor, and Michael, 69, an Emmy-winning composer, have been making music together for as long as they can remember.

“People think that since I’m the trained musician, I write the music and that Kevin writes the lyrics,” Michael said. “But when we first started out, practically by the time Kevin was just starting to walk, we’ve been writing songs together. Maybe not quite that early, but maybe when Kevin was 8 or 9 years old.”

“I get younger every time you tell this story,” Kevin countered with a laugh.

“OK, he was 5 or 6 years old,” Michael said. “I think our first song we wrote prenatally.”

“Our first song was actually called ‘Goo-Goo Ga-Ga,’” Kevin quipped.

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“Anyway, I apologize for my lack of memory of events that took place 50 years ago,” Michael said, sending them both into laughter.

The process has evolved for Michael and baby brother Kevin, the youngest of six siblings.

“(Kevin) would bring me these melodies and lyrics that were really good and I would put the chords to them — maybe reorganize them, maybe add a chorus or something to make it more of a popular song format,” Michael said. “And he was pretty much dependent on me to arrange the songs and produce them in the studio.

“But once we formed the band, his guitar playing skills got better, and maybe another 10 years goes by, and the revolution of home studio starts. And now Kevin’s a really, really accomplished producer in his own right. So he doesn’t need me to help him arrange the songs or anything else.

“That being said, we have a new song now that I wrote only the lyrics and Kevin wrote the music — and I specifically asked him to do that because I love the lyric but I’m not the musician to write that music, and Kevin was. And I was right.”

They’ll be working out their new material on the road, as part of the “discovery” process of writing — seeing how well it all plays with a band and in front of an audience. That’s been part of their collaboration since before forming their band, almost by accident, in 1995.

“Michael was already deep into the music business, and I was off in acting — I’d taken a different kind of path,” Kevin said. “But we would get together and write songs. There was a little bit of a dream that maybe they would be performed by us, but a lot of what we were trying to do was also to try to write for other people in the hopes that somebody would record a song.”

With a demo of their music to help spark that fire, a friend from Philadelphia suggested the brothers return to their hometown for a show he would promote as “The Bacon Brothers.”

“It was one show,” Kevin said. “It wasn’t like we got together — it just kind of happened that way.”

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But it stuck. And since releasing their debut album in 1997, the brothers have recorded eight more albums and hit the road in the summer, when both tend to be on hiatus from their “bread-and-butter jobs.”

Kevin has been making raves on the big screen since his debut in “Animal House” in 1978, followed by an eclectic string of hits, from “Footloose” and “Tremors” to “JFK,” “X-Men: First Class” and his current Showtime cable series, “City on a Hill.”

“One of the reasons I became an actor was to be able to not be myself — to step away from me,” Kevin said. “ ... Music is extremely personal — you have a life experience and you write it. I don’t write the scripts or the lines that I’ve said (on screen). ... When you’re sharing a really personal experience, that is different in music than it is in acting.”

Michael has written countless musical scores for television, features films and award-winning documentaries. Among his family projects are scores for two films directed by Kevin: “Loverboy” and “Losing Chase,” starring Helen Mirren and Kevin’s wife, Kyra Sedgwick. Among his numerous industry awards, he nabbed an Emmy for “The Kennedys.”

Even though he said it took Michael three years to figure out he really didn’t enjoy college, he’s come full circle., teaching film scoring at his alma mater, Lehman College, which he described as “a wonderful inner city college in the Bronx,” and at Mannes School of Music, an “elite” music conservatory in Greenwich Village.

“I have a very diverse kind of student population, and I really like it,” he said.

It doesn’t take his students long to figure out who he is.

“I don’t advertise who I am in my outside life, or who my brother is, but by the end of the semester, somebody kind of figures that out,” he said, “and it’s fun when they do, because they get really excited. For instance, last semester or the one before, I was on ‘Jimmy Fallon,’ and they probably haven’t met anybody who was on a television show, and they probably have an idea that it’s some unreachable thing.”

“ ... I think they really like the idea that I’m a regular guy and just a college professor anyway.”

Carving out time to hit the road is important to both brothers.

“Our father instilled in us that if you are good at something and you don’t do it you will be frustrated,” Michael said. “And for myself, I’m a lifetime musician — that’s the only thing I know how to do. But my brother is also extremely good at music and is not trained (and) doesn’t read music, but has a wonderful feel for taking personal experiences and putting them into a song that people can relate to aesthetically and like the song, but also get some kind of a message.

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“Over the years, there’s been a lot of feedback of songs that we’ve written that have really affected people’s lives. And I think that if you’re good at that, you want to get it out in front of people. And I think for both of us, we’ve kind of made that a priority — but it also is always going to be secondary to our more bread-and-butter kinds of endeavors.”

Get out!

WHAT: The Bacon Brothers

WHERE: Riverside Casino Event Center, 3184 Highway 22, Riverside

WHEN: 8 to 9:30 p.m. Friday (8/23)

TICKETS: $25 to $50, Casino Gift Shop, 1-(877) 677-3456 or <URL destination="https://tickets.riversidecasinoandresort.com/">Tickets.riversidecasinoandresort.com/

</URL>BAND’S WEBSITE: Baconbros.com

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