There’s no denying that Kevin Bacon is an outright movie star. With a resume that includes “Footloose,” “A Few Good Men,” “Flatliners” and “Apollo 13,” the man who spurred an entire party game (Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon) is as recognizable as any actor today.
What some of his fans don’t know is that each summer he teams with his older brother Michael, an Emmy-Award winning film and television composer, to live out their boyhood dream of playing together in a band. They’ve been doing it for 20 years, and little by little people are viewing the actor as much for his singing as his film work.
“I want the show to go well and I want the crowd to enjoy the music and the songs, but I’m not burdened by the fact that I’m this actor who has to prove something,” he says. “I don’t want people to pretend I’m not who I am. It helps because if you go to a show to see your favorite singer, you know 90 percent of the songs, and that’s the fun of going. To absorb a new set list of music you don’t know can be challenging to an audience.”
The Bacon Brothers to the Birchmere for three nights, July 28-30, a musical tradition they’ve been doing for more than a decade. The Philadelphia-bred brothers sing, write songs and play the guitar. Kevin adds harmonica and percussion to the set and Michael shows off his classical training on the cello.
“We’ve really strengthened the unplugged part of our set,” Michael said. “It’s really fun because you can see these excellent musicians we have in our band playing instruments like the mandolin and the accordion, and that’s a lot of fun.”
Once in a while the two will bring out a new song, but both of their schedules are so busy, they don’t have much time to write anymore. Kevin is starring in Amazon’s new comedy, “I Love Dick,” and Michael has been swamped with his scoring work for documentaries.
“We don’t write too much together. We have to go off and find some solitude somewhere for it to happen,” Kevin says. “Right now we have two new songs in the set and we’ll probably have a couple more by the end of the tour.”
To keep things fresh, the brothers change up the set list and play different tunes off of their seven albums. When a new song does come along, they share with one another, then the band, and hopefully play it live to see how it goes.
Growing up in Philadelphia, inspired by some of the big rock stars of their day, the Bacon brothers always hoped to play music together on stage, even though there was a wide age difference between them.
“The fact that we have more space in between us age wise means it’s not that battling brothers thing that you see in a lot of bands with siblings,” Kevin says. “We have a lot of respect for each other. Certainly, there are things that we will disagree on musically, but we’re always willing to at least try what the other wants to try out.”
Michael adds that there’s a certain trust that comes along with having your brother on stage next to you.
“We’ve been going for 20 years and brotherhood cuts through a lot,” he says. “We grew up in the same house and have the same values and I think a lot of brother bands that might cause problems, but for us, it’s a real asset.”
Once the show is over, both Bacons make sure to thank their friends, take some photos and sign autographs; and of course, Kevin will be most likely be asked about the “Six Degrees” game. And seeing as how it came about before the Internet was even a thing and people couldn’t search IMDB to figure out the connections, the actor still marvels that people still bring it up to him all the time.
“I don’t revel it in, but it’s fun. It’s there and doesn’t show any signs of going away,” he says. “The idea is a powerful one, because if you take me out of it, everyone just wants to be connected—that’s what Facebook is about, and Twitter—it’s all about finding connections between people.”