The voice on the other end of the line is unmistakable: Kevin Bacon, a movie star since the late ’70s, with over 80 films to his name, and, in his side-project band the Bacon Brothers with his brother Michael, a singer-songwriter of great accomplishment. The Bacon Brothers, with their eclectic mix of hard rock and folksy Americana, are excited about coming to the Patchogue Theater on September 26 to put on another rocking show after their recent summer tour. But right now, Kevin is a little preoccupied.
“It’s actually my 27th wedding anniversary,” Kevin says—to which I, along with Kevin’s brother Michael, also on the line, respond with congratulations. Kevin is married to actress Kyra Sedgwick, and they have two children. “I worked it out,” Kevin continues, “That comes to 9,655 days. I give us another two months.”
It’s a self-deprecation that may not have come too naturally to Bacon, who initially objected to the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” meme that sprang up in the ’90s—a meme that in fact flirted with trivializing his substantial success in films. In recent years, Bacon has apparently learned to relax and enjoy the joke, even forming his own networking initiative, SixDegrees.org, that helps connect charities to interested people. He’s also just become a commercial spokesperson for the U.S. egg industry—eggs and Bacon, anyone?—signaling a willingness to encourage laughter at his own expense.
One thing both Kevin and his brother Michael take very seriously, though, is their songwriting. “I’ve been writing songs all along,” says Kevin, “since before I even learned to play guitar.” As a teenager in Philadelphia, Kevin would take his lyrics and melodies to older brother Michael—who was already deeply involved in writing and playing rock music—and Michael would help Kevin complete the songs with chords and structure.
Michael Bacon continued in music and has had a successful and varied career—going on to become a multi-instrumentalist, working for a time as a Nashville songwriter, earning a graduate degree in music composition, and eventually establishing himself as a prolific composer of film and TV scores. He even lectures on film scoring. But he concedes that songwriting is one of the more challenging of his musical pursuits.
“Songwriting is a strange, mysterious amalgam,” Michael says. “Lyrics mixed with music, and you’re trying for something universal. It’s frighteningly elusive—if I write two good songs a year, I’m happy.”
Kevin and Michael first came back together to play music in 1995, and since then they’ve released six studio albums featuring original songs—with the occasional cover. The Bacon Brothers play selections from Michael and Kevin’s now lengthy catalogue of songs accompanied with a full band. Over the years, some trends have emerged. While Michael’s songs tend to be very personal, even cryptic, Kevin’s songs—perhaps not surprisingly, given his background—tend to feature vignettes. “Kevin’s songs are very visual,” notes Michael. “They’re like little films.” And both the Americana sound of their songs and the instrumentation of the band stem back to the brothers’ abiding love for the pioneering work of The Band.
“I was a big British Invasion guy,” recalls Michael. “When The Band came along it was like ‘what?’—they were like a folk group and could go in so many different directions.” Like The Band, the Bacon Brothers bring in the sounds of accordion and mandolin, and Michael also works in the cello.
As Kevin says, “We just want to put on the best show we can, and we are looking forward to seeing everybody there.”
The Bacon Brothers play the Patchogue Theater on Saturday, September 26 at 8 p.m. Tickets ($45–$85) are available at patchoguetheatre.org or by calling 631-207-1313. The Patchogue Theater for the Performing Arts is located at 71 East Main Street, Patchogue.