In the five years I’ve written for GeekMom, I’ve discovered there are two ways to geek out about something. Most of us have something we do in our free time that makes us happy, the hobby we geek out about. Around here the list is long, ranging from comic books to knitting to attending fun conventions.
Then there are the things we geek out about that we can’t (or don’t) necessarily do ourselves, but we fully appreciate that others have mastered them. A friend once told me, “Some are here to create and some are here to appreciate.” That’s me. I appreciate a lot.
Music falls into this category for me. I adore music. I am fascinated by music. But I don’t play music. The perfect date night for me is to sit in one of our small local bars in my mountain town and listen to someone play live on the tiny stage. Whatever category of music they play, I’m there to appreciate.
Last week I had the ultimate date night. After traveling to Nashville to visit my two oldest kids in their young adult lives, I had tickets to go see The Bacon Brothers Band in concert. It wasn’t my first rendezvous with the band. In fact, I’ve possibly seen them a dozen times in the past 12 years.
In the early days after I found their music, and realized how talented they were, I lucked into becoming friends with their bass player, Paul Guzzone (which is a story for another day). Through the years our friendship has survived and thrived, even as I continue to move around the country. When we lived in New York, near many of their concerts, I had the treat of seeing them several times a year.
Then we moved to Colorado. They don’t play many shows out west. I hit a dry spell. Several years went by without a concert, and I was feeling it. Hearing the new stuff on my iPod was great, but I began craving the live show they pull off so beautifully. Finally a trip east coordinated with their tour dates this year and I immediately had tickets in hand.
Let me tell you why I love their music. First, let’s get the elephant in the room addressed. Yes, the band is named after the two guys on the mics at the front of the stage, Michael and Kevin Bacon. Kevin, as in the guy who is home plate for the Six Degrees game. Every show will have a smattering of the squealers and the screamers, who came to increase their Kevin Bacon number. But eventually they die down and the music makes you forget about that thing called celebrity.
On the stage are six guys who do this brothers band thing on the side. They are all accomplished musicians on their own. They all have day jobs to support this rocking jones. Michael Bacon is an Emmy winning composer who has been immersed in the industry for over 40 years. Kevin, nine years younger than his brother, grew up in a house full of music and never let it stray far from his heart. Even while he spent decades filming blockbuster movies.
One thing I appreciate about their live show is the way they make the crowd forget that there’s a movie star on stage, and they let each musician shine. Each song has places where the bass, or the percussion, or the guitar, or the keyboard has its own time to shine. Every band member plays multiple instruments, and play them all well. No one is left out and the joy of playing live is spread around.
In fact, Ira Seigel, their left-handed guitar guru, plays so well that the band made a hilarious parody video, appropriately called “Lefty,” where the brothers tell Ira he will have to stop playing so well, because it makes them look bad. The guys still smile when I bring up that video, even years later.
It’s not just the style of this music that draws me in. From slow, heartfelt songs (Angelina is a favorite) to down and dirty, rocking out songs (Not Born to Beauty and Get a Little) the lyrics never stop delighting me.
As a writer myself I appreciate good lyrics. It takes time, creativity and expert rhythm to come up with great lyrics. They have to fit the mood and the musical style. They have to speak to their audience. They can’t be lazy.
Here are a few of my all-time favorites, from the huge catalog of music the band has created in the past 20 years.
In the song Angelina, about a spouse, who cares too much about the world and fixing all that she sees (sound familiar?), and trying to make her step away from that stress and disappear into something more peaceful for the night:
The light showed through your dress, like the refrigerator moon. And I dreamed I was your dancer. And I dreamed this was the tune. Tilt your head back Angelina. Close your eyes and drift away. You’ve done everything that you can do, to save the world today. Don’t you tell me where you’re going. I don’t need to know. But as soon as you are ready. Angelina, I’m coming with you when you go.
From my all-time favorite song, Not Born to Beauty, about all of the talented musicians out there, who will never be famous, but were born to make music:
Turn on your MTV. You won’t find them there. You can read that Rolling Stone cover to cover, you won’t find them anywhere. But in basements and garages, hotel lounges, roadside bars, close your eyes and hear the tunes and you’ll be seeing stars. They were born to do it. They were born to play.
The very first Bacon Brothers song I ever heard was Ten Years in Mexico. I was hooked from the first line. A song about a 10th anniversary trip to Mexico:
Last night I dreamed of ice and sleet. I dreamed of sidewalks underneath my feet. Woke to find my suitcase by the door. I asked the mountains and the Cortez Sea, how did she come to love a fool like me? I don’t need the answers anymore.
Three more classic songs to check out are TMI (too much information), Good News, and Guess Again. All three have too many clever (self-deprecating) lyrics to post and will leave you smiling, guaranteed.
I have to take a second to point out the other two guys on stage, Joe Mennonna, who is on keyboard and accordion, and Frank Vilardi, who is the guy hiding behind the drums at the back of the stage. With the talent these guys possess, I could do a post on each of them individually.
I finally got to attend that long awaited concert, with my oldest son as my date. It was amazing, as it always is. No matter the city or venue, there is something about hearing such familiar songs that makes me feel at home.
I highly recommend seeking out a Bacon Brothers concert. If you’re a music creator yourself, I think you’ll respect the talent you see on stage. If you’re an appreciator, like me, you’ll definitely be in awe at the range of songs. Buy a few albums before you see them live, and get familiar with their sound. Be sure to take the time to really listen to the instrumentals and pay attention to the lyrics.
The band is just finishing up a summer tour but keep an eye on the website here, to find out about their future dates. In the meantime, head over to YouTube and cruise through some entertaining videos. I’ll start you with one of my favorite songs, Go My Way, that shows off all of the band members, including some amazing guitar work and some groovy moves by my friend Paul, on the red bass. Then head over to a clip that only has Kevin, but is from an amazing episode of Live From Daryl’s House. Next we’ll move to a fun clip from a radio appearance, where they covered Giving It Up For Your Love pretty awesomely. I love this one, from the same radio show, where they play another of my favorites, Old Guitars. For a nice acoustical taste, here’s a clip with just Michael and Kevin.
One the newest to the list, a song called 36 Cents. The chorus, listing what most musicians will have in their pockets when they die—“36 cents, a couple of Fender medium flat picks, a crumbled up piece of paper, with the lyrics to this song.’ This song has amazing guitar sections.
Just do me a favor when you head off to their concert. Leave the crazy paparazzi attitude at home, then sit back and listen. I know you’ll enjoy the show. It’s a stage full of really talented guys. And yeah, they usually end the show with a rousing round of Footloose. Just to please the groupies.